South Dakota Preview: Coyotes at #5 South Dakota State
It's going to be the closest thing the South Dakota football team gets to a playoff game this season - their annual head-to-head battle with South Dakota State, Saturday (November 17) in Brookings.
At the midway point of the season, the Coyotes appeared to be in the running for a second straight berth in the FCS Playoffs, but a four-game losing streak in the Missouri Valley Conference quickly dashed those hopes.
This will be the seventh meeting between USD and SDSU in the Division I era. So far all six games in the South Dakota Showdown Series have gone to the Jackrabbits, although the last three have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Overall, the Coyotes have dropped nine straight to State. USD's last win in the series was also their last road win over the Jacks, in November of 2000.
Fifth-ranked South Dakota State (7-2/5-2 MVC) is poised to make a seventh straight trip to the FCS Playoffs. A win over South Dakota will lock up a top-eight seed and a first-round bye for the second straight year.
Senior quarterback Taryn Christion leads the number-six offense in the country and top passing attack in the Missouri Valley. The Sioux Falls native has thrown 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions, while also running for four scores.
Sophomore wide receiver Cade Johnson is his top receiving target. Johnson is tied for fourth in the nation with 13 touchdowns and is tenth in FCS with better than 1,000 yards.
True freshman running back Pierre Strong Jr. has burst on the scene with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games.
South Dakota State has the fourth-best scoring offense in the nation and a sixth-best plus-11 turnover margin.
Defensively, linebacker Christian Rozeboom leads the Jacks in tackles and also has a pair of interceptions, a forced fumble, and a recovered fumble.
SDSU has been getting better pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season with Ryan Earith and Krockett Krolikowski combining for seven-and-a-half sacks.
Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
The series between USD and SDSU dates back to 1889.
Last weekend (November 10), the Coyotes won for the first time in more than a month with a strong defensive effort in a 17-12 victory over Western Illinois.
The South Dakota defense limited the Leathernecks to just 21 yards rushing and picked off a pass late in the game in the red zone to preserve the win. Alex Coker led the defense with ten tackles.
The Coyote offense had a pair of 75-yard touchdown drives and would have likely put more points on the board if it wasn't for a pair of red zone turnovers.
Wide receiver Kody Case was back in the lineup after missing five games with an injury. He led all Coyote receivers with seven catches for 71 yards.
I talked with USD head coach Bob Nielson about the Western Illinois win and the South Dakota State match-up: