Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern football team will travel to Emporia, Kan. this Thursday to open up the season as the Lions take on 22nd ranked Emporia State inside Welch Stadium at 7 pm.
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2014
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m., CT
Location: Emporia, Kan.
Site: Welch Stadium (7,000)
Series Record: Lions lead 22-17
Coaches: Daryl Daye (13-8 at MSSU, 28-46 overall) | Garrin Higgins 38-39 at ESU, 89-48 overall)
MSSU Radio: FM 99.7 Real American Country - Mike McClure, Play-by-Play, Aaron Lewis, Color
Video Webcast: http://www.mssulions.com/links/hlqdgb
Live Stats: http://www.mssulions.com/links/vkakn7
Lions on Facebook: Facebook.com/missourisouthernlions
Lions on Twitter: @mososports; @mosofootball
The Coaches: Daryl Daye is in his third season as the head coach at Missouri Southern. In his second season at the helm of the Lions, Daye lifted the program to a level unseen in the past 20 years. The Lions finished the season 7-3 overall and were 5-3 in the MIAA. Southern also broke a 20-year drought with a 35-21 win at No. 9 Pittsburg State in the season-finale. The Lions won for the first time in Pittsburg since 1983 and for the first time against the Gorillas since 1993. Nine Lions were named All-MIAA, and 11 players were named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. The Lions' Chris Barnwell and Gatlin Ridgway were named All-Region with Barnwell earning All-American honors. Giresse Forchu was an Academic All-District selection and the Lions ended the 2013 campaign as Division II's leader in time of possession, holding onto the ball for an average of 35:14 each game. Southern also ranked second nationally in both rushing yardage and fewest passes intercepted. In all, the Lions ranked in the top ten nationally in nine different categories, while ranking 14th in turnovers lost.
Former Hornet Garin Higgins enters his eighth season at his alma mater and last year led the Hornets to a 9-2 record and the school's first NCAA Playoff appearance since 2003. He has an 89-49 record in 12 years as a head coach after going 38-40 in his first seven seasons at ESU.
The Series: Missouri Southern leads the all-time series with an overall record of 22-17, including an 13-6 mark at home and 9-11 record in Emporia. Emporia has won the last two games in a row, but the Lions have won four of the last six meetings. Southern dominated the series early when both teams were in the NAIA, winning 12 of the first 15 matchups. In the last six meetings between the two schools, the average margin of victory for either team has been just 9.3 points. However, four out of the six games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
A Victory vs. Emporia State Would: be the fifth time in the last seven games the two teams have played each other. It would also be the third-straight season opener for the Lions.
Opener History: Missouri Southern is 2-0 in season openers in the Daryl Daye era. The team is 28-17-1 overall in season-opening games.
Road Opening History: The Missouri Southern football team has played 22 games on the road to start the season in the program's history. The team is 12-10 overall in openers on the road.
More Opener History: The Lions have opened the season on the road against a ranked opponent just twice in the school's history. Both times were against Northeastern State and the Lions are 1-1. The team lost 33-15 in 2000, but won 22-19 in 1988.
NFL Representation: The Lions will be one of just two MIAA teams to have two different starters on NFL rosters this year. Brandon Williams is a starter on the defensive line for the Baltimore Ravens, while Allen Barbre starts on the offensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles.
NCAA Stats Leaders: The Missouri Southern football team led Division II in 2013 in time of possession, averaging 35:14 of possession each game. The team also ranked second nationally in both rushing yardage and fewest passes intercepted. In all, the Lions ranked in the top ten nationally in nine different categories, while ranking 14th in turnovers lost.
Seven-Win Season: With the win over Pitt State, the Lions seven wins in 2013 is the fourth-most wins in a season ever at MSSU. The 1972 NAIA National Champs won 12, while both the 1993 and 1983 teams won nine games. The 1976 and 1991 teams won eight games, while the school has won seven games four times.
Time of Possession Advantage: The Lions led the nation in time of possession last year, averaging 35:14 with the ball each game, while their opponents had the ball an average of 24:46.
Tough League/Region: The MIAA has three teams in the coaches preseason top 25 this year. Northwest Missouri is No. 1, followed by Pittsburg State at No. 9 and Emporia State at No. 22. The Super Region Three, which the Lions are a part of, have nine teams in the top 25. Add in another seven teams from the region receiving votes for the top 25 that are just outside of the poll.
Weather Report: The weather report for the Emporia area on Thursday calls for a high of 95 degrees and mostly sunny conditions with a zero percent chance of rain.