They say if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best.

That's exactly the challenge facing South Dakota State Saturday in Brookings, as they open up Missouri Valley Conference play by welcoming the two-time defending FCS Champions, North Dakota State.

Dennis Hubbard/

The Jackrabbits are fresh off a resounding 59-20 loss at Nebraska last Saturday. It was a game that featured a lot of offense from SDSU in the first quarter, as the Jacks used Zach Zenner (who finished with 202 yards rushing) to help score 17 points in the first 15 minutes, and lead the Cornhuskers by three after one.

Head Cocah John Stiegelmeier told me that end-to-end action from both teams left him with mixed emotions in Lincoln:

Even though the Jacks maintained their #6 national ranking despite the loss, Stiegelmeier and his staff must rebuild the confidence of this team in time to face the Bison Saturday:

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State beat SDSU twice last season, by just three points during the regular season, and by 25 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs.

Game one it was nine penalties, some crucial, that did the Jacks in.  Game two it was a three touchdown explosion in the second quarter by NDSU, coupled with a lack of a running game for SDSU:

After limiting Zenner's production in both meetings last season, NDSU Head Coach Craig Bohl says that's at the top of the Bison's 'To Do' list this weekend:

There is a healthy amount of respect between these two programs, but when North Dakota State was treated to a visit by ESPN College Gameday before last weekend's win over Delaware State, some viewed it as nice publicity for the Missouri Valley Conference, Stiegelmeier is not jumping on that bandwagon:

Kickoff at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium is 2:00pm Saturday.