Jackrabbits prepare for Showdown at USD
State bragging rights will be on the line Saturday as South Dakota State travels to South Dakota for a key Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. The game is part of the South Dakota Showdown Series, which is presented by South Dakota Corn.
The 19th-ranked Jackrabbits, who have won their last two games, enter the contest 6-4 overall and 3-3 in league play. In its last outing, Nov. 9 against Indiana State, SDSU recorded a 29-0 shutout victory.
South Dakota, meanwhile, enters the week with a 4-6 overall record and 3-3 mark in the MVFC. The Coyotes will be playing their third consecutive home game against a ranked opponent, following narrow losses in the final minutes to both Youngstown State (34-38 ) and Montana (27-31).
FOUR-DOWN TERRITORY: Four quick notes on the Jackrabbits:
• SDSU is plus-14 in turnover margin this season to rank second in the FCS, forcing nine lost fumbles and intercepting 16 passes;
• In league games, the Jackrabbits are the least-penalized team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, committing only 18 penalties for 182 yards in six contests;
• With a win Saturday, SDSU would secure its second consecutive winning season and eighth in 10 seasons competing within the Football Championship Subdivision.
• Junior quarterback Austin Sumner, already the SDSU career leader in passing yards, crossed the 7,000-yard mark last week against Indiana State and enters the week with 7,108 yards and three of the top-10 single-season passing totals in program history;
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game marks the 106th meeting between South Dakota and South Dakota State in a series that dates back to 1889. The first meeting between the two programs ended in a 6-6 tie, and USD has gone on to lead the series by a 50-49-6 count.
Until resuming the rivalry in 2012, SDSU and USD had not played since 2003, after which the Jackrabbits moved to Division I. South Dakota joined the Division I ranks a few years later, taking the Jackrabbits’ place in the Great West Football Conference before joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2012.
MEDIA 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 and high-definition video streaming of select home events are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for a year of coverage.
Local radio coverage Saturday begins at noon 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
• KJOE 106.1 FM-Pipestone, Minn.
• KORN 1490 AM-Mitchell
• KOLY 1300 AM-Mobridge
• KGFX 1060 AM-Pierre
• KDSJ 980 AM-Deadwood
• KSDR 1480 AM-Watertown
CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four captains:
• Brandon Hubert, Sr., wide receiver, Gretna, Neb.;
• Austin Sumner, Jr., quarterback, Brandon, S.D.;
• Winston Wright, Sr., defensive back, Lee’s Summit, Mo.;
• Zach Zenner, Jr., running back, Eagan, Minn.
The Jackrabbits broke from tradition last season by naming non-senior players as captains. Previously, all team captains were selected from the senior class. Sumner and Wright are two-year captains.
RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State University football team entered the 2013 season with its highest national ranking as a member of the Football Championship Subdivison by holding down the sixth spot in The Sports Network Preseason Top 25.
SDSU, coached by John Stiegelmeier, also was ranked seventh in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll. The Jackrabbits also were ranked fourth by Lindy’s College Football, ninth by College Sporting News and 10th by Athlon College Football.
Despite losing four of their last seven games, the Jackrabbits have remained in both national polls throughout the season. This week, SDSU is ranked 19th in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches’ poll, moving up one spot in the coaches’ poll.
The Jackrabbits return 15 starters to a squad that advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs. SDSU’s previous high national ranking in either of the most-recognized polls was a ninth-place showing in 2010 preseason polls by both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches, following the Jackrabbits’ inaugural berth in the FCS playoffs in 2009.
Two-time defending national champion and Missouri Valley Football Conference rival North Dakota State held on to the top spot in both polls this week.
SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA: The University of South Dakota football has made strides during the 2013 season under the direction of second-year head coach Joe Glenn.
Following a 2012 campaign in which they won only once and went winless in Missouri Valley Football Conference play, the Coyotes have held their own against some of the top teams in the Football Championship Subdivision.
USD has been a streaky team, sandwiching a three-game winning streak against MVFC opponents between a pair of three-game losing streaks. The current losing streak has included narrow losses the last two weeks to nationally ranked Youngstown State (34-38) and Montana (27-31).
A change at quarterback has paid dividends as sophomore Kevin Earl has started the last six games. Earl has thrown for 1,494 yards and eight touchdowns. Terrance Terry leads Coyote receivers with 42 receptions for 365 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman Riley Donovan has emerged as a top-line pass-catcher with 29 receptions for 491 yards and a pair of scores.
Previous starting quarterback Josh Vander Maten has caught 15 passes for 177 yards and a pair of scores since moving to wide receiver.
Trevor Bouma has been a dual threat out of the backfield, gaining 766 yards on the ground and adding 27 receptions for 169 yards.
