MIAA football 2009 is set to kick off this weekend with several big-time non-conference games today and Saturday, Aug. 29.

MIAA football 2009 is set to kick off this weekend with several big-time non-conference games today and Saturday, Aug. 29.
Three-time defending MIAA Champion and 2005-2008 national runner-up Northwest Missouri (ranked No. 2 nationally) will meet a familiar foe on national television on the road against No. 5 Abilene Christian Thursday at 7 p.m. CBS College Sports will broadcast the season opener between the Bearcats and Wildcats, the third meeting between the two teams in the last two seasons. Northwest, led by head coach Mel Tjeerdsma, returns three starters on offense and eight on defense from the 2008 team that went 13-2 (9-0 MIAA).
No. 25 Central Missouri hosts Southwest Baptist Thursday at 7 p.m. The Mules have won the last 17 meetings with the Bearcats, dating back to 1991.
They have scored more than 40 points on them 10 different times and lead the overall series 19-2. Head Coach Willie Fritz and the Mules return five starters on each side of the ball from a 2008 squad that went 7-4 (5-4 in the MIAA) and finished tied for fourth in the conference.
Emporia State begins the 2009 campaign with a home matchup against Southwestern Oklahoma State Thursday at 7 p.m.
This will be just the second meeting between the Hornets and Bulldogs. Emporia State is 21-4 in season openers over the last 25 years. The Hornets, led by head coach Garin Higgins, bring back seven offensive starters and nine on the defensive side of the ball. The Hornets went 4-7 in 2008 with a 2-7 record in MIAA play, finishing eighth in the conference.
Fort Hays State hits the road to open the season at Western (Colo.) State Saturday at 2 p.m. The Tigers defeated Western State in the last meeting between the two teams, 55-3, in 2007.
Head Coach Kevin Verdugo and Fort Hays State return six starters on both offense and defense from a year ago. The 2008 Tigers finished 10th in the conference after going 2-9 overall, 1-8 in the MIAA.
Missouri Southern starts with a road contest against Harding (Ark.) Saturday at 6 p.m. The Lions defeated Harding 45-31 last season in Joplin, Mo., and lead the all-time series 3-2. Seven offensive starters and nine starters on defense return in 2009 for Missouri Southern and head coach Bart Tatum. The Lions placed eighth in the MIAA in 2008 after going 4-7 overall, 2-7 in conference play.
Missouri Western is set to play host to Northern (S.D.) State in the first game of the season Thursday at 6 p.m. The Griffons won at Northern State a year ago, 38-27, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Missouri Western and head coach Jerry Partridge bring back 10 starters on offense and eight on defense after tying for fourth in the MIAA in 2008 with a 5-4 conference record (6-6 overall) and advancing to the Mineral Water Bowl.
Nebraska-Omaha opens 2009 with a home game against East Central (Okla.) Thursday at 7 p.m. The Mavericks have met East Central once before, defeating the Tigers 34-21 in 1962.
Three starters on offense and five on defense return for Nebraska-Omaha and head coach Pat Behrns from a 2008 squad that went 7-4 overall (6-3 MIAA) and finished third in the conference.
Truman faces off with No. 17 Minnesota State-Mankato right out of the gate Saturday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs and Mavericks are 2-2 all-time against each other.
This is the third trip to Kirksville, Mo., by Minnesota State and first since 1993. Both schools are 1-1 on the road. Truman and new head coach Aaron Vlcko return seven starters on offense and three on defense from 2008. The 2008 team went 4-7 (3-6 MIAA) and finished seventh in the conference.
Washburn travels to Golden, Colo., to take on the Colorado School of Mines Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be the fifth time in the last six seasons that the two teams have played to begin the season.
The Ichabods have won the last four meetings, including a 27-3 triumph last season. Head coach Craig Schurig and Washburn bring back 10 offensive starters and eight starters on the defensive side of the ball after going 6-5 overall (4-5 MIAA) in 2008 and finishing sixth in the conference.