For much of the last decade, the Southeastern Conference has been the class of college football.  For the first time in South Dakota State history, the Jackrabbits will get to see a SEC opponent up close and personal when they travel to Missouri to open the 2014 season, Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers are in the pre-season Top 25 after a 12-2 season in 2013 which saw them play in the SEC title game, win the Cotton Bowl, and finish in the Top 5 in the final FBS polls.

SDSU is coming off of the two best seasons in their Division I era, a pair of playoff runs in 2012 and 2013, with first round victories both years.

After that kind of unprecedented success in Brookings, head coach John Stiegelemier told me his staff doesn't have to do much to motivate this group heading into a new season:

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One of the keys for any kind of success the Jackrabbits might have on the road Saturday starts up front with a re-tooled offensive line that will be tested by talented Missouri defensive end Markus Golden and a unit that has forced turnovers in 44 straight games.

Coach Stiegelmeier says the progress the SDSU offensive line made during fall camp is encouraging:

The biggest defensive question mark for the Jackrabbits is the secondary, which has been depleted by graduation and injury.

They'll be going against a Missouri offense that is rebuilding as well, with a quarterback who has only four starts under his belt, a running game that did not have a single back who averaged 100 yards a game last season, and a thin receiving corps.

Coach Stiegelmeier says his defensive backs have made great strides in fall camp:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Now that camp is over and game week is here, the Jacks are ramping up the intensity, knowing they'll be on a big stage this weekend:

Kickoff in Columbia is 2:30pm Saturday.  The game will be televised live on ESPNU.