Jacks kick off home slate with Cal Poly
The South Dakota State University football team opens the home portion of its season Saturday night by renewing a rivalry against Cal Poly in the inaugural Dairy Drive game at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Both teams enter Saturday’s matchup with 0-1 records following losses last week at Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. The Jackrabbits, ranked 11th in this week’s Sports Network media poll and 12th in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches’ poll, dropped a 38-18 decision at 24th-ranked Missouri on Aug. 30.
Cal Poly, meanwhile, fell 28-10 at New Mexico State on Aug. 28 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Mustangs, who are receiving votes in the national polls, were picked to finish fourth in the Big Sky Conference this season.
DAIRY DRIVE: The inaugural Dairy Drive game will highlight South Dakota State University’s Dairy Science Department and the state’s dairy industry, which provides an estimated annual economic impact of $1.28 billion.
Presenting sponsors for the Dairy Drive include Agropur, Bel Brands USA, Midwest Dairy Association and Valley Queen Cheese.
In conjunction with the Dairy Drive, Agropur and Davisco are sponsoring the Legen-DAIRY cheese tailgating competition. Tailgaters are encouraged to whip up their best recipe with the focus on cheese and dairy products. A judging panel in the Bowes Backyard will award cash prizes for the second- and third-place entries, with the top entry receiving a 40-pound block of cheddar cheese and a case of crackers.
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game will mark the eighth meeting between South Dakota State and Cal Poly on the gridiron, dating back to when both schools became charter members of the Great West Football Conference in 2004. The Mustangs lead the all-time series, 5-2, and carry a three-game series winning streak into Saturday’s matchup.
SDSU’s two victories in the series came during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The Jackrabbits posted a 48-35 victory at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium during the 2007 campaign en route to the Great West title.
Cal Poly has won the last three meetings, starting with a 42-28 victory in Brookings during the 2008 season. The Mustangs added 21-14 and 48-14 victories in San Luis Obispo, California, during the 2009 and 2011 seasons, respectively.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are five captains:
• T.J. Lally, Jr., linebacker, Chicago, Ill.;
• Jason Schneider, Sr., wide receiver, Andover, Minn.;
• Jack Sherlock, Sr., defensive back, Chicago, Ill.;
• Austin Sumner, Sr., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Zach Zenner, Sr., running back, Eagan, Minn.
Sumner has been selected as a team captain for the third season and Zenner is in his second year as a captain.
JACKS PICKED SECOND IN MVFC: The South Dakota State University football team has been picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference during the 2014 season, according to a preseason poll released in late July.
Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State again was tabbed as the conference favorite in the poll, which was conducted by the league’s coaches, sports information directors and select media representatives. NDSU has won 24 consecutive games entering the 2014 season.
The Bison earned 24 of a possible 39 first-place votes and 370 total points. South Dakota State was picked second in the poll after tying for second place and representing the league in the FCS playoffs a year ago. The Jackrabbits received eight first-place votes.
Perennial FCS power Northern Iowa was selected third in the poll after going 7-5 last year, with Youngstown State and Southern Illinois completing the upper-half of the poll.
Illinois State and Missouri State were picked sixth and seventh, respectively, with South Dakota, Western Illinois and Indiana State completing the 10-team poll.
A preseason favorite has claimed the league crown 16 times (in 28 previous polls). North Dakota State was picked to win the league last season.
In addition, six Jackrabbit players were named to the MVFC Preseason Team. Leading the SDSU contingent was senior running back Zach Zenner, who already holds the league record for career all-purpose yards and needs less than 300 yards to set the conference’s all-time rushing mark. Zenner has rushed for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Fellow senior Austin Sumner was tabbed as the quarterback on the preseason team. An honorable mention all-MVFC honoree in 2013, Sumner threw for 2,999 yards en route to setting SDSU career records for completions, yards and attempts.
Sumner’s primary target a season ago, Jason Schneider, also was honored on the preseason team. Schneider set a Jackrabbit single-season record with 78 receptions for 1,088 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013 to earn first-team all-MVFC honors.
Completing the Jackrabbits’ selections on the offensive side of the ball was offensive lineman Trevor Greger. A senior, Greger has started 30 consecutive games at right tackle over the past three seasons.
Sophomore Cole Langer, a member of the MVFC Newcomer Team in 2013, was selected to the preseason team after a freshman season in which he recorded 35 tackles.Honorable mention selection T.J. Lally rounded out the Jackrabbit preseason honorees. A junior linebacker, Lally finished second on the team in tackles each of his first two seasons, including 89 stops in 2013.
North Dakota State led the league with eight selections to the preseason team, followed by SDSU and UNI with six.
RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State University football team slipped slightly in the Football Championship Subdivision polls after its season-opening loss at Missouri, checking in this week at No. 11 in the FCS coaches’ rankings and No. 12 in the Sports Network media poll.
The Jackrabbits entered the 2014 campaign with their second-consecutive preseason top-10 national ranking as an FCS member. SDSU was ranked 10th in both the Sports Network FCS coaches preseason polls.
Three-time defending national champion and Missouri Valley Football Conference rival North Dakota State again holds the top spot in both polls.
OFF TO THE RACES — AGAIN: Jackrabbit running back Zach Zenner scored on a 75-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the season, Aug. 30 at Missouri. It marked the third season in a row that Zenner scored on one of his first two carries of the season. In 2012, he scored on a school-record 99-yard run on his second carry at Kansas, followed by a 36-yard run on his second attempt in the 2013 season opener versus Butler.
