Jacks set to take on Illinois and Nebraska

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

The good news has not stopped for the gridiron Jacks since beating North Dakota State and wrapping up the Great West Football Conference on Nov.16. Not only was offensive lineman Mitch Erickson named to the All-American team, but SDSU’s coaches were recognized also. American Football Coaches Association named SDSU Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier Division I Football Championship Subdivision Region 5 Coach of the Year and is one of 25 finalists for the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.

Now the schedule is starting to fill out with national powerhouses. On Dec. 5, SDSU announced agreements with University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 2010 and the University of Illinois in Champaign in 2011.

The Jacks will head to Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Nebraska on Sept. 25, 2010. “There’s a lot of excitement in our program and we look forward to the huge challenge of playing at Nebraska, but that’s what our program has been about throughout our move to Division I,” Stiegelmeier said (courtesy of SDSU Sports Info).

The Jacks and the Cornhuskers have met in football on one separate occasion. The Huskers thumped the Jackrabbits 58-7 in 1963. Despite the lopsidedness of the victory, SDSU officials are not concerned about the completeness of the game.

“The schools (SDSU and Nebraska) actually look a lot alike,” said SDSU Director of athletics Fred Oien. “The Bowl Schools can give 85 scholarships and they can all be full rides. In our division we can give 63 athletic scholarships but to no more than to 85 athletes. So Nebraska has 85 full rides and we theoretically have 85 three-quarter rides. You are seeing schools like Appalachian State and NDSU beat Minnesota and the gap between the major schools and us has gotten smaller.”

The match-up with the 2008 Rose Bowl-bound Illinois will land on Sept. 10. The Jacks and the fighting Illinois have never played each other before.

With Iowa State in 2008 and Minnesota in 2009, SDSU will now play against a Big 12 and Big 10 for the next four years.

Oien revealed that SDSU wanted to keep match-ups against big time schools within the region, hence all the games are within the Midwest.

Most of the talks done with SDSU are worked by Assistant Athletic Director Rob Peterson, and Stiegelmeier has the final say on whether a team is scheduled or not.

“I figure as long as it meets our vision for the football program we will play them,” said Peterson. “Anyplace, anytime, anywhere. We are not scared to play anyone. We are showing everyone that we are playing teams at the highest level.”

Although the football schedule is virtually filled up until 2012, they also have a three-year agreement with University of Delaware. SDSU has no open dates for games for neighboring schools who have recently made the Division I transaction.