Courtesy: Morgan Gibbons/ISU Athletics
Football Gameday Central: Sycamores Travel To Illinois State For Televised League Contest
Courtesy:ISU Athletics

Ace Hunt


Year one of the Mike Sanford era at Indiana State continues Saturday, October 19, as the Sycamores hit the road for the second consecutive week — this time to Illinois State. Saturday’s game is set for a 2:04 p.m. (ET) kickoff at recently-renovated Hancock Stadium (13,391). The game will be broadcast live locally on WTWO-TV as well as worldwide on ESPN3 with Jason Pensky (pbp), Danan Hughes (color) and Mick Shaffer (sidelines) on the call. The game will also air live on WIBQ (98.5 FM), with Brian Fritz and Tom James calling the action for the Nelligan Sports Marketing Radio Network. Action can also be heard live worldwide on Live stats for the game will be available via a link on


Illinois State holds the lead in the all-time series by a 33-29-2 margin, including an advantage of 22-9 in games played in Normal, Ill. The Redbirds have won each of the last two meetings in the series, dating back to a Sycamore victory in 2010 in Terre Haute. ISU last won in Normal, Ill., in 1997 by the score of 16-13. ISU has dropped its last seven meetings at Illinois State.


INDIANA STATE: Mike Sanford (Southern California, 1978)
— Overall: 17-48 (6th Season)
— at Indiana State: 1-5 (1st Season)
— vs. Illinois State: First Meeting
— vs. Missouri Valley Football Conference: 0-2
ILLINOIS STATE: Brock Spack (Purdue, 1983)
— Overall: 30-22 (4th Season)
— at Illinois State: 30-22 (4th Season)
— vs. Indiana State: 3-1
— vs. Missouri Valley Football Conference: 21-15


— Indiana State sophomore Connor Underwood (younger brother of Illinois State’s Colton Underwood) leads the Sycamores in quarterback sacks with six.
— Senior tailback Shakir Bell enters Saturday’s game with 4,205 rushing yards for his career which is second on the Sycamore all-time list. He needs just 131 yards on the ground to become Indiana State’s all-time leading rusher and eclipse the total of 4,335 yards set by Vincent Allen from 1973-77. His 4,205 career rushing yards ranks sixth all-time in the history of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and he needs 542 to top Herb Donaldson’s record of 4,746 set from 2005-08 at Western Illinois. Additionally, Bell is just the third Sycamore and 10th player ever in the history of the Missouri Valley Football Conference to eclipse the 4,000 career rushing yard mark.


An Indiana State Win Over Illinois State Would …
• Snap a two-game losing skid overall to the Redbirds (dating back to 2010) and also a seven-game skid at Illinois State (dating back to 1997).
• Give the Sycamores five victories in their last seven MVFC road contests dating back to 2011.
• Give Indiana State its first road victory of the season as well as its first MVFC win.


The Indiana State Head Coach
Indiana State head coach Mike Sanford (Southern California, 1978) is 17-48 (.262) overall in his sixth season as a head coach, and is 1-5 (.167) in his first season with Indiana State. He is 0-2 all-time in MVFC games, including an 0-1 mark at home and a 0-1 mark on the road. During his career, he is 14-19 in all home games, 3-29 on the road and 5-7 in games decided by three points or less. Sanford is 0-0 all-time against Illinois State, and is 0-0 against the Redbirds on the road. With the Trees, Sanford is 0-0 in overtime games, and 0-0 in shutouts. Saturday’s game is Mike Sanford’s seventh as Indiana State head coach and his 66th as a collegiate head coach.


The Illinois State Head Coach
Illinois State is led by fifth-year head coach Brock Spack, who is 30-22 at the helm of the Redbird football program. Spack owns a 3-1 record against Indiana State, including a 2-0 mark inside Hancock Stadium.


Scouting The Redbirds
Illinois State is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in Missouri Valley Football Conference play this season. The Redbirds owns victories over Abilene Christian as well as Western Illinois at home this year. Illinois State is coming off a 59-21 loss at Youngstown State last week and have also fallen on the road to Missouri State in league play.


A Little History
This marks the 109th season of football at Indiana State, dating back to 1896. The University did not field teams from 1899 to 1900, 1908 or from 1910 to 1919. ISU owns an all-time record of 359-483-22 and is competing for the 28th consecutive season as a member of the MVFC.


Television Particulars
The Illinois State game will be televised live locally on WTWO-TV (Channel 7 on Time Warner Cable and on Channel 2 on Directv and Dish Network for those with Terre Haute local channels). The game is also being broadcast world-wide on ESPN3/ as part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference television package.


