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Missouri State Announces 1st FBS Series With SMU, Marshall

Missouri State
© Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader/USA TODAY NETWORK

Missouri State football began in 1909 (known then as Southeast Missouri State). In that time, they’ve been in three conferences as well as being independent for 14 seasons. But soon the next chapter begins.

Starting in 2025 the Bears will begin play at the highest level of collegiate football. They will leave the Missouri Valley Conference (FCS) and move into Conference USA.


The introduction into CUSA will present its own set of challenges but Athletic Director Kyle Moats now also must step up the opponents for his out-of-conference schedule as well. He, and the rest of the Bears athletic staff, can now check two of those matchups off the to-do list (and all matchups for the 2025 slate).

Missouri State's Power Four Opponents

The latest two additions to Missouri State’s inaugural FBS schedule now include both SMU and Marshall. After securing their final American Conference Championship against Tulane, the Mustangs will begin play in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season. Their addition to the Bears schedule marks two Power Four opponents for the first time since 2012 (Kansas State and Louisville). SMU will also mark the first-ever P4 opponent to play a game in Robert W. Plaster Stadium. Expect the attendance record of 18,386 to be surpassed in this matchup. The Mustangs will host the Bears in 2026 to complete the series. 

The Marshall Thundering Herd hail from the Sun Belt conference. The historic program will first host the Bears in 2025 before returning the trip to Springfield, Mo., in 2026. Marshall started the 2023 season 4-0, with a victory against Virginia Tech before suffering a 2-7 record down the stretch. They did still reach a bowl game and are expected to challenge for the Sun Belt East title this upcoming season. The Herd will travel to Springfield in Week 2 of the 2026 campaign.

Those additions now cement the 2025 schedule, which also includes an opening week game against Southeastern Conference opponent Arkansas in Fayetteville and a Sept. 20 home matchup versus the University of Tennessee at Martin. The excitement around the Missouri State football program continues to build and ticket sales will certainly see a boost with these latest series announcements.

2025 Nonconference Schedule

Aug. 30: at Arkansas

Sept. 6: at Marshall

Sept. 13: SMU

Sept. 20: UT-Martin

2026 Nonconference Schedule

Sept. 5: at Kansas State

Sept. 19: Marshall

Sept. 26: at SMU

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