Zenner finished Saturday’s game at Missouri with 103 yards on 17 carries, topping the 100-yard mark for the 22nd time in his career. He has 10 career touchdown runs of at least 50 yards.
SUMNER OUT, LUJAN IN: South Dakota State starting quarterback Austin Sumner left the Aug. 30 game at Missouri late in the first quarter with a foot injury that is expected to sideline him for the next six to eight weeks.
Sophomore Zach Lujan stepped in as Sumner’s replacement and led the Jackrabbits on two scoring drives, including a touchdown drive to open the second half and pull SDSU to within 21-18. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, who played last season at Chabot College (Calif.), Lujan completed 21-of-28 passes for 239 yards with one interception.
WIENEKE SHINES IN DEBUT: Jackrabbit redshirt freshman wide receiver Jake Wieneke caught six passes for 107 yards, including a 45-yarder in the third quarter, in the Jackrabbits’ season opener at nationally ranked Missouri. Wieneke became the first Jackrabbit freshman in the Division I era to top the 100-yard receiving mark in a game, and the first since current receivers coach Josh Davis accomplished the feat three times during the 2002 season.
SCHNEIDER NEARS TOP 10s: Senior wide receiver Jason Schneider is poised to enter Jackrabbit career top 10s for receptions and receiving yards in the coming weeks — perhaps as soon as this weekend. A native of Andover, Minnesota, Schneider enters the week with 120 career receptions for 1,605 yards. He stands seven receptions and 171 yards from cracking the SDSU career top 10s in both categories.
During the 2013 season, Schneider set a Jackrabbit single-season record with 78 receptions and became the first SDSU player in the Division I era to top the 1,000-yard mark for receiving with 1,088 yards.
STEADY SYROVATKA: South Dakota State kicker Justin Syrovatka will attempt to build off some record-setting performances during his first three seasons.
A senior from Sioux Falls, Syrovatka holds the Jackrabbit record for consecutive field goals made with 15. Syrovatka’s streak began on Oct. 11, 2012, in a victory over Western Illinois. He made his last 12 field goal attempts of the 2012 season and first three attempts of the 2013 campaign, going 7-for-7 from 20-29 yards, 3-for-3 on field goals of 30-39 yards and 5-for-5 from 40-plus yards. His streak ended when he missed a 29-yard attempt at Nebraska on Sept. 21, 2013.
The previous Jackrabbit record for consecutive made field goal attempts was 13, which was set by Parker Douglass between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Syrovatka also put together a streak of 47 consecutively made PATs, which ended Nov. 9, 2013, against Indiana State. His 33 consecutive PATs to start the season were a Jackrabbit record, surpassing the 29 by Douglass in 2004. For his career, Syrovatka is 105-of-107 on PATs.
In addition, Syrovatka has moved into second place on the Jackrabbit career field goals chart with 37, breaking a tie with Brett Gorden (36 field goals from 1995-98) in the Aug. 30 season opener at Missouri. Douglass is the all-time leader with 62 field goals from 2004-07.
ZENNER ON PAYTON WATCH LIST: South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner is one of 20 players named to the initial watch list for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision by The Sports Network.
A 6-foot, 220-pound senior, Zenner is the only two-time finalist in the initial pool of players being considered for the award. A native of Eagan, Minnesota, Zenner placed seventh in the balloting in 2012 and sixth in 2013. The watch list will be updated periodically during the 2014 season, with the Walter Payton Award to be presented for the 28th time on Dec. 15. The award is selected by a panel of more than 150 sport information directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
During the 2013 season, Zenner became only the second player in FCS history to rush for 2,000 yards in two separate seasons, gaining 2,015 yards and scoring 25 touchdows — 23 rushing, two receiving — as the Jackrabbits made a return trip to the postseason. He burst onto the FCS scene in 2012 by leading the nation in rushing with 2,044 yards — an average of 157.2 yards per game.
A two-time first-team All-America selection, Zenner leads all active FCS players with 4,632 career rushing yards and 6,005 career all-purpose yards. His all-purpose yards mark already is a Missouri Valley Football Conference record, while his rushing total is 115 away from a league record.
Zenner has crossed the 100-yard mark 22 times in the team’s 28 games over the past two-plus seasons, including six performances of 200-plus yards.
For updates throughout the 2014 season, follow Twitter using the hashtag #ZennerForPayton.
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2014 football season, head coach John Stiegelmeier will be a guest on the “Jackrabbit Insider,” a weekly behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University athletics.
The half-hour television show which features interviews with Jackrabbit coaches and student-athletes, airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based MyUTV. The show is also broadcast on KELO-TV at 11 p.m. Central Sunday and at 10 p.m. Mountain Time Sunday on KDLO-TV. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
STIG SHOW: The John Stiegelmeier Radio Show airs each Monday throughout the 2014 football season.
The show is scheduled to air at 6 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, originating with flagship station WNAX 570 AM in Yankton. In addition, the weekly show also will be streamed online at GoJacks.com as part of the Jackrabbit Extra package.
Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the John Stiegelmeier Radio Show will also feature interviews with Jackrabbit student-athletes and assistant coaches. Jackrabbit fans are encouraged to attend the show in person at Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill, 307 Main Ave., in downtown Brookings.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will face their second Big Sky Conference — and former Great West Football Conference — opponent in a row when they travel next Saturday to Southern Utah. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Mountain Time (7 p.m. Central) at Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City, Utah.
SDSU’s next home action is set for Sept. 20, when the Jackrabbits close out non-conference action against Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the 48th Annual Beef Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.