If South Dakota State is going to accomplish its pre-season goals of finishing first or second in the Missouri Valley Conference and securing a first round bye in the FCS playoffs, the margin for error is razor thin.

With already one league loss this season, that moves Saturday's game at Northern Iowa, and the rest of the Jackrabbits slate of contests in 2014, squarely into the 'must win' category.

BROOKINGS, SD - OCTOBER 11: Sean Bernard #2 from Missouri State is wrapped up by Nick Mears #42, Landon Schultz #93 and Melvin Taveras #1 from South Dakota State in the first half of their game Saturday evening at Coughlin Alumni Stadium in Brookings. (Photo/Dave Eggen/Inertia)

SDSU (4-2/1-1) dug itself a huge hole at home against Missouri State last weekend, trailing by 18 points in the second quarter, before rallying for 22 straight points in a 32-28 win.

It was a game that saw the Jacks give up costly turnovers deep in their own territory, commit 11 penalties, yield five sacks, and briefly bench their starting quarterback.

Head coach John Stiegelmeier told me the game was a real test of character for his team:

In Cedar Falls Saturday, the Jackrabbits will face a Northern Iowa team (3-3/1-1) that used a pair of quarterbacks, Sawyer Kollmorgen (passing) and Brion Carnes (running), to beat South Dakota last week.

The Panthers defense also had an outstanding day in Vermillion, sacking USD quarterbacks seven times.

Coach Stiegelmeier says UNI's quarterback rotation and talented front seven on defense pose some real problems for his team:

Kickoff is 4:00pm in Cedar Falls Saturday.

SDSU is back home next Saturday for a Hobo Day game against Youngstown State.