Shakir Bell Moves Into 2nd On ISU All-Time Career Rushing Chart
With his 80 yards rushing at South Dakota, senior tailback Shakir Bell now has 4,205 yards for his career which is second on ISU’s all-time list. Bell has reached 100 yards rushing in 21 of his 37 career games. Vincent Allen (4,335 yards from 1973-77) is the only Sycamore to rush for more career yards than Bell after passing David Wright (4,181 yards from 1992-95) against the Coyotes. Additionally, Bell is less than 1,000 yards away from reaching Herb Donaldson at the top of the Missouri Valley Football Conference record book for career rushing yards. Donaldson had 4,746 rushing yards at Western Illinois from 2005-08 and Bell is just 539 yards away from reaching his career total.


Mike Perish Close To Topping School Passing Record Yet Again
Mike Perish’s performance against league-leading and nationally ranked Youngstown State was once again near the top of the Sycamore football record book. Perish was 30-of-56 passing for 392 yards and three touchdowns against the Penguins. Perish was just four passing yards away from the single-game school record in each category. He found nine different receivers on the day and all nine had multiple receptions.


Sampson I Am
Indiana State freshman Sampson Levingston had one of the more interesting statistical lines in the history of Indiana State football with only two pass receptions but three receiving touchdowns against nationally-ranked Youngstown State. Levingston had two receptions for 56 yards, including a long of 27. He had a 27-yard TD reception, in the second quarter and also had a 21-yard TD reception late in the game. The other eight yards on his receiving total came in the fourth quarter after Kyani Harris had a 68-yard pass reception and lateraled the ball to Chris O’Leary who then pitched the ball to Levingston who went the final eight yards for his third touchdown reception of the game. Levingston is the first Sycamore to record three pass receptions for a touchdown since James Braden did it in 2001 at Missouri State (Braden also scored touchdowns on all of his pass receptions in that game). Additionally, Levingston’s touchdown on the double lateral was featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays. Levingston has six touchdown receptions on the season, which is just two shy of the school record of eight held by Steve Schmid in 1986.


Back On The Valley Road Again
Indiana State will be looking to return to its 2012 form on the road on Saturday when they travel to Illinois State. The Sycamores finished the 2012 season with a 3-1 mark in MVFC road contests, including a victory at No. 1 North Dakota State. Indiana State has dropped each of its last two MVFC road games after having won four in a row between 2011 & 2012.


Shakir Bell Returns To Action With 200-Yard Rushing Performance At Tennessee Tech
Indiana State senior tailback Shakir Bell returned to the Sycamore lineup for the first time since the season opener and did not disappoint as he went over the 200-yard rushing mark with a 25-carry, 201-yard performance on the road against Tennessee Tech on September 28. It marked the sixth time in his career that he has tallied over 200 rushing yards in a game. He had a long of 69 yards in the game and his six-yard touchdown run came mid-way through the third quarter. He led the Sycamores with six receptions for 68 yards and had a 31-yard touchdown reception on Indiana State’s first possession of the game to stake the Sycamores to an early advantage. All told, Bell accounted for 269 yards of offense on the ground and in receptions while scoring two touchdowns. He became just the third Sycamore and 10th player in the history of the Missouri Valley Football Conference to go over the 4,000-yard career rushing mark and now has 4,125 yards on the ground. Additionally, his two touchdowns give him 30 for his career (28 rush, two receiving) and is just three touchdowns away from tying the Indiana State school record.


Mike Perish Named MVFC Offensive Player Of The Week Following Quincy Contest
Mike Perish took home his first Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player Of The Week honor following his performance against Quincy on September 14. Perish was 23-of-26 passing for 379 yards with four passing touchdowns and one on the ground as the Sycamores went over 70 points for the first time since 1925 in their 70-7 victory over Quincy. Perish had 379 passing yards which are the fourth-most in a single-game in school history and was part of a school record 433 passing yards, topping a 2006 effort against Missouri State. Perish’s completion percentage of 88.4 percent (23-of-26) is likewise a new school record. Perish added a one-yard touchdown run.


Sycamore Offense Hits 70 Point Mark For First Time Since 1925
Indiana State defeated Quincy by the score of 70-7 in the home opener. It marked the first time that ISU has scored at least 70 points in a game since a 72-0 victory over Vincennes in 1925. It was the first time the Sycamores have scored at least 70 points in a game played in Terre Haute since a 79-0 victory over Vincennes in 1924. The 10 touchdowns scored by the Sycamores are a school record, topping the previous best of nine. The Sycamores have scored 119 points in three games this season, averaging 39.7 points per game, which currently ranks third-best in the MVFC.


