Ranked Jacks, Coyotes to face off


Collegian file photo

The Jackrabbits and Coyotes last played at Dana J. Dykhouse stadium in 2018, because the 2020 game was canceled by the pandemic. On Saturday, the teams renew their rivalry in the DakotaDome.

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota Showdown Series returns for the first time in nearly two years, as the No. 4 Jackrabbits will head to Vermillion to take on the No. 19 South Dakota Coyotes Nov. 13 in the DakotaDome.

This will be the 116th matchup between these two rivals, and the Jacks are looking to win for the ninth time in the last ten games. The Jacks hold the narrow lead in the all-time series 55-53-7.

The last time these two teams met was in 2019, when USD inched out in a close 24-21 win against the Jackrabbits.

This matchup is the oldest rivalry in college football between two public Universities hailing from the same state. 

About South Dakota State

After losing their last two home games this season, the Jackrabbits (7-2, 4-2 Missouri Valley Football Conference) got their first conference win at home, beating North Dakota State 27-19.

Against the Bison, the Jackrabbits put up 349 yards of total offense, including 181 on the ground against the top-ranked Bison defense.

The Jacks have the fourth best scoring offense in the country, outscoring their opposites by an average of 40.7 points per game.

SDSU’s defense has been having a great season, giving up 157 points to opposing teams and allowing only around 17 points scored on them per game.

SDSU has a total of 4,136 yards with 2,251 coming from passing and the other 1,885 yards on the ground.

The Jacks defense held their own against NDSU’s offense. Chase Norblade got the sole interception of the game, which he ran back for 15 yards. Adam Bock and Isaiah Stalbird racked up a combined total of 22 tackles in the win as well.

“We know we have to go in there and play our best football,” said SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier. “We’re looking forward to the type of environment that we expect, which really is exciting for a rivalry game.”

About South Dakota

South Dakota, led by coach Bob Nielson, has an overall record of 6-3 and a conference record of 4-2 this season. Their two MVFC losses are to Illinois State and Missouri State earlier this season, while heir only non-conference loss was to FBS opponent Kansas, in a 17-14 game back in week 1.

In week 2, the coyotes stormed over Northern Arizona in an easy 34-7 win.

This season, the USD offense has averaged 29.7 points per game, and they’ve outscored their opponents by 113 total points. 

The coyotes have found success this season in their run defense which has given up an average of 94 yards per game.

In their last performance, USD doubled the score of opponent Western Illinois 42-21, on the road.

After this week, the Coyotes are set to play NDSU for their last regular-season game of the season.

“University of South Dakota’s an excellent football team,” Stiegelmeier said. “Coach Nielson is doing a great job and he’s done a great job.”

Key players for SDSU

Leading the surge of passing yards for the Jackrabbit offense this season is quarterback Chris Oladokun, who is throwing a solid 61.1% on 1,991 yards with 16 touchdowns. 

Rushing leader Pierre Strong Jr. has been on fire this season rushing for a total of 1,142 yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns. Strong leads the FCS in rushing yards and he has already run for the most yards in a season in his career with two games still remaining.

In SDSU’s last outing against NDSU, wide receiver Jaxon Janke caught six receptions for 118 yards, which was a season-high for the South Dakota native.

Jaxon is their leading receiver in receiving yards with 668. Standout tight end Tucker Kraft is the team’s second-leading receiver. He has had 543 yards and five touchdowns so far this season.

For the Jacks defense, Adam Bock has a total of 74 tackles on the season with two forced fumbles and an interception. He has been one of the many highlights of SDSU’s defense.

Also on defense, all-American cornerback Don Gardner made his return last week after missing his last five games due to an arm injury.

Key players for USD

Carter Bell has been the Coyotes best receiver this season. Last week, he racked up 182 yards and two scores, including a 91-yard breakaway touchdown against Western Illinois.

Running back Travis Theis has had a successful season as well, rushing for 607 yards with seven touchdowns, averaging a solid 4.8 yards per carry.

Nate Thomas has also been doing his part for the Coyotes rushing attack this season. Thomas has 505 rushing yards on 74 attempts this season along with four scores.

Quarterback Carson Camp should also be on SDSU’s radar after coming off a season-high 246 passing yards and two passing touchdowns last week. Camp has 1,566 passing yards on the season with 13 touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Jack Cochrane has been having a really good season where he currently leads the USD defense in tackles with 74, and interceptions with three.