South Dakota Falls at Western Illinois, Heads to North Dakota State Saturday
Going to Fargo is perhaps the most difficult road trip in the FCS, if not all of college football, but for a team riddled with question marks, the journey to the Fargodome is the stuff nightmares are made of.
That's what lies ahead for the South Dakota Coyotes in week three of the Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule, a Saturday afternoon match-up with the four-time defending National Champions.
USD hasn't won a conference game in 14 tries, the latest loss coming last Saturday, 40-21 at Western Illinois.
It was a game that saw the Coyotes rack up plenty of offense, but only seven points at intermission, despite more than 200 yards and a successful onside kick in the first 30 minutes.
The offense continued to click at the beginning of the second half, as USD's first play from scrimmage went for 55 yards - Ryan Saeger to Eric Shufford - setting up a 10-yard touchdown run from Shamar Jackson to move the Coyotes to within five.
But the Leathernecks responded with the deep ball, touchdown passes of 61 and 42 yards from quarterback Trenton Norvell, who has now thrown for eight scores in his last two meetings with USD.
Running back Nikko Watson added 139 yards on 24 carries for WIU.
One of the surprise bright spots on offense for the Coyotes was freshman running back Michael Fredrick, subbing for the injured Trevor Bouma, who gained a career-high 90 yards on 19 carries.
South Dakota will try to snap a series of steaks in Fargo Saturday. The Coyotes have not beaten North Dakota State in their last five meetings, and just one time since 1988. The USD losing streak in Fargo dates back to 1978 - 15 straight NDSU's wins on their home field against the Coyotes.
The Bison needed nearly every second of last week's game at home to sneak out a 31-28 win over Northern Iowa. Down 14-3 in the second quarter, NDSU scored 14 straight to take a 17-14 lead early in the fourth.
The Panthers responded with 14 fourth quarter points and held a 28-24 lead in the game's final minute, when NDSU's Carson Wentz hit freshman Darrius Shepherd on a 18-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds left, to give the Bison a three-point win.
Wentz finished the day with career-highs in completions (26) and attempts (40), amassing 335 yards and four scores through the air, earning him Offensive Player of the Week honors in the MVFC.
North Dakota State's offense leads the nation in time of possession (38 minutes per game), while the Bison defense is tops on 3rd down, holding opponents to just a 20 percent conversion rate.
I talked with USD Coach Joe Glenn about the Western Illinois loss and the North Dakota State match-up. The conversation started with a question about Coyote offensive lineman Sam McLeran, who left the Western Illinois game after a hit left him with numbness and a lack of mobility on his right side. The interview was recorded before the school released this update on McLeran's status:
South Dakota sophomore offensive lineman Sam McLeran sustained a spinal cord injury during Saturday’s game at Western Illinois.
McLeran was experiencing numbness and a lack of mobility on his right side. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Macomb, Ill., where he was subsequently airlifted to Iowa City, Iowa, for care.
McLeran has since regained limited mobility and was able to walk with assistance. He will be moved to a rehabilitation center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, later this week.