The Jackrabbit football team will head down to Vermillion Saturday to play their in-state rival, the University of South Dakota, in the DakotaDome for the annual South Dakota Showdown Series on Nov. 16.
No. 19 ranked SDSU (6-4, 3-3) will battle USD (4-6, 3-3) this weekend in what will be their 107th meeting and first in Vermillion since 2003. The Jackrabbits will be fixed on keeping their playoff hopes alive by walking out of the DakotaDome 1-0. SDSU has won their previous two games to keep them in contention for a playoff berth while the Coyotes have lost their previous three games and are no longer in playoff contention.
USD’s head coach Joe Glenn says his team isn’t trying to play spoiler – they aren’t looking for any more reasons why they need to beat SDSU this weekend other than to just receive a win.
“There are maybe three games a year where you get a little something extra from your kids and this would be one of them,” Glenn said. “We are going to prepare the best we can.”
Head coach John Stiegelmeier disputes his thoughts on the rivalry and what this game means for both schools.
“It doesn’t matter what the records are, it doesn’t matter really what league we’re in, although we are both in the Missouri Valley and that’s a blessing,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I think any in-state rivalry when approached right is a huge contest and I think our [SDSU] players are still learning that … It’s going to be a battle, they’re a really good football team.”
SDSU’s 115-mile trip down south will be their first in over 10 years which allows USD the luxury of home field advantage in a highly anticipated in-state rivalry.
“It’s a big, big game in South Dakota, it’s a big game for our team,” Glenn said. “We are really looking forward to it, having South Dakota State in the dome, for the first time in ten years is huge. It kind of solidifies the fact that the Coyotes are in the Missouri Valley Football Conference
now that we get an in-state rival to come to our house.” Glenn also expressed his respect in a well-rounded SDSU program and how Stiegelmeier has maintained the team.
“John has always done a great job with his teams and his staff,” Glenn said. “Specifics, no doubt Austin Sumner and Zach Zenner are really experienced, classy players.”
Stiegelmeier isn’t taking the Coyotes lightly, as with any opponent, he never does. He believes USD was a few plays from winning a couple games this season, despite their losing record.
“We need to get closer to our god-given ability, our ability to play the game of football,” Stiegelmeier said. “Whatever happens I can live with that.”
Jason Schneider received high praise from coach Glenn as a top target to key in on during Saturday’s game. Schneider is leading the Jackrabbits in receptions this season with 59, 838 yards receiving and seven touchdowns this season.
“A guy that is real good is Jason Schneider … a big, fast guy,” Glenn said. “One of the top receivers, if not the top receiver in the league.”
On the defensive side, Doug Peete and R.C. Kilgore have earned the spotlight for the Jackrabbit defense that concerns Glenn.
“I like Doug Peete … really a tough football player,” Glenn said. “The have a linebacker named R.C Kilgore that is their leading tackler on a good defense. You just know that it’s going to be a fight until the finish.”
The hype is building swiftly as two teams clash to claim who is the best in South Dakota. Stiegelmeier touches on the rivalry and how he and his players should prepare.
“I think everybody is getting back to what this game means and what it’s going to become at this level,” Stiegelmeier said. “They’re not used to it, the thing our guys are not prepared for, is their facility, I don’t mean the quality of it, I mean that the noise and the setup … we need to get that out of our system in the first two plays so it’s not a distraction, we’re trying to prepare our guys for that.”