South Dakota State Preview: #2 Jackrabbits at #25 Northern Iowa
Ordinarily in the Missouri Valley Conference road teams are at a distinct disadvantage. But that's not the case when South Dakota State and Northern Iowa match-up this weekend.
Heading into Saturday's (October 20) game at the UNI-Dome, the visiting team in this hotly contested series has won each of the last four regular-season games.
The Panthers (3-3/2-1 MVFC) have plenty of momentum after a 14-point win at South Dakota last week.
In that game, UNI forced three turnovers and quarterback Eli Dunne went 23-32 thru the air for 253 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for another score and was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Week. In the last two weeks, Dunne is completing nearly 70 percent of his throws. On the season he's connected for 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Eight different receivers caught passes for the Panthers in Vermillion.
On the ground, Trevor Allen and Marcus Weymiller combine for 115 yards per game. Weymiller ran for 170 yards against SDSU last year.
The UNI offense is a perfect 22-of-22 in the red zone this season.
Defensively the Panthers have a talented linebacking group with Chris Kolarevic 11th in the nation in tackles, Duncan Ferch sixth in the MVFC in stops, and Rickey Neal notching five sacks in six games.
Kickoff is 4:00 PM, Saturday in Cedar Falls, Iowa. SDSU did win at home over UNI in the FCS Playoffs last year.
The winner stays a game back of North Dakota State in the MVFC standings. The loser will have two conference defeats and a much tougher road to the post-season.
The Jackrabbits (4-1/2-1 MVFC) ran their win streak to two games with a 36-7 win over Youngstown State last weekend.
SDSU's special teams got a blocked field goal early to set up a touchdown and the defense used a pair of interceptions to stop Penguin drives.
CJ Wilson, filling in for the injured Isaac Wallace, keyed a running game that picked up 253 yards on the day. Wilson finished with 119 of those yards, while quarterback Taryn Christion added 89, including two touchdown runs.
The Jacks threw the ball a season-low 16 times.
SDSU didn't escape unscathed from the victory. On top of losing Wallace for the season, the Jacks also saw a number of their defensive players get banged up.
I talked with Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier about the Youngstown State win and the match-up with Northern Iowa: