South Dakota Rallies to Beat Southern Illinois, Hosts #5 South Dakota State Saturday
Just two weeks left in the 2015 Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule and there's still plenty to play for as South Dakota and South Dakota State get set to meet in the 4th Annual South Dakota Showdown Series game Saturday in Vermillion.
Both the Coyotes (5-4/3-3) and the Jackrabbits (7-2/4-2) are playing their best football of the season coming in. USD has won three of four, including a 34-31 triumph over Southern Illinois last weekend at the DakotaDome.
South Dakota converted four Saluki turnovers into 17 points, while sacking SIU quarterback Mark Iannotti four times. Freshman Andrew Van Ginkel led the Coyote defense with a sack, forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. That performance earned him league Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Offensively, USD quarterback Kyle Saeger had one his finest games in a Coyote uniform, hitting on 26-of-39 (67%) passing for three touchdowns. He also ran for another score. Nine different players caught passes in the game.
South Dakota is hosting a red hot South Dakota State team that has won four of five after upsetting then-number two Illinois State 25-20 in Brookings last weekend. That win vaulted the Jackrabbits into the Top Five in the nation for just the second time in school history.
The SDSU offense was led by quarterback Taryn Christion, who overcame a slow start to throw for more than 300 yards (307) for the first time in his college career. Christion threw for two scores and was the team's leading rusher, with 65 yards and a touchdown.
All-American wide receiver Jake Wieneke had four catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Andrews had four grabs and a score.
Defensively, the Jackrabbits only allowed the Redbirds to convert one of SDSU's three turnovers into points, while holding the MVC's leading rusher, Marshaun Coprich, to just 65 yards on 22 carries. Linebacker T.J. Lally had nine tackles to lead SDSU.
ISU receiver Anthony Warrum had a big day with eight catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns.
The South Dakota State special teams (Kellen Soulek) blocked a field goal attempt with less than five minutes to play.
Saturday continues a series between the Coyotes and Jackrabbits that dates back to South Dakota's first year of Statehood - 1889. More than a century later, the series is deadlocked (USD has it 51-51-7, SDSU has it 50-50-7).
South Dakota needs to win their final two games for a chance to make the FCS Playoffs for the first time. South Dakota State needs two wins to put themselves in a position to grab a Top Eight seed in the playoffs and the first round bye that comes with it.
Kickoff is 1:00 PM at the DakotaDome Saturday.
I talked with USD head coach Joe Glenn about the Southern Illinois win and the showdown with #5 South Dakota State this weekend: