Kansas football: Examining the Jayhawks Week 1 opponent, Missouri State

Missouri State Bears football practice at Plaster Field on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.
Missouri State Bears football practice at Plaster Field on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. /

Kansas football opens the regular season with a Friday night game against Missouri State. What should Jayhawk fans know about the Bears?

When you’re a fan of a Power 5 school, you typically look past early-season games against FCS programs. But if you root for the Kansas Jayhawks, past experience would suggest we should be wary of each opponent KU faces.

Losses to Nicholls and North and South Dakota State will always haunt the Jayhawk faithful. However, coming off a season in which the team started off 5-0 and reached a bowl game, Kansas is no longer considered the laughing stock of college football. They *should* get by Missouri State pretty easily this Friday.

The Bears’ campus is located about three hours from Lawrence, and they could be in for a long bus ride home after Week 1. They are coming off a disappointing 5-6 (3-5) year in the Missouri Valley Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Longtime Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino had guided Missouri State the past three years but bolted this offseason for the offensive coordinator spot at Texas A&M. 34-year-old Ryan Beard, who has very little experience in the realm of coaching, took over the job in hopes of bringing the program back to success.

Star quarterback Jason Shelley, who previously had made stops at Utah and Utah State, graduated in 2022. The Bears are left without their leader from last season, and UMass transfer Chase Brewster — the frontrunner to be their QB1 — reportedly stepped away from the program permanently. Projected WR1 Craig Burt Jr. did the same, and it was reflected on their recently released depth chart. Last year’s leading receiver, Ty Scott, was also lost to graduation.

READ: KU offense could be one of country’s best in 2023

Missouri State does not have a set-in-stone starting quarterback, as they plan to alternate Jacob Clark and Jordan Pachot on Friday. Those two combined have totaled 11 career pass attempts, something that even the weak Kansas football defense will be able to capitalize on.

Their team last year allowed 27.3 points per game, although Jalon Daniels and the Jayhawks figure to seep into the 50s with their point total. This is a team that lost the majority of its defensive production, and they have no one to replace their most valuable offensive asset.

Granted, Missouri State gave Oklahoma State a tough time (23-16 loss) in 2021 and Arkansas a run for their money (38-27 loss) last year, but Petrino is no longer there and the roster is a mess. It should be a rude awakening for Coach Beard’s first game on the sidelines.

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