South Dakota Preview: Coyotes Host #11 Northern Iowa
The Panthers (2-2) have a FBS road win already this season (over Iowa State) and feature one of the best running quarterbacks in all of college football, senior Aaron Bailey.
Bailey, a transfer from Illinois, was the MVFC Newcomer of the Year in 2015, finishing his first season as a Panther with 1,334 yards on the ground and 1,656 passing yards.
In 2016, he's picked up right where he left off, averaging 80 yards rushing and 172 yards passing per game. He's emerging as more of a passing threat this season, as evidenced by a very efficient 11-of-18 and three touchdown game against Southern Illinois last week. In 2016, Bailey has thrown 105 passes without being picked off.
Senior running back Tyvis Smith is tough to bring down at 6'1, 226 pounds. He's averaging 81 yards on 20 carries per game this season.
When UNI throws the ball it's usually in the direction of junior wide receiver Daurice Fountain. Fountain leads the Panthers in catches, receiving yards, and has hauled in four of Northern Iowa's five touchdown throws so far.
Defensively, South Dakota will be going up against a formidable run-stopping unit for the second straight week.
UNI ranks fourth nationally against the run, allowing opponents just 68 yards per game and not a single touchdown on the ground this season. That's due in large part to the play of senior lineman Karter Schult. Schult leads all of Division I college football in tackles for loss (13) and quarterback sacks (7.5).
Behind him is a group of active linebackers - Jared Farley, D'Shawn Dexter, and Duncan Ferch - who have 69 tackles between them in four games.
They limited the Coyotes to just 54 yards rushing in a 20-7 win last year in Cedar Falls.
Kickoff in Vermilion is 2:00 PM, Saturday. It is the 100th Dakota Days celebration for USD.
In Youngstown last week, it was a tough day for the Coyote offense, who were kept out of the end zone for the first three quarters, before breaking through for a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns in a 30-20 loss.
The Coyotes (1-3) were plagued by a first quarter turnover for the third straight game and later victimized by a pick-six for the fourth time in three games. In four games, 11 USD turnovers have been converted into 66 opponents' points.
With the offense struggling, the USD defense was on the field for more than 38 minutes against the Penguins, but did their best to keep the game close, forcing four turnovers and stopping YSU on downs twice, including a goal line stand in the second quarter.
Overall, Youngstown managed just two touchdowns in seven red zone trips against the Coyotes defense, who got a big game from sophomore safety Andrew Gray (10 tackles, INT) in his first collegiate start.
I asked Coyote head coach Bob Nielson about the loss in Ohio and this week's match-up with Northern Iowa: