After a surprising victory over then-No. 4 South Dakota State University, Illinois State University football returns home to take on Missouri State University Nov. 16. With the Redbirds’ final regular-season home game of the season quickly approaching, here are five things to know before ISU’s matchup with MSU:
For the 40th time in their history, the Redbirds and Bears will match up. ISU leads the series with a record 27-17-1. The Redbirds have had the advantage, winning four of the last five contests. Head coach Brock Spack has been dominating with a 7-3 record. But the Bears won last year’s contest. After being down 24-14, the ’Birds battled back, bringing the final score to 24-21. The Redbirds came close to tying it up, but the game-tying field goal was blocked.
Prior to the game, the Redbirds will honor the seniors, of which there are 12. James Robinson, Luther Kirk and Tuvone Clark highlight the ’Birds senior class. Robinson and Kirk have also been tabbed to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
Defense does it all
A continued strength for the Redbirds has been their defense. Keeping them in numerous games, the Redbirds rank highly in several defensive categories. ISU leads the FCS in red zone defense. Ranking No. 1, the Redbirds have allowed a touchdown in the red zone just 54 percent of the time.
Last week’s turnover margin was the main reason the ’Birds held on against the Jackrabbits. The four turnovers led to the Redbirds winning 27-18 with three coming from quarterback Keaton Heide.
Score first, win
Scoring first has paid huge dividends this season. The Redbirds have gone 6-0 this season in the games where they were the first to score. The Redbirds are also 5-0 when they score on their first drive of the game along with 3-0 when leading after the first quarter.
How to follow
The game, which begins 2 p.m. Nov. 16 in Brookings, South Dakota, will be available to watch live on ESPN+ to paid subscribers. Fans can also listen live on WJBC AM 1230/93.7 FM or follow along online at goredbirds.com. Sports Editors Blaine Lewallen and Jake Sermersheim will be live-tweeting the game from @Vidette_Sports on Twitter. Live tweets can also be found on ISU football’s Twitter page, @RedbirdFB, throughout the game.