Missouri State vs. Central Arkansas Odds, Picks: Back Bobby Petrino In Week 1
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Bobby Petrino (Missouri State)
- Bobby Petrino heads back to Arkansas on Thursday as his Missouri State Bears take on the Central Arkansas Bears.
- Odds have moved significantly since Wednesday night in favor of Petrino's Missouri State squad.
- Read on for Collin Wilson's best bet for this Week 1 FCS matchup below.
Missouri State vs. Central Arkansas Odds
|Missouri State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Central Arkansas Odds|
-110o / -110u
Editor's Note: Since this article was published Wednesday night, Missouri State has moved from -9.5 to -15.5.
The road from Springfield, Missouri, to Conway, Arkansas, runs right past the Pig Trail.
One of the more twisted and winding state highways in the nation, the Pig Trail served as the scene where Bobby Petrino met his end as head coach of the Razorbacks. The coach quickly popped back up at Western Kentucky before revisiting Louisville during the Lamar Jackson years.
There are always two constants with a Petrino coaching regime, plenty of early success as an offensive juggernaut and a crash with a team revolt at the end. Missouri State heads into its third season with Petrino and have projections to be a major contender in the FCS Playoffs.
Central Arkansas is set to play its fifth season under head coach Nathan Brown. Famous for playing on the purple and gray field, the Bears last made the FCS Playoffs in 2019 but have been a mediocre .500 team since the pandemic season of 2020.
Central Arkansas received 14 votes in the FCS Top 25 poll, giving the Purple Bears a chance to play home underdog to the fifth-ranked Petrino Bears.
Both of these teams will play a role against SEC teams, as Central Arkansas will follow against Ole Miss, and Petrino will be on the visitor's sideline in Razorback Stadium on Sept. 17.
Petrino has hit the transfer portal full speed since taking over head coaching duties in Springfield. The current roster is a collection of more than 40 FBS players, ranging from Power Five to Group of Five schools.
None are more important than former Utah quarterback Jason Shelley. The Frisco native struggled with the Utes — and a season with Utah State — before making it onto Petrino's offense last season.
Shelley finished 2021 with more than 3,300 yards, along with 22 touchdowns.
— MO STATE Football (@MOStateFootball) November 6, 2021
In pure Petrino fashion, Missouri State became an offensive juggernaut overnight by ascending to 12th in the FCS in scoring offense. Along with Central Michigan transfer receiver Tyrone Scott, the Bears are expected to be the most explosive offense on the FCS level this year.
There are questions about depth and execution on the offensive line carrying over from last season. Shelley recorded 208 pressures on 510 dropbacks, signifying one of the highest rates in any division of football.
Of the 14 players listed as offensive line personnel, only Sean Fitzgerald of Coastal Carolina comes in from an FBS school.
After four seasons and 64 touchdowns, Central Arkansas will be without the services of Breylin Smith at quarterback.
Brown commented on his excitement for the quarterbacks currently in-house, as Will McElvain and Clifton McDowell are two dual-threat QBs who will run a new RPO scheme.
Along with Smith, the two top wide receivers and tight ends from the roster last season depart, leaving Brown with a bevy of running backs as the strength of the 2022 offense.
The offense will pivot to a multiple personnel ground attack, but there are no expected changes to the defense.
The strength of the unit is defensive edge Logan Jessup, as he recorded 33 pressures in 2021. Jessup is just one of the All-Atlantic Sun players to return to a defense that can cause Havoc between the hash marks.
— ASUN Football🏈 (@ASUN_Football) September 12, 2021
Missouri State vs. Central Arkansas Betting Pick
The Central Arkansas defense could be overwhelmed early and often in this opener.
Petrino is expected to field the top offense in the country — one loaded with skill positions from FBS — while the Bears of purple have inexperienced options at the corner position. Returning starter Nathan Page was injured most of last season, while Laquez Embry was limited in playing time.
Missouri State will take to the air and attack a new set of corners and linebackers fielded by Central Arkansas.
Defense is a question mark for Missouri State on its run to the FCS Playoffs, but in this game, a one-dimensional ground attack from Central Arkansas will not be able to expose the Bears of Springfield.
Look for Petrino to run up the score with no limitations when Shelley and Scott target the outside part of the home defense.
Pick: Missouri State -9.5