The Jackrabbits, runner-up of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, will host Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Illinois in first-round action of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. The game will be available for viewing on ESPN3.com
SDSU enters the matchup with an 8-3 overall record. Eastern Illinois is 7-4 overall. The winner of Saturday's game will travel to top-seeded North Dakota State on Dec. 1.
The Jackrabbits are making their second FCS playoff appearance in the last four years. Eastern Illinois, meanwhile, has qualified for its 14th postseason appearance since 1981.
Tickets are now on sale to the general public. Per NCAA policy, all fans attending a postseason game must purchase a ticket. Student and youth tickets are $10, with adult tickets $25. Orders are accepted in person at the Jackrabbit Ticket Office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. - please note state offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Ticket orders also can be made by calling 1-866-GO JACKS during business hours, or online at JackrabbitTickets.com. The Coughlin-Alumni Stadium ticket booth will open at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
THE SERIES: Saturday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Eastern Illinois in football. The Jackrabbits have never faced an Ohio Valley Conference opponent since moving to the Football Championship Subdivision from the NCAA Division II ranks at the start of the 2004 season.
ONLINE COVERAGE: Audio coverage of Saturday's game is scheduled to be available via the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio of all games and video streaming of select games are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for a year of service.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins at 1 p.m. Central Time on the Jackrabbit Sports Network. Tyler Merriam will call the play-by-play, with former Jackrabbit player Mike Struck providing color commentary and Scotty Kwas providing sideline updates. Yankton-based WNAX 570 AM will again serve as the flagship station of the Jackrabbit Sports Network, which includes the following affiliates:
• KJJQ 910 AM-Brookings
• KBFS 1450 AM-Belle Fourche
• KMSD 1510 AM-Milbank
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KSDR 1480 AM-Watertown
Video streaming of Saturday's game will be exclusively on ESPN3.com, with coverage starting at 2 p.m.
RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State has had a presence in the national rankings since the start of conference play. The Jackrabbits check in this week at No. 19 in the Sports Network media poll and 21st in the final FCS Coaches' regular season rankings.
The Jackrabbits have been ranked for eight weeks this season in the Sports Network poll. SDSU was in the rankings for four weeks in late September through mid-October. The Jackrabbits regained their spot in the Sports Network Top 25 following their victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 27, a win which also propelled them in the coaches' poll for the first time this season. The Jackrabbits' highest rankings this season came on Nov. 5, when they were 16th in the Sports Network poll and 20th in the coaches' rankings.
SDSU also holds its highest ranking in the Gridiron Power Index by tying for seventh place with fellow playoff qualifier Georgia Southern this week. The Missouri Valley Football Conference remains the highest-ranked league in the GPI, while the Ohio Valley stands fourth. Eastern Illinois is 22nd in this week's GPI team rankings.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: South Dakota State will be facing a ranked opponent for the fourth time this season, when it hosts Eastern Illinois on Saturday.
The Jackrabbits are 2-1 against ranked foes this season, recording a 24-10 win at then-No. 22/25 Indiana State on Sept. 22 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener, then posting a 41-28 home victory over then-No. 21/22 Youngstown State on Oct. 27. SDSU's loss came at No. 1 North Dakota State, 20-17, on Nov. 10.
Playing a ranked opponent is nothing new for the Jackrabbit football team, which has taken on some of the nation's elite Football Championship Subdivision programs since moving up from Division I at the start of the 2004 season.In its nine seasons at the FCS level, SDSU has played 40 games against ranked FCS opponents, going 13-27.
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are five captains:
• Seth Daughters, Sr., tight end, Winner, S.D.;
• Bo Helm, Sr., defensive back, Childress, Texas;
• Ross Shafrath, Sr., linebacker, Hampton, Iowa;
• Austin Sumner, So., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Winston Wright, Jr., defensive back, Lee's Summit, Mo.
The Jackrabbits broke from tradition this season by naming two non-senior players - Sumner and Wright - as captains. Previously, all team captains were selected from the senior class.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: The Jackrabbit football team will attempt to remain unbeaten at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium this season when it hosts Eastern Illinois on Saturday.
SDSU is 5-0 this season at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and has won its last six home games dating back to the 2011 campaign. The Jackrabbits last posted an undefeated home season in 2004, when they went 4-0.
In 51 seasons at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, the Jackrabbits have compiled a 169-102 home record (.624 winning percentage). In the Division I era, which began in 2004, SDSU is 36-11 (.766 winning percentage) at CAS.
