South Dakota State Comes off Bye Week, Hosts Robert Morris
It will be a well-rested and healthy group of South Dakota State Jackrabbits that return to action Saturday night for the final non-conference action of the 2015 regular season.
SDSU hosts Robert Morris (PA) of the Northeast Conference for the first time ever, in the annual Beef Bowl at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings.
The Jackrabbits come into the game as the highest ranked team in school history, #6 in the STATS FCS poll, #7 in the FCS Coaches poll. SDSU is one of four Missouri Valley Conference teams in the FCS Top 7, a first for the league. South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier told me that is great recognition for what the MVFC has accomplished, but that 'elite conference' status provides extra motivation for non-conference opponents.
Saturday's opponent, Robert Morris, is trying to put a 1-10 2014 season behind them. So far the Colonials have been competitive in three games, beating Notre Dame (OH) last week after losing a pair of close games to Dayton (27-24) and #12/13 Youngstown State (21-14 OT) to start the season.
The RMU defense has been impressive, forcing eight turnovers in three games. 35 of the Colonials 73 points have come as a result of turnovers. Defensive back Ryan Richards Jr. leads the team with three interceptions, linebacker Mike Stojkovic has 34 tackles and has forced a pair of fumbles.
Offensively, RMU runs the option with running back Rameses Owens averaging nearly 100 yards rushing per game. True freshman quarterback Matthew Barr doesn't throw much and is only completing 48 percent of his passes. Protection has been an issue at times, as the Colonials have allowed 11 sacks in three games.
Kickoff is 5:00 PM in Brookings Saturday.
For the game, South Dakota State coaches will don arm patches, joining college football coaches across the country in raising awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Listen to my interview with coach Stiegelmeier on the bye week, the strength of the MVFC, and the match-up with Robert Morris: