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Jacks Ready For Showdown With USD

South Dakota State Jackrabbits football
Robby Gallagher/South Dakota State University

BROOKINGS, SD — The South Dakota State University football team will attempt to make a successful closing argument for its postseason aspirations as it hosts the University of South Dakota Saturday afternoon.

Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, with regional television coverage on Midco Sports Net.

Saturday’s game also is the inaugural contest in the South Dakota Showdown Series presented by South Dakota Corn.

The nationally ranked Jackrabbits enter the regular season finale with a 7-3 overall record and 5-2 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Should the Jackrabbits win Saturday and league-leading North Dakota State lose at Illinois State, SDSU would earn a share of their first MVFC title in what could be a four-way tie for the top spot.

USD, meanwhile, is seeking its first win as a member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Coyotes come into today’s matchup 1-9 overall and 0-7 in the MVFC.

SDSU Football Notes, 11-14-12

USD Football Notes, 11-13-12

THE SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the 105th meeting between South Dakota and South Dakota State in a series that dates back to 1889. The first meeting between the two programs ended in a 6-6 tie, and USD has gone on to lead the series by a 50-48-6 count.

SDSU and USD have not played since 2003, after which the Jackrabbits moved to Division I. South Dakota joined the Division I ranks a few years later, taking the Jackrabbits place in the Great West Football Conference before joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2012.

In the last meeting, Oct. 25, 2003, at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, the Jackrabbits scored on two long pass plays in the opening minutes en route to a 22-11 victory.

SDSU scored on the second play from scrimmage as Brad Nelson hooked up with Brian Janecek on an 84-yard touchdown pass. After holding USD to a three-and-out, the Jackrabbits scored on their first play of the next drive – an 81-yard pass play from Nelson to Josh Davis with 12:56 to play in the opening quarter.

USD trimmed the deficit to 14-8 before Nelson threw his third touchdown of the game, a 2-yarder to Solomon Johnson with 31 seconds left in the first half. A two-point conversion from Nelson to Paul Keizer capped the scoring for the Jackrabbits, who held the Coyotes out of the end zone.

The Jackrabbits dominated the series in the years leading up to the hiatus. SDSU has won 14 of the last 17 meetings dating back to 1990, including the last three.

SHOWDOWN SERIES: South Dakota Corn Utilization officials announced Nov. 7 that the organization will serve as title sponsor of the South Dakota Showdown Series, a new, year-long collegiate athletics and academic competition between South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota. Joining South Dakota Corn President Chad Blindauer in making the announcement were SDSU President David Chicoine, SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell, USD President James Abbott and USD Director of Athletics David Sayler.

The South Dakota Showdown Series, presented by South Dakota Corn, will operate on a point system in which each school can earn a maximum of 24 points per year based on head-to-head competition and Summit League Championship finishes between the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits and the University of South Dakota Coyotes in a total of 17 men’s and women’s sports. There is an academic component as well, and the university compiling the most points by the end of the school year will earn bragging rights to the specially designed traveling trophy.

“South Dakota Corn wanted to play a part in bringing this milestone rivalry series to life,” said Blindauer. “Agriculture is South Dakota’s number-one industry. It makes sense to team up with these academic powerhouses. We want to tell the story of how we are producing more with less and doing it in an efficient, effective and environmentally sound way. We are proud to serve as title sponsor for the South Dakota Showdown Series.”

The inaugural competition is under way now, with points already beginning to accumulate for the 2012-2013 school year. USD currently holds a 3-2 lead.

In addition to focusing on the points earned by both schools respectively, promoting values of good sportsmanship will be strongly emphasized among SDSU and USD fans.

Complementing the competition aspect, SDSU, USD and South Dakota Corn have designated Feeding South Dakota as the non-profit organization to benefit from the rivalry series’ launch. As the state’s primary hunger relief operation, Feeding South Dakota feeds thousands of people every year and provided 10.1 million meals to individuals in need in 2011. It was imperative to both schools and South Dakota Corn that Feeding South Dakota benefits, and concessionaire Aramark is ensuring that happens as fans attending Showdown Series’ head-to-head athletic events are encouraged to make a monetary donation for Feeding South Dakota while making their concession purchases.

Spearheading this initiative with the schools and South Dakota Corn are Jackrabbit Sports Properties and Coyote Sports Properties, the multimedia rights holders for SDSU Athletics and USD Athletics, respectively. Both are properties of Learfield Sports, which manages multimedia rights for more than 50 universities.

RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State has had a presence in the national rankings since the start of conference play. The Jackrabbits check in this week at No. 21 in the Sports Network media poll and 23rd in the FCS Coaches’ rankings.

The Jackrabbits have been ranked for seven weeks this season in the Sports Network poll. SDSU was in the rankings for four weeks in late September through mid-October. The Jackrabbits regained their spot in the Sports Network Top 25 following their victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 27, a win which also propelled them in the coaches’ poll for the first time this season. The Jackrabbits’ highest rankings this season came on Nov. 5, when they were 16th in the Sports Network poll and 20th in the coaches’ rankings.

SDSU also is ranked ninth for the second week in a row in the FCS Gridiron Power Index as a member of the top-ranked Missouri Valley Football Conference.

SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA: The University of South Dakota will attempt to end its 2012 football season on a high note as travels to South Dakota State.

The Coyotes are in search of their first-ever Missouri Valley Football Conference victory, entering play today 0-7 in league play and 1-9 overall under first-year head coach Joe Glenn. Of the Coyotes’ seven league losses, four have been by three points and one other game was decided by a touchdown.

USD is led offensively by sophomore quarterback Josh Vander Maten, who ranks fifth in the MVFC for total offense with an average of 192.8 yards per game. Vander Maten has been a dual threat, throwing for 1,443 yards this season while ranking second on the team with 485 rushing yards. He also leads the team with six rushing touchdowns, adding another seven scores through the air.

Marcus Sims leads the Coyotes with 584 yards on the ground, averaging 5.2 yards per carry with four touchdowns.

The Coyotes boast one of the top receiving tandems in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with senior Will Powell and sophomore Terrance Terry. Both players enter action today with 47 receptions, with Terry leading the duo with 520 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Powell is right behind with 507 receiving yards and two scores.

Jasper Sanders has contributed 11 receptions for 67 yards to rank third on the team, while also gaining 255 yards and scoring three times on the ground. Sanders also served as the team’s primary return man, averaging 23.6 yards on kickoff returns and 7.1 yards per punt return.

The Coyote defense has been paced in 2012 by senior linebacker Tim Marlette, who has recorded team bests of 80 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Aaron Swift ranks second with 71 tackles, while defensive back Devin Taverna has tallied 70 tackles and a team-best three interceptions.

Junior linebacker Tyler Starr, who has been a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdiviison, leads the Coyotes with four sacks among his 69 stops. Fellow linebacker Darius Hogans has recorded 66 tackles in starting all 10 previous games.

The Coyotes have been solid in the kicking game as junior kicker Kevin Robb has converted 8-of-12 field goal attempts with a long of 44 and Cole Zwiefelhofer is averaging 40.7 yards per punt. Zwiefelhofer has booted nine punt of 50 or more yards this season and landed 13 inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Football Championship Subdivision playoff field will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon on ESPNU.

Four first-round playoff games are scheduled for next Saturday (Nov. 24) at campus sites. The top 12 teams will receive first-round byes and resume action on Saturday, Dec. 1.

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Courtesy:  South Dakota State University

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