As the Jackrabbits have made their playoff march, they are on pace to set a new single-season average attendance record. Through five home games this season, SDSU has drawn an average of 13,338 fans per game - slightly ahead of the record of 13,265 set during the playoff season of 2009.
All five home games this season have drawn more than 10,000 fans, with the Nov. 17 game against South Dakota (15,278) and Oct. 27 Hobo Day game versus Youngstown State (14,966) ranking seventh and 10th, respectively, for single-game crowds in stadium history.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: South Dakota State is making only its third-ever appearance in the NCAA football playoffs, and the Jackrabbits are in search of their first postseason win.
SDSU reached the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time in 2009 after finishing the regular season with an 8-3 overall record and 7-1 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. An at-large selection, the Jackrabbits fell at top-seeded Montana, 61-48.
South Dakota State's only other postseason game came in the opening round of the 1979 NCAA Division II Playoffs, when the Jackrabbits came out of the short end of a 50-7 decision at Youngstown State (Ohio).
Current Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier was a student assistant coach on the 1979 squad that finished the regular season with a 9-2 record.
SCOUTING EASTERN ILLINOIS: Eastern Illinois has returned to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference under the guidance of first-year head coach Dino Babers.
Previously an assistant coach at Baylor, Babers has implemented a fast-tempo offense anchored by a pair of Walter Payton Award candidates. Junior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has attempted 499 passes this season, completing 306 (61.3 percent) for 3,602 yards. He has thrown 31 touchdown passes against 14 interceptions.
Garoppolo's primary receiver has been fellow junior Erik Lora, who leads the nation with 124 receptions for 1,531 yards. He has caught 12 touchdowns and also serves as the team's punt returner.
Three other receivers have caught more than 30 passes. Chris Wright has tallied 49 receptions for 834 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Chavar Watkins has 45 receptions for 504 yrds and four touchdowns. Sam Hendricks rounds out the receiving corps regulars with 34 catches for 294 yards and a pair of scores.
On the ground, Jake Walker has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, entering play Saturday with 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns.
As a team, the Panthers rank sixth in passing offense (345.3 yards per game), sixth in total offense (480.5 ypg) and seventh in scoring offense (38.9 points per game).
On the flip side, the Panthers rank 50th or lower among FCS programs in nearly every defensive category except for tackles for loss, where they rank 10th with an average of 7.55 per game. Senior defensive end Artavious Dowdell leads the way with 13.5 tackles for loss, including 7.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Greg Mahan has contributed 10 tackles for loss and five sacks during his senior season.
Middle linebacker Robert Haynes is the team's top overall tackler with 95 tackles. He also shares the team lead for interceptions with two.
Kicker Cameron Berra has made 11-of-12 field goal attempts this season with a long of 44. Berra is 5-for-5 from 40-plus yards this season.
Eastern Illinois is 1-1 against Missouri Valley Football Conference teams this season. The Panthers scored a 49-28 home victory over Southern Illinois in the season opener Aug. 30, then dropped a 54-51, double-overtime game at Illinois State on Sept. 15.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: South Dakota State has racked up a number of Missouri Valley Football Conference player of the week awards during the 2012 season.
Over the past four weeks, five Jackrabbits have earned MVFC recognition: sophomore quarterback Austin Sumner as offensive player of the week on Oct. 27, redshirt freshman linebacker T.J. Lally as newcomer of the week both on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, sophomore kicker Justin Syrovatka as special teams player of the week on Nov. 3, and junior left tackle Bryan Witzmann as offensive lineman of the week on Oct. 27.
Lally has earned MVFC Newcomer of the Week recognition four times this season, while Witzmann received the MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week award for the second time in 2012.
ZENNER ON PAYTON WATCH LIST: South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner remains under official consideration for the Walter Payton Award.
The Walter Payton Award, presented by The Sports Network, and in its 26th year, is presented to the outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
A sophomore from Eagan, Minn., Zenner has fallen out of the lead in rushing averagefor the Football Championship Subdivision, but still ranks second with 154.8 yards per game. His 1,703 net yards rank second among FCS players and eighth in total rushing yards among all players in NCAA Football this season, Zenner is only the third back in Missouri Valley Football Conference history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in five games.
The Payton Award will be voted on this week by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. The top three vote-getters will be invited to the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.
