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Missouri State Football could accommodate these teams if they move to FBS, CUSA

Missouri State’s move to Conference USA opens the door for the possibility of recognizable branded college football programs visiting Plaster Stadium to play the Bears during the regular season.

Hopefully the days of hosting programs like Western Illinois and Indiana State will be behind them once this season ends. There will now be opportunities for the Bears to host other Group of 5 programs, potentially leading to more attractive games for college football fans in the region.

Here’s an overview of some of the possibilities:

Hawaii

It’s not uncommon for new FBS teams to try to schedule Hawaii as some sort of reward for athletes for playing during transition years when they become eligible to play bowling. The Rainbow Warriors appear to have FBS slots to fill after 2024. They travel to Sam Houston this year and will host the Bearkats in 2025.

More: Missouri State to Conference USA: How does Plaster Stadium compare to CUSA Stadiums?

The state of Arkansas

Missouri State’s last matchup with the regional foe came in Dave Steckel’s first season, when the Bears lost 70-7. The Bears’ schedule has been better since then and it’s not far-fetched to believe MSU would like a home-to-home bus trip that could save it some travel. MSU has never hosted Arkansas State.

Air Force, Army, Navy

Speaking of something the Springfield area would love, the service academies have a tendency to pop up on the streets. Air Force and Sam Houston complete a home-and-home that the Bearkats hosted a year ago at NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans. The Falcons also have a home-and-home with former CUSA member UTSA scheduled. Army has open dates in the 2027 and 2028 schedules. Navy has some available in 2028 and 2029.

Washington State or Oregon State

The two remaining members of the former Pac 12 are in a scheduling crisis until they find a new place to land. Washington State has home-and-homes with San Diego State, North Texas, Virginia, Washington and Kansas State. The Beavers have home-and-homes with California, Texas Tech, Oregon, San Jose State and Houston. It seems like a big ask, but two-for-one and three-for-one might be worth a phone call.

More: Missouri State to Conference USA: Bears will continue to have a top-tier basketball venue

State of Texas or North Texas

It appears both Sun Belt programs are booked through 2027, but home-and-homes with Sun Belt programs will yield good results among the Group of 5 conferences. A bus trip or short flight to North Texas makes sense. Texas State is more of an uptick, but this shouldn’t be ruled out. The Bobcats didn’t play FCS ball as an independent until 2011 and qualified for their first bowl last year.

Tulsa

Tulsa is already on the Bears’ schedule for 2030 and 2032, with both games on the road. There have been instances where American Athletic Conference programs visited Conference USA opponents in back-to-backs and home-and-homes. These two haven’t played since 2004 and have never played in Springfield.

More: Missouri State’s move to Conference USA won’t be cheap. Here are ways costs will increase

Northern Illinois

Don’t forget the MAC as Missouri State will visit Ball State this season. You will see Missouri State negotiating return games with schools like Ball State in the future. Northern Illinois would be a logical choice for MSU in the future because it is in the neighboring state and schools like Ball State and Miami (Ohio).

Other planning options

There could be opportunities for Missouri State to play football games at regional stadiums like The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis or even Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas. The Bears will continue to play FCS schedules and a neutral site like The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis could make sense in the future if they play schools like Lindenwood or Southeast Missouri State.

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