The Morgan State Bears (0-1) will attempt to spoil a home-opener when they travel to take on FCS power Illinois State (0-1) on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Hancock Stadium and will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and ESPN3. The game will also be broadcast live on WEAA, 88.9 FM and will be audio streamed on WEAA.org. Morgan State opened the season with a 63-7 loss to BCS member Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colorado and are attempting to win on the road for the first time since defeating Hampton (38-35) on Nov. 1, 2014. Illinois State, the 2014 MVFC co-champions and national runner-up a year ago, enters the contest 0-1 following a 31-14 loss against BIG 10 opponent Iowa.
The Bears and Redbirds have never met in football. MSU has played Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents in the past, but is 0-8 in those contests. The last time the Bears faced an MVFC opponent was in 2000, when the Bears were dropped at Western Illinois 73-17 under MSU head coach Stanley Mitchell.
• Morgan State enters Saturday having lost three of its last four road contests dating back to the 2014 season.
• Morgan State is meeting Illinois State for the first time.
• Since the Hancock Stadium was completed prior to the 2013 season, Illinois State has gone a perfect 13-0 on its home turf.
• Morgan State is playing in the state of Illinois for the third time. The Bears went 0-3 against Western Illinois, dropping a pair of games in Macomb, Illinois.
• Morgan State entered the first game of the 2015 season with 10 players receiving their first career starts…5 of offense and 5 on defense.
• Coach added two assistants to initial coaching staff … the new coaches are: Mike Fanoga (DC) and Travis Manger (OL).
• MSU had a conference-best 10 players selected to the 2015 All-MEAC preseason team, including four players who were named to the first team.
• Head Coach Lee Hull is 2-4 in his career in games played in Aug/Sept.
• Lee Hull’s Bears were predicted to finish last in the MEAC’s Preseason Order of Finish. However, MSU not only finished with its first winning record since 2009…but they also captured its first MEAC Title in 35 years and its first Division I FCS Playoff berth.
SCOUTING THE REDBIRDS
• The Redbirds advanced to their first-ever FCS National Championship game in 2014. Illinois State won a school-record 13 games on way the way to a final record of 13-2 overall and No. 2 national ranking in the final FCS poll of the season. The Redbirds posted a 7-1 record in MVFC play to earn a share of the league title. It marked the first conference title for the Redbirds since 1999.
• They returned 40 letterwinners and 11 starters from a team that played in the FCS National Title game.
• The Redbirds offense will be led at quarterback by Tre Roberson (6-0, 205). Roberson, who was named the 2014 MVFC Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Indiana, started all 15 games for the Redbirds on their run to the FCS title game. Roberson started the Iowa game and completed 5 of 12 passes for 49 yards, before being relieved by 6-3, 200-pound QB Jake Kolbe. The redshirt freshman came off the bench and was 11 of 15 passes for 147 yards, including two TD passes in the fourth quarter.
• Marshaun Coprich, 5-9, 205 pound junior, is the Redbirds’ premier running back and finished fifth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the top player in FCS Football. The Victorville, California native led all FCS players with 2,274 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground last season. Coprich was named the 2014 MVFC Offensive Player of the Year.
• Wideouts Anthony Warrum (6-2, 190) and Christian Gibbs (6-1, 185) will be the key receiving targets for the Redbirds. Warrum had 226 yards on 17 catches with a two TDs in 2014. The junior had three catches for 58 yards a TD against Iowa, while Gibbs was on the end of a 52-yard bomb from Jake Kolbe.
• Senior Pat Meehan returns to lead the Redbirds defense this fall. The 6-1, 225 middle linebacker posted 115 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and three sacks. Teddy Corwin returns to the defensive line where he wrought havoc by piling up 98 tackles, 12 TFLs with 7.5 sacks a season ago. The secondary will be patrolled by 2014 MVFC A—Newcomer Team selection Oshay Dunmore who had a pair of interceptions, to go along with 66 tackles, eight TFLs and three sacks.
• Brock Spack (Purdue, ’83) is in his seventh year as head coach at Illinois State. He has led the Redbirds to a 46-27 record. Spack led the Redbirds to their first Missouri Valley Football Conference title in 15 years in 2014, and set the school record for wins with 13 while being named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award.
• The Redbirds were ranked No. 2 in the country heading into the season, coming off a national runner-up finish in 2014. It marked the highest ranking for Illinois State in school history, with the previous high ranking of No. 3 coming during the 2006 season. The Redbirds enter Saturday’s game ranked No. 4 in the nation.
A WIN WOULD …
… mark the Bears first road win since defeating Hampton (38-35) on Nov. 1, 2014.
… give Lee Hull his 8th career win as a head coach.
… would be the Bears’ first win against a non-conference opponent since defeating Bowie State (28-3) on Sept. 13, 2014.
… would be the Bears’ first road win against a non-conference opponent since defeating Towson (12-9) on Sept. 26, 2009.
… mark the Bears first victory against an MVFC member.
Morgan State was a power as a former member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). The Bears posted 173 wins between 1929 and 1959 when Edward P. Hurt was the head coach and the Bears won 14 CIAA championships. Earl Banks added to the championship collection by winning four titles during the 1960s and a MEAC title in 1971. Clarence Thomas led the Bears to a MEAC title in 1979…and now – after a 35-year drought – head coach Lee Hull has added a MEAC title following a thrilling and historical 2014 season. Other MSU highlights:
• Four (4) Pro Football Hall of Famers (Len Ford, Leroy Kelly, Roosevelt Brown & Willie Lanier)
• 19 CIAA championships
• 4 MEAC championships
• 30 consecutive games won (8th in 1964 to the 5th in 1968)
• 57 longest non-losing streak (4th in 1931 to the 6th in 1938)
• 4 MEAC Coaches of the Year; 3 Offensive POTY; 4 Defensive POTY; and 1 Offensive POTY
• 84 All-MEAC First Team selections
• 38 All-CIAA First Team selections
CAMPAIGNING FOR SUCCESS
The Bears enter the 2015 season looking to post their first back-to-back winning seasons (over .500) since going 7-5 in 2002 and 6-5 in 2003.
The Bears will open the 2015 campaign with two of its first three non-conference matchups coming on the road. MSU opens the season at Air Force (Sept. 5), followed by a game at Illinois State (Sept. 12). The Bears round out non-conference play when they host Division II member VA-Lynchburg (Sept. 19) in the home-opener.
PRESEASON ALL-MEAC PLAYERS
Ten (10) Bears were named to the MEAC preseason team at the 2015 MEAC Football Press Luncheon in Norfolk, Va. Senior C Dominique Woods, junior RB Herb Walker Jr., redshirt junior DB Delonte Hall led the contingent with first-team nods, while OL Matthew Thompson, redshirt senior QB Moses Skillon and WR Andrew King and PK Chris Moller were voted to the second team. Junior DB Antonio Jefferson and redshirt junior Andrew Mitchell and redshirt sophomore Orlando Johnson were selected to the third-team.
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