Zenner set career highs with 23 carries and 183 rushing yards in the Jackrabbits' 2012 season-opening loss at Kansas on Sept. 1. He opened the scoring with a 99-yard touchdown run - the longest offensive play from scrimmage in program history, surpassing Mike Lunde's 95-yard run against North Dakota in 1976. Zenner also caught four passes for 27 yards, giving him 210 all-purpose yards in the contest.
He followed that performance by again establishing career highs with 34 carries for 278 yards at Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 8. Zenner scored on a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter at Southeastern Louisiana, then added a pair of touchdowns - including the game-winning 23-yard score - en route to 197 yards Sept. 15 versus UC Davis as he crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career.
Zenner tallied runs of 57 and 87 yards Sept. 22 at Indiana State en route to 237 yards on 29 carries, then turned in a 30-carry, 182-yard performance Sept. 29 against Missouri State that included an 88-yard touchdown run.
On Oct. 13 versus Western Illinois, Zenner scored on runs of 46 and 60 yards en route to 171 yards. After topping the 100-yard mark in each of the first seven games, Zenner was held below the century mark for three consecutive games before tallying 164 yards on 28 carries in the Nov. 17 win over South Dakota.
Four of Zenner's single-game performances rank in the top 60 among FCS players in 2012, with his 278-yard outing at Southeastern Louisiana ranking fifth. His 237-yard performance at Indiana State ranks 14th. For the season, Zenner is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
While holding the fourth-best single-season rushing total in Jackrabbit history, Zenner also moved into ninth place in career rushing last week with 2,173 yards, passing both Joe Thorne (2,156 from 1959-61) and Paul Klinger (2,161 from 1990-94).
As a kick returner and running back during his redshirt freshman season, Zenner ranked third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2011 with an average of 123.1 all-purpose yards per game, earning him a spot on the league's all-newcomer team.
LALLY RECEIVES RICE ATTENTION: For the second year in a row, the South Dakota State University football team has a player under consideration for the Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Earlier this week linebacker T.J. Lally was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Jerry Rice Award.
A redshirt freshman from Chicago, Lally shares the team lead with six sacks and two forced fumbles, ranks second on the nationally ranked Jackrabbits for tackles with 89, is tied for second with two interceptions and ranks second with eight tackles for loss. He has been named Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Week four times and also was named MVFC Defensive Player of the Week following the Jackrabbits' conference-opening win at Indiana State on Sept. 22.
Lally is one of three Missouri Valley Football Conference players to be named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award. Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen and Western Illinois linebacker J.J. Raffelson also are being considered for the award, which is named for the legendary wide receiver, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State.
The award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries this week. The award is to be presented Dec. 17 in Philadelphia.
During the 2011 season, Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner placed third in the balloting for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award.
SUMNER AT THE HELM: South Dakota State University quarterback Austin Sumner is building off an impressive freshman season a year ago.
Although not expected to play in the Sept. 1 season opener at Kansas due to an injury suffered in practice the previous week, Sumner entered the game in the third quarter and led the Jackrabbits on two scoring drives, including throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Tyrel Kool early in the fourth quarter. Sumner finished the game 14-of-31 passing for 175 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted four times. He followed with a two-touchdown performance at Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 8.
Sumner put together his best performance of the 2012 season Oct. 27 against Youngstown State, throwing for a career-best five touchdowns and season-best 351 yards. His touchdown passes went to five different receivers and covered 6, 50, 13, 17 and 49 yards.
On Nov. 3 at Southern Illinois, Sumner directed a game-winning 18-play, 94-yard drive in the final three minutes with the team out of timeouts. He completed 11-of-16 passes on the drive for 110 yards, capping the march with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Tiefenthaler with seven seconds remaining. He finished with season highs of 26 completions and 45 attempts in throwing for 284 yards. Sumner also recorded a career-long run of 24 yards in the contest.
A native of Brandon, S.D., Sumner started the final eight games of the 2011 season, leading the Jackrabbits to a 4-4 record and setting the Missouri Valley Football Conference freshman record with 2,382 yards passing. Sumner, who finished third in the voting for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision, also tied a Jackrabbit single-game record with 37 completions versus nationally ranked Northern Iowa on Oct. 15, 2011.
He currently stands ninth in career passing yards at SDSU with 4,483.
Sumner topped the 300-yard mark five times in 2011, including throwing for a career-best 377 yards in a double-overtime win over Missouri State. In only 20 career games - 17 starts - Sumner has tallied 4,211 career passing yards to move into 10th place on the Jackrabbit career charts.
