South Dakota State Preview: #5 Jackrabbits Host South Dakota
It's hard to believe there is more at stake for South Dakota State than a first-round bye in the FCS Playoffs when they play their final regular season game Saturday (November 17). But there are some major bragging rights at stake as well when South Dakota comes to Brookings for the seventh installment in the South Dakota Showdown Series.
The Jackrabbits have owned the series, winning all six games since the two schools went Division I. Overall, SDSU has a nine-game win-streak against USD - who last won in 2000 in Brookings.
The 2018 Coyotes (4-6/3-4 Missouri Valley Conference) are looking to end a disappointing season on a high note and would love nothing more than to derail the Jackrabbits hopes of having next weekend off before starting the postseason at home December 1.
South Dakota may have already spoiled one team's postseason plans as they ended a four-game skid last Saturday (November 10) with a 17-12 win at home over Western Illinois.
The Coyote defense came up huge in this game forcing two red zone turnovers and holding the Leathernecks to just 21 yards rushing.
The USD-SDSU match-up will feature the top two passing teams in the Missouri Valley.
South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons, in his first full season as the starter, is fifth in the nation in completions per game, seventh in passing yards, and ninth in passing yards per game (283).
South Dakota State's Taryn Christion is second in the nation in passing efficiency, tied for fourth with 25 passing touchdowns, and is fifth in yards per pass (16).
The Coyotes have great depth at wide receiver in 2018 with Kody Case back after missing five games with an injury and Dakarai Allen, Levi Falck, and Shamar Jackson combining for 124 catches and eight touchdowns.
Running back Kai Henry has seven scores this season.
Defensively, Darin Greenfield leads the team and is eighth in the conference with six sacks. He'll be going against an offensive line that has only allowed ten sacks in nine games.
Linebacker Alex Gray is tenth in the Missouri Valley in tackles.
Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
The Jackrabbits (7-2/5-2 MVFC) are rolling offensively, averaging 51 points per game during their current three-game winning streak.
Last Saturday (November 10), SDSU exploded for 31 second-quarter points in a 57-38 win at Southern Illinois.
The number-six offense in the nation rolled up 656 yards on the Salukis as Pierre Strong Jr. ran for 188 yards and three scores while Christion threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns. Both scoring tosses went to Cade Johnson who finished the day with seven catches for 198 yards.
The Jackrabbits also got a special teams touchdown when Donald Gardner blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone by Jadon Janke.
The win moved SDSU up one spot in the FCS Top 25 for the second straight week, going from sixth to fifth in the nation.
I talked with Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier about the Southern Illinois win and the match-up with South Dakota: