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Illinois State earned its third-straight FCS Playoffs bid, after finishing the 2016-17 regular season 6-5, 4-4 MVFC.

THREE KEYS TO WIN 

Redbirds

Win the turnover battle

Illinois State did not commit a turnover in the victory last week against Western Illinois, which went a long way in securing the road victory. MSU has struggled in recent weeks to stop opposing offenses, so helping them out with turning the ball over will be doing them a large favor.

Stop the run

The Bears quarterback Brodie Lambert really struggled in the loss last week, going 10/21 for 224 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. 91 of those yards came on one play, so stopping the run early and making Lambert and the offense one dimensional will be important for the Redbirds.

Put the pressure on early

The senior day crowd will be into the game early. It is important that ISU scores early to keep the crowd engergized and involved in the game. MSU has struggled recently on the defensive side and making sure they do not get a big play or turnover early will be a major key in the game.

Bears

Embrace the spoiler role

Missouri State has nothing to lose in this game, and the Redbirds still have a chance at making the playoffs. Not only that, but spoiling the Senior Day of ISU has to be on the minds of the Bears. Coming out and taking out the crowd early will be important for the Bears to hang around with the Redbirds.

Get some stops

MSU has given up at least 35 points in each of the last four games, going 1-3 in that stretch. Last week South Dakota State put up a whopping 548 total yards on the Bears defense. Three weeks ago against Northern Iowa, the Bears gave up 556 total yards and 61 points. The defense will need to improve drastically agasint an ISU team that has won two straight.

Play turnover free

With the recent struggles on the defensive side of the ball for MSU, taking care of the ball and not giving up field position by trying to force a play that isn't there will be important. In the win two weeks ago against SIU, quarterback Brodie Lambert threw three interceptions. On the road, and with Jake Kolbe coming off a nice game, the Bears will need to win the turnover battle to come away with a win.

 

NUTS AND BOLTS

REDBIRDS

Illinois State (5-5, 3-4 MVFC) is coming off back to back wins for the first time since the opening two weeks of the season, to get back to .500. Quarterback Jake Kolbe is coming off one of his better games of the season last week, going 18/28 for 265 and four touchdowns. Kolbe was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week with that performance. The most important stat of Kolbe's afternoon was a zero in the turnover coulumn. ISU is in yet another must win game, for any chance at sneaking into the playoffs with a 6-5 record.

BEARS

Missouri State (4-5, 2-4 MVFC) has lost four of five games heading into Saturday. The Bears are coming off of a 49-24 rout at the hands of South Dakota State last week. The Bears rank seventh in the MFVC in total offense (26.3 ppg).

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

REDBIRDS

Anthony Warrum will be playing his last game at Hancock Stadium on Saturday. Last week Warrum hauled in seven passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns against WIU. Warrum is fourth in the MVFC in recieving yards per game (82.3). The senior has eight touchdowns on the season.

Malik Earl is having a nice junior year at wide reciever for the Bears. Last week Earl caught two passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in the loss to SDSU. Earl ranks ninth in receptions per game in the conference (4.2) and seventh in recieving yards per game (60.8).

SPACK’S COMMENTS 

SPACK: “It's (Missouri State) a team that I think is vastly improved over last year. They have very fast and very skilled, skill players offensively. They have the most dynamic kick returner in all of FCS football, I don't know if there's a better one out there... They're a much different team than what we faced in Springfield last year.They've taken some teams right to the end, they've beaten some good teams, I think this is a very scary football game for anyone who plays them... This could be their (the seniors) last game ever, and it could be their last game here at Hancock Stadium, which has been a great place for those kids to play in "

TV: Broadcast live at 12 p.m., Saturday on Watch ESPN.

RADIO: WJBC (AM 1230)

              WZND (FM 103.3)        

TWITTER: Follow live in-game updates, pictures and videos:

@rkelly1112

@Vidette_Sports

@The_Vidette

@RedbirdFB

RYAN KELLY is a Sports reporter for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his article can be directed to rkelly2@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter @​rkelly1122

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