TRIPLE THREAT: South Dakota State's Tyrel Kool has shifted all around the field during his Jackrabbit career and is again seeing action mostly at wide receiver in 2012.
A senior from Yankton, Kool began his collegiate career as a running back and kick returner, but switched to wide receiver during the 2010 season, when he led the team with 64 receptions for 808 yards. His receptions total is fifth-most in a season by a Jackrabbit player, while his receiving yards mark stood 10th in a single season as he earned honorable mention all-Missouri Valley Football Conference recognition.
In 2011, Kool moved back to running back and led the team with 534 yards rushing. He made the most of his first career start at running back, racking up 107 yards on the ground and another 79 through the air in the Jackrabbits' 2011 season opener against Southern Utah.
Kool started at wide receiver in the Sept 1 season opener at Kansas and recorded a team-high eight receptions for 76 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. He added catches of 41 and 50 yards en route to a three-reception, 98-yard outing against Youngstown State on Oct. 27. His 50-yard reception went for his second touchdown of the season.
Following a seven-reception, 112-yard performance Nov. 17 against South Dakota, Kool upped his team-leading receptions total this season to 39.
He and teammate Aaron Rollin are in a battle for moving up the SDSU career receptions chart. Both players enter action Saturday tied for sixth place with 130 receptions.
In the Oct. 13 game against Western Illinois, Kool returned the opening kickoff 100 yards untouched for a touchdown. It tied the longest kick return in school history and was the first kick return for touchdown by a Jackrabbit player since October 2007.
Additionally, Kool saw time at defensive back late in the 2009. He recorded 10 total tackles, including three in the Jackrabbits' playoff game at Montana.
ROLLIN RETURNS: Senior wide receiver Aaron Rollin rejoined the SDSU lineup Sept. 22 at Indiana State after being injured in the Sept. 8 game at Southeastern Louisiana.
A native of Lee's Summit, Mo., Rollin entered the Jackrabbit career top 10 in a pair of receiving categories during the Nov. 3 game at Southern Illinois. He stands in a tie for sixth in career receptions (130) and ninth in career receivng yards (1,724).
Rollin became the first Jackrabbit receiver to top the 100-yard mark in a game this season, tallying three catches for 108 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown, Oct. 27 versus Youngstown State.
Rollin put together a breakthrough 2011 campaign, leading the team with seven touchdowns while sharing the team lead with 61 receptions. He teamed with Dale Moss to give SDSU one of the top receiving tandems in the nation as both receivers topped the 900-yard mark.
Rollin was held without a catch in the 2012 season opener at Kansas, ending his streak of consecutive games with a reception at 21, dating back to the 2009 season.
SHAFRATH STICKING OPPONENTS: Senior linebacker Ross Shafrath led the team in tackles each of the first six games of the season and has a team-best total of 125 after notching his eighth double-figure tackle total with 15 Nov. 10 at North Dakota State.
Shafrath's 125 tackles are the most in a season by a Jackrabbit player since Greg Osmundson recorded 126 tackles in 1989.
A native of Hampton, Iowa, Shafrath ranks fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision with an average of 6.64 solo tackles per game and also ranks in a tie for eighth in the FCS for total tackles with an average of 11.4 per contest. Shafrath established a new career high with 17 tackles to again lead the Jackrabbits in their 41-28 victory over Youngstown State on Oct. 27.
Shafrath opened 2012 with a then-career-high 16 tackles Sept. 1 at Kansas. His total was the most by a Jackrabbit player since linebacker Mike Lien notched 18 tackles in a 2010 game at North Dakota State. He then notched eight stops in the Sept. 8 win over Southeastern Louisiana and shared team-high honors with 10 stops versus UC Davis on Sept. 15. He again led the squad with 11 tackles in the Jackrabbits' league-opening win at Indiana State on Sept. 22, followed by a 12-tackle, two-interception performance Sept. 29 versus Missouri State en route to being named Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Shafrath has tallied double digits in tackles in 10 of the last 14 games dating back to last season, including 12 in the Oct. 13 game against Western Illinois.
A senior from Hampton, Iowa, Shafrath ranked fourth on the team in 2011 with 66 tackles despite being a part-time starter. His previous career high was 13 tackles at Missouri State on Oct. 29, 2011.
SYROVATKA STEADY: Sophomore placekicker Justin Syrovatka has been a consistent performer on special teams for the Jackrabbits during the 2012 season.
