Literally by the luck of the draw, rivals Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State clash in a football season opener on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg.
The MIAA released its 10-game revised football schedule on Tuesday afternoon. The original schedule consisted of 11 games — including Pittsburg State at Missouri Southern in a season finale — but last month the NCAA Division II President’s Council reduced the number of competitions that Division II schools will play during the 2020-21 school year as a way to save money after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I thought we came out pretty well,” Missouri Southern athletics director Jared Bruggeman said. “The important thing was cost-saving measures for us. Clearly not having the farthest trips to go on this year were helpful.
“Obviously we lost a home game. We had Pittsburg State at home, now it’s on the road. But at the end of the day, as a financial decision things worked out pretty well for Missouri Southern.”
The MIAA Scheduling Subcommittee created the new schedule by doing a blind draw. The new slate has five home games and five road games for each school, and each school was asked to submit a date it would like to have protected — homecoming or family day for example — from the original 2020 schedule.
The season will start on Sept. 12 — a week later than the original slate — and there are no Thursday games. Sept. 5 is listed as an open date for all teams, and that will allow an extra week of preseason drills to help recover spring football workouts that were canceled by the coronavirus.
“The NCAA has not returned any adjustment in the length of season,” Bruggeman said. “That allows us, based on the first competition date, permission to go ahead and bring in players at the same time as we would have done.”
With 12 teams playing a 10-game schedule, there is one team that does not appear on the schedule. In Missouri Southern’s case, the Lions do not have a game against Fort Hays State. The Lions’ other long-distance opponent — Nebraska-Kearney — comes to Joplin on Nov. 7.
After opening at Pittsburg State, the Lions’ home opener is Sept. 19 against Washburn.
Missouri Southern’s other home games are Sept. 26 against Central Oklahoma, Oct. 17 against Central Missouri, Oct. 24 against Lincoln and UNK on Nov. 7. Games times and the homecoming date will be announced later.
After opening at home against Missouri Southern, the Gorillas will play three of their next four games on the road against Emporia State, Northwest Missouri and Nebraska-Kearney.
The Gorillas entertain Lincoln in their Family Day Game on Sept. 26, and homecoming is Oct. 17 against Fort Hays State.
The final two home games are against Missouri Western on Halloween and Washburn on Nov. 14.
The Gorillas do not have a game against Central Oklahoma.
“We are excited to finally release our 2020 football schedule,” PSU athletics director Jim Johnson said in a release. “Obviously so much has happened in the world over the last three months that it took a great deal of due diligence for the NCAA and its membership to determine there will be fall sports on campuses and then what those fall sports seasons would look like.”
Northwest Missouri and Central Missouri, who were co-champions for the 2019 season, will not play this year.
The other three non-matchups this fall are Emporia State vs. Nebraska-Kearney, Washburn vs. Northeastern State and Lincoln vs. Missouri Western.
Those six games not being played this fall could be the Week 1 schedule in 2021 when the MIAA plans to return to an 11-game schedule.
Sept. 12 — at Pittsburg State
Sept. 19 — Washburn
Sept. 26 — Central Oklahoma
Oct. 3 — at Northeastern State
Oct. 10 — at Missouri Western
Oct. 17 — Central Missouri
Oct. 24 — Lincoln
Oct. 31 — at Northwest Missouri
Nov. 7 — Nebraska-Kearney
Nov. 14 — at Emporia State
Sept. 12 — Missouri Southern
Sept. 19 — at Emporia State
Sept. 26 — Lincoln
Oct. 3 — at Northwest Missouri
Oct. 10 — at Nebraska-Kearney
Oct. 17 — Fort Hays State
Oct. 24 — at Central Missouri
Oct. 31 — Missouri Western
Nov. 7 — at Northeastern State
Nov. 14 — Washburn