Indiana Sets New Passing Record Against Quincy
The Sycamore offense set several records in the 70-7 victory over Quincy. Indiana State’s 433 passing yards is a school record for a single-game, topping a 396-yard effort through the air in 2006 at Missouri State. The Sycamores amassed 671 yards of total offense versus Quincy, which was just four yards short of the school record of 675 yards against Dayton set in 1975. For the season, Indiana State’s offense is averaging 424 yards per game which is fourth-best in the MVFC and they are one of six different MVFC schools to average more than 400 yards of total offense per game.


Shakir Bell Named To 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List
Indiana State senior Shakir Bell is one of 20 FCS student-athletes nationally to be named to the 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List by The Sports Network. The Walter Payton Award is given annually to the top offensive player in FCS Football. This marks the third consecutive season in which Bell has appeared on The Walter Payton Award Watch List. Bell finished tied for second in the voting back in 2011 when he became the first Indiana State Sycamore to be invited to the FCS Awards Presentation in Frisco, Texas. Last season, Bell finished 12th overall and was the second leading vote getter representing the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Bell has already earned First Team Preseason All-America honors from The Sports Network this summer and last season he was named to the Associated Press All-American Third Team after picking up four different first team honors in 2011. He was named First Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2012 and finished third in the MVFC Offensive Player Of The Year balloting. He was also named to The Sports Network FCS All-American Team last year and is the first Sycamore to earn back-to-back All-America honors since Richard Harris did it in 2000 & 2001.


Sycamore Trio Earns Preseason All-MVFC Plaudits
A trio of Indiana State seniors Shakir Bell, Calvin Burnett and FN Lutz have been named to the 2013 Preseason All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Team as announced by the league office. Additionally, the Sycamores were picked to finish sixth in this season’s 10-team MVFC race. The Preseason All-MVFC Teams as well as the predicted order of finish were determined by a vote of the league head coaches, media and sports information directors. Bell, a member of the Preseason All-MVFC First Team, is a two-time All-MVFC selection and has already been named to numerous Preseason All-American Teams as well this summer. He was the MVFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 as well as a finalist for that season’s Walter Payton Award. Burnett, a senior defensive back, is also a member of the Preseason All-MVFC First Team. He was a Second Team All-MVFC selection in 2012 and was an honorable mention pick as a freshman in 2010 when he also was named to the league’s all-newcomer team. Lutz, a senior offensive lineman, is a member of the Preseason All-MVFC Honorable Mention Team. He sat out the 2012 campaign after a knee injury in the spring game forced him to miss the entire season. Despite his injury and based on the hope that he might be ready to play last year, he was named to the Preseason All-MVFC First Team and was a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award.


Bell Sets MVFC & ISU Rushing Records In Victory Over Drake
Indiana State junior running back Shakir Bell etched his name in both the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Indiana State record books yet again on September 15, 2012 when he gained 349 yards on the ground to set both the school and conference single-game rushing record against Drake. For his efforts, Bell was named both the MVFC Offensive Player Of The Week and The Sports Network National Offensive Player Of The Week. His 349-yard rushing effort is the highest single-game total so far this season for both FBS and FCS and is the eighth-highest total ever in FCS history.


Indiana State Football With Third Consecutive Winning Season
The Indiana State Sycamores were 7-4 overall and 5-3 in Missouri Valley Football Conference play last season. The Sycamores secured their third consecutive winning campaign which is the first time ISU has enjoyed that many winning seasons in a row since the 1967-69 years under Jerry Huntsman when ISU posted six consecutive winning seasons.


Sycamores Against The Missouri Valley Football Conference
Indiana State is in its 28th season as a member of the MVFC. ISU’s first season as a league member came in 1986 when it went 1-5 through a six-game league schedule. The Sycamores are 51-120 in MVFC contests and have won 12 of their last 24 league matchups, marking the first time since the 2002 season that an ISU team has won multiple league contests over a similar stretch.


In Overtime
The Sycamores have played in 12 overtime contests since the rule was established for regular season games in the NCAA FCS Subdivision in 1996. The Sycamores are 7-5 in games that have used an extra period. ISU’s last overtime contest came in the form of a 38-35 victory against Missouri State in the sixth game of the 2010 season.


Up Next
The Sycamores return home to face off against two-time defending national champion and current No. 1 North Dakota State on Saturday, October 26. Kick-off for the contest, which will be telecast live worldwide on ESPN3, is set for 3:05 p.m. (ET) and is Ford Military Day.


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