A Sioux Falls native, Syrovatka has made his last eight field goal attempts en route to a team-best 67 points. Four of Syrovatka's field goals during his streak have been from at least 40 yards, including a career-best 48-yarder just before halftime in the Nov. 17 game against South Dakota.
For the season, Syrovatka is 4-for-5 from 40-plus yards and has made 25-of-26 extra-point attempts.
STOUT DEFENSE: The Jackrabbit defense has been a resurgent unit in 2012,
currently ranking in the top 20 of five different categories among Football Championship Subdivision programs:
• Pass Efficiency Defense, fourth, 98.82;
• Scoring Defense, fourth, 15.91 points per game;
• Total Defense, eighth, 297.73 yards per game;
• Rushing Defense, 12th, 113.55 yards per game.
• Sacks, tied for 20th, 2.73 per game;
During its five-game winning streak this season, the Jackrabbit defense did not allow more than one offensive touchdown in any game. SDSU has held the opposition without an offensive touchdown three times this season, including the Nov. 17 victory over South Dakota.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: The Jackrabbit kickoff return unit has helped the team win the field position battle throughout the 2012 season. Entering play this week, SDSU ranks 15th among FCS programs with an average kickoff return of 23.29 yards.
Six different players have returned kicks this season, including Tyrel Kool, who ran back the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown Oct. 13 against Western Illinois. Trevor Tiefenthaler has added an average of 23.1 yards on 16 returns, including a long of 46 yards.
BIG PLAYS: South Dakota State has patched together a number of big plays during the 2012 season. In all, the Jackrabbits have totaled 15 plays from scrimmage and a pair of kickoffs of more than 40 yards, including four pass plays in the Oct. 27 Hobo Day game versus Youngstown State.
In addition, six of Zach Zenner's have covered at least 42 yards, with his 10 touchdowns covering a total of 478 yards, an average of 47.8 yards.
• Zach Zenner 99-yard run (for TD), at Kansas, 9-1-12
• Zenner 42-yard run, at Southeastern Louisiana, 9-8-12
• Zenner 61-yard run (for TD), vs. UC Davis, 9-15-12
• Zenner 57-yard run (for TD), at Indiana State, 9-22-12
• Zenner 87-yard run, at Indiana State, 9-22-12
• Zenner 88-yard run (for TD), vs. Missouri State, 9-29-12
• Zenner 46-yard run (for TD), vs. Western Illinois, 10-13-12
• Zenner 60-yard run (for TD), vs. Western Illinois, 10-13-12
• Brandon Hubert 42-yard reception from Austin Sumner, at Kansas, 9-1-12
• Jason Schneider 46-yard reception (for TD) from Sumner, at Southeastern Louisiana, 9-8-12
• Tyrel Kool 41-yard reception from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Kool 50-yard reception (for TD) from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Aaron Rollin 46-yard reception from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Rollin 49-yard reception (for TD) from Sumner, vs. Youngstown State, 10-27-12
• Kool 41-yard reception from Sumner, at Southern Illinois, 11-3-12
Kickoff Returns (2)
• Trevor Tiefenthaler, 46-yard return, at Southeastern Louisiana, 9-8-12
• Tyrel Kool, 100-yard return (for TD), vs. Western Illinois, 10-13-12
Conversely, the Jackrabbit defense has given up only four plays of 40 or more yards this season - two of which came in the Sept. 1 season opener at Kansas. The first was a 43-yard pass from Dayne Crist to Kale Pick on the opening play of the game, followed by a 47-yard run by Tony Pierson.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The Jackrabbit football team received valuable contributions from brothers Winston and Dom Wright during the 2011 season.
Natives of Lee's Summit, Mo., and Blue Springs South High School, both joined the SDSU football program in the fall of 2010. A junior, Winston Wright started all 11 games at cornerback last season en route to earning second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors. He led the team with three interceptions to go along with 57 tackles. He began his colllegiate career at Missouri, redshirting during the 2009 season.
Dom Wright is a sophomore wide receiver who saw most of his action as a kick and punt returner. In nine games last season, he averaged 15.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns to rank second on the squad. This season, he has returned six punts for 50 yards (8.3 yards per return), including a career-long 39-yard return Sept. 8 at Southeastern Louisiana.
