#7 South Dakota State Beats #19 Indiana State, Plays at #11 Youngstown State
After splitting the first two games of the 2015 Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule at home, South Dakota State hits the road in league play for the first time, heading to #11 Youngstown State Saturday afternoon.
The Jackrabbits rebounded from a disappointing loss to North Dakota State with a 24-7 win over #19 Indiana State, last Saturday in Brookings. The game featured a new starting quarterback for SDSU, as true freshman Taryn Christion had his redshirt pulled so he could fill-in for the injured Zach Lujan.
The Sioux Falls Roosevelt graduate responded with his arm, going 15-of-24 for 221 yards and a touchdown, and with his legs, rushing for 99 yards on 16 carries, the most yards gained on the ground by a SDSU quarterback since 1987.
Jake Wieneke caught five passes for 90 yards.
Defensively, the Jackrabbits sacked Sycamore quarterback Matt Adam six times, the most registered by a SDSU defense since late in the 2013 season. Defensive end J.R Plote had two of the sacks, as the Jacks held the highest scoring team in the MVFC to just seven points.
The win moved the Jackrabbits up one spot, to #7, in the STATS FCS rankings.
This week, it's on the road at Youngstown State, where SDSU has yet to lose in three trips as a member of the MVFC.
The Penguins are coached by Bo Pelini, who returned to his hometown last December after seven seasons at Nebraska. The defensive-minded Pelini has already transformed YSU into the #1 pass defense in the nation, allowing just 6 completions per game for 86 an average of 86 yards.
Defensive end Derek Rivers has four sacks this season, and recorded three against the Jackrabbits in a YSU win in Brookings last season. Safety LeRoy Alexander leads the team with 30 tackles. The Penguins have struggled to stop the run at times, allowing an average of 184 yards on the ground over the first five games.
Offensively, running backs Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb combine for an average of 170 yards a game. Ruiz picked up 132 against the SDSU defense last year.
Quarterback Hunter Wells is just a sophomore and was runner-up to SDSU's Wieneke for MVFC Freshman of the Year in 2014. He's thrown for seven touchdowns and three interceptions, averaging 185 yards a game. His favorite receiver, Andrew Williams, has 17 catches in five games and caught six balls for 139 yards against the Jackrabbits last season.
The Penguins dropped two spots in the polls this week after losing to #4 Illinois State, 31-29, last Saturday at home. YSU trailed 17-12 after three quarters, but took the lead early in the fourth, before the Redbirds rallied to lead by eight with 4:18 left.
Youngstown State scored on a Wells-to-Ruiz touchdown pass with 32 seconds left and appeared to tie the game on a two-point conversion, but replays showed Wells was brought down just shy of the goal line on the conversion attempt.
Kickoff is 3:00 PM CT in Youngstown, Saturday.
Here is my interview with SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier on the Indiana State loss and the match-up with the Penguins: