#14 South Dakota State Falls at Home to #18 Northern Iowa, Heads to Missouri State Saturday
When you play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, arguably the top conference in FCS Football, the margin between winning and losing each week can be quite thin.
Just ask South Dakota State, who continued to be very stingy on defense, allowing a touchdown for just the second time in the past three games, but still falling 10-7 to #18 Northern Iowa last Saturday in Brookings.
The Panthers defense was equally as disruptive at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, collecting five quarterback sacks as part of their 12 tackles for loss. Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Week, Karter Schult, accounted for three of those sacks. South Dakota State's high powered offense was held to just 259 yards on the day.
The Northern Iowa defense turned in the biggest play of the day, stopping SDSU running back Kyle Paris on fourth-and-one from the Panther 10 with less than two minutes to play.
UNI quarterback Aaron Bailey was the offensive star of the game, picking up 169 yards on the ground, including 44 of the 60 yards on the Panthers lone touchdown drive of the game.
The loss moved South Dakota State down eight spots in the STATS FCS rankings this week, down to #14 in the nation.
The Jackrabbits are on the road this week, playing at last place Missouri State.
The Bears are the only winless team in Missouri Valley play, losers of five straight overall. The latest setback coming at South Dakota, 40-10, last weekend.
MSU is last in the MVC in offense and defense and has been outscored by an average of 35 points per game in four league contests.
The two bright spots for the Bears in 2015 are their special teams play and the play of linebacker Dylan Cole.
In the kicking game, Deion Holliman is one of just two players in FCS with a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown this season. MSU punter Chris Sullens is closing in on the league's all-time best yardage mark for a career. The Bears are #1 in the MVC in punt return average, #2 in kickoff coverage, #3 in punting, and #4 in kickoff return average.
Cole had a 21-tackle day against USD last weekend, the best single-game effort in the conference this season. His 12 tackles per game average ranks him seventh in the nation.
Kickoff is 2:00 PM Saturday, in Springfield, Missouri.
Here is my interview with SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier on the Northern Iowa loss and the match-up with Missouri State: