Prize Pursuit

If Frank Sinatra were to sing about the 2013 Jackrabbit football team and its chances, there would really be only one tune that would be able to sum it all up. 

“High hopes.”

Nine wins in 2012, winning the first-ever home playoff game in school history and a No. 6 ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision media poll, a program-high, has folks believing that this SDSU team could be special. 

Even the vibes out of the normally calm team are different from usual. 

Coach John Stiegelmeier has previously called SDSU “the most boring team in America,” but he hopes his team can finish the regular season with a top 8 seed in the playoffs. That would mean the Jackrabbits would get a bye week in the postseason – which has expanded from 20 to 24 teams – and would give SDSU home field advantage the week after Thanksgiving. 

Quarterback Austin Sumner said he wants the Jackrabbits to earn “some rings,” a not-so-subtle hint at a desire to win conference and national championships. 

And while the always common refrain about “going 1-0 each week” remains, there is a different confidence among members of the team. A team that is confident that their success a year ago is only a sign of things to come. 

What does it mean? We’ll get our first look Saturday.

The Jackrabbits open their 2013 campaign against non-scholarship Butler at 6 p.m., at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. It’s a game where the Jackrabbits will be heavily favored and it’s the first of 12 games this season, a rarity in FCS college football allowed by an extra Saturday in the season thanks to the calendar. 

For SDSU, the excitement and hope is justified. Sumner, in his third season at quarterback, leads the offense and is fully healed from a thumb injury that was bothersome a year ago. In the backfield returns All-American running back Zach Zenner, who finished 2012 with more than 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Most of the offensive line brings back experience and should be able to pave lanes for Zenner. The Jackrabbits should be in good shape on defense as well, with sophomore linebacker T.J. Lally and seniors R.C. Kilgore and Chase Douglas returning to anchor a unit that made a leap in production from the year before.