COACH STIG: John Stiegelmeier has built the South Dakota State University football team into a consistent winner in the ranks of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
Overall, Coach Stig has led the Jackrabbits to a 101-75 record (.574 winning percentage). SDSU has posted nine winning seasons in the last 11 years, including seven of the school's nine campaigns at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level. The Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 12 of Stiegelmeier's 16 years as head coach, and have a 27-13 record (.675 winning percentage) in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
Stiegelmeier, 55, is the 20th head coach for the Jackrabbits. His tenure of 16 years as head coach is the second-longest head coaching stint in school history.
LAST-MINUTE WINS: South Dakota State's come-from-behind, 16-12 victory at Southern Illinois on Nov. 3 was the latest in a number of Jackrabbit victories attained in the final minute of regulation during John Stiegelmeier's tenure as head coach.
Following is a full listing of last-minute wins since 1997:
• Oct. 11, 1997: SDSU 20, St. Cloud State 16 (H) - Brock Beran catches a 47-yard hail mary pass from Noel Bouché with eight seconds remaining to give the Jackrabbits a Hobo Day victory.
• Sept. 18, 1999: SDSU 38, Augustana 31 (H) - Casey Hillman returns an interception 53 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds left in regulation to lift Jackrabbits in North Central Conference opener.
• Oct. 2, 1999: SDSU 34, Morningside 28 (H) - Andy Rennerfeldt finds Greg Niederauer in the end zone from 28 yards out as Jackrabbits spoil Morningside's upset bid with 18 seconds to go.
• Oct. 9, 1999: SDSU 34, Minnesota State, Mankato 28 (A) - Jackrabbits win in the final minute for the second week in a row as Rennerfeldt scores on a 13-yard run with 53 seconds remaining.
• Sept. 16, 2000: SDSU 25, Augustana 24 (A) - Josh Ranek scores on a 4-yard touchdown run and adds the two-point conversion with 46 seconds remaining as SDSU completes comeback after trailing 24-0 at halftime at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls
• Oct. 9, 2004: SDSU 24, North Dakota State 21 (H) - Chris Molitor scores on a 22-yard pass from Brad Nelson with 39 seconds left in the game as the Jackrabbits win the inaugural Dakota Marker Game.
• Sept. 30, 2006: SDSU 20, McNeese State (La.) 17 (A) - Parker Douglass connects on a 46-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining in regulation as SDSU outscores McNeese 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
• Sept. 27, 2008: SDSU 50, Stephen F. Austin (Texas) 48 (A) - Kyle Minett scores from a yard out on the final play of the game to cap a wild Jackrabbit comeback. SDSU trailed 34-6 midway thorugh the third quarter before beginning its fierce comeback.
Two others came close by mere seconds:
• Oct. 20, 2006: SDSU 29, Cal Poly 28 (A) - Andy Kardoes hooks up with JaRon Harris on three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, then Kardoes scores the decisive two-point conversion with 1:05 to play. SDSU outscores Cal Poly 23-0 in the fourth quarter en route to the victory.
• Oct. 27, 2006: SDSU 22, UC Davis 21 (H) - For the second straight week, the Jackrabbits record a one-point victory thanks to a 9-yard touchdown pass from Kardoes to Dusty Snyders with 1:08 remaining in the Hobo Day game.
WORKING OVERTIME: SDSU's 43-36 double-overtime victory at Missouri State last season ended a four-game losing streak in overtime games for the Jackrabbits.
Overall, SDSU is 2-4 in overtime games, with both home contests played on Hobo Day. The Jackrabbits won their inaugural overtime game, 30-27 in two overtimes against Nebraska-Omaha in the 1998 Hobo Day game, then dropped a 46-44, triple-overtime decision to McNeese State (La.) in the 2008 Hobo Day game.
Following is a complete list of SDSU's overtime games:
1998: SDSU 30, Nebraska-Omaha 27 (2 OT - at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
2002: Augustana 39, SDSU 33 (3 OT - at Sioux Falls)
2004: Southern Utah 23, SDSU 17 (2 OT - at Cedar City, Utah)
2007: Western Illinois 29, SDSU 26 (4 OT - at Macomb, Ill.)
2008: McNeese State 46, SDSU 44 (3 OT - at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
2011: SDSU 43, Missouri State 36 (2 OT - at Springfield, Mo.)
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2012 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 10:30 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based KTTW FOX 7. The show is also broadcast on FOX Sports North at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and on FOX College Sports Central at select times (check listings). Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
A LOOK AHEAD: Should the Jackrabbits win Saturday, they will travel to North Dakota State for a rematch against the top-ranked Bison on Dec. 1. Game time is set for 3 p.m. at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.