Championship Expectations for the Jackrabbits This Football Season
*******Posted by ESPN 99.1 intern Andrew “Lil Scalabrine” Holtan. Follow him on Twitter @LilScalabrine******
It's National Championship or bust for South Dakota State this football season.
After arguably the best season since the South Dakota State football team joined the FCS, expectations are sky high in Brookings as the Jackrabbits started fall camp this week.
Those expectations are national championship or bust after the Jackrabbits went 9-4 overall and 7-1 in the Missouri Valley. That record in the Missouri Valley got them a share of their first Missouri Valley title.
SDSU earned the No. 8 seed in the FCS Playoffs and a first round bye. They defeated Villanova 10-7 in the second round before losing to NDSU in Fargo 36-10.
They return basically everyone on offense and most of their leaders on defense. The returners include junior quarterback Taryn Christion, senior wide receiver Jake Wieneke and senior tight end Dallas Goedert.
Christion won Missouri Valley offensive player of the year after he threw for 3,714 yards and 30 touchdowns and also ran for 335 yards and six touchdowns.
Wieneke had 1,316 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns and also even threw a touchdown to Christion. Goedert had 1,293 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns.
This offense is going to be at least a top-five offense in the FCS so that bodes well for the Jacks. Defense is the only place where you might have to be some what worried as an SDSU fan.
SDSU will return sophomore linebacker Christian Roozeboom, who led them in tackles last season and will also return senior defensive end Kellen Soulek who led the team with 7.5 sacks last year.
They also have a favorable schedule as they don’t play an FBS team and they play three of last year’s top five teams in the Missouri Valley at home in North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and Illinois State at home. Their two tough road games are at Montana State who is always one of the top FCS teams and at Youngstown State, who lost in the FCS national Championship last year.
There are three goals that this team has to have. The first is that they need to win the Missouri Valley outright and not share it with NDSU. The second is they have to be a top four seed in the FCS Playoffs because then they will more than likely not have to face NDSU until at least the semi finals. The third is to win the National Championship team.
This is the best team, talent wise, in SDSU history. So if they don’t reach any of these goals it would be a huge let down. I don’t know if they will ever have a more talented team than this.
The only thing that can get in the way of them achieving these goals is themselves. You have the schedule and the talent to go undefeated so now it’s time to do it.