The Coyote defense has been paced by Buck Buchanan Award nominee Tyler Starr. A linebacker, Starr has posted 59 total tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Devin Taverna leads an experienced secondary with 65 tackles and has added a pair of interceptions. Dyllon Knox has recorded a team-best three interceptions.
Freshman Miles Bergner has handled both the punting and kicking duties for the Coyotes. He is averaging 40.8 yards per punt and has made 10-of-18 field goal attempts en route to a team-best 51 points.
LAST MEETING: South Dakota State scored three first-quarter touchdowns as the 21st-ranked Jackrabbits marked the resumption of their in-state rivalry with the University of South Dakota by registering a 31-8 victory before a crowd of 15,278 Nov. 17, 2012, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits improved to 8-3 overall and finished alone in second place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 6-2 mark. USD ended its season 1-10 overall and 0-9 in league play. The game marked the first meeting between the in-state rivals since 2003.
SUMNER SETS RECORDS: Jackrabbit quarterback Austin Sumner has rewritten the Jackrabbit record book in a number of career categories during the 2013 season.
A junior, Sumner has vaulted in the top spot for career passing yards with 7,108 entering play Saturday. With a 276-yard performance Oct. 5 against Southern Illinois, Sumner moved past both Ted Wahl (6,016 yards from 1985-88) and Ryan Berry (6,023 yards from 2005-08) for the all-time lead. Sumner began the season in eighth place for career passing yards and has totaled 2,283 yards — 10th on SDSU’s single-season charts — through 10 games this season. He now holds three of the top 10 single-season passing totals in program history.
Sumner’s 988 career pass attempts have surpassed the previous record of 834 set by Berry, and his 570 completions also have passed Berry’s previous career mark of 514.
Sumner has played in 33 career games and made 30 starts, holding a 19-11 record as the team’s top signal-caller. During his first season, he set a Missouri Valley Football Conference freshman record with 2,382 yards passing en route to being named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award as the top first-year player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Despite playing through injury in 2012, Sumner helped lead the Jackrabbits to an FCS playoff berth with 2,443 passing yards.
The Brandon native recorded his seventh career 300-yard passing game in the 2013 season opener against Butler (Ind.), ending the night 22-of-32 for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
ZENNER ON PAYTON WATCH LIST: South Dakota State University running back Zach Zenner is one of 20 players named to the initial 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List for the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
A junior from Eagan, Minn., Zenner is one of 11 finalists from the 2012 season to appear on the official watch list, which was announced in July. A consensus All-America selection last season, Zenner placed seventh in the balloting after joining the watch list a month into the 2012 campaign.
Zenner led the nation in rushing during the 2012 season, racking up 2,044 yards in 13 games for an average of 157.2 yards per contest. He crossed the 100-yard mark in nine games and topped 200 yards three times, including a school-record 295 yards in the opening round of the FCS playoffs Nov. 24 versus Eastern Illinois.
For the season, Zenner averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, while adding 28 receptions for 197 yards.
Zenner again ranks among the nation’s leaders in rushing, standing third in the Football Championship Subdivision with 1,372 total rushing yards and an average of 137.2 yards per game. His 17 rushing touchdowns rank seventh among FCS players and his 18 total touchdowns (1 receiving) put him in ninth place for scoring with an average of 10.8 points per game. Zenner also ranks sixth in all-purpose yards with an average of 160.5 yards per game as he has added 18 receptions for 233 yards.
He has topped the 100-yard mark in seven games this season, including tying his own school record with 295 yards — on a career-high 37 carries — Sept. 7 at North Dakota, a rushing total that is the most in a single game by an FCS player this season. Zenner was selected as National Offensive Player of the Week by the Sports Network and earned both National Performer of the Week and National Running Back of the Week accolades from College Football Performance Awards. He also was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
For his career, Zenner has crossed the 100-yard barrier 18 times and topped the 200-yard mark five times, including a 21-carry, 202-yard performance Sept. 21 at Nebraska, when he was again named MVFC Offensive Player of the Week. He enters the weekend third in career rushing at South Dakota State with 3,886 yards.
Zenner, who has three rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards this season, including a season-long 80-yarder Oct. 12 at Western Illinois, has had a penchant for long runs. His 13 rushing touchdowns in 2012 covered an average of 42.8 yards, including a school-record 99-yarder at Kansas in the season opener. So far in 2013, Zenner has averaged 19.3 yards on his 16 touchdown runs.
The Walter Payton Award will be presented by The Sports Network on Dec. 16.
LALLY LEADS LINEBACKERS: For the second year in a row, the South Dakota State University football team had a player under consideration for the Jerry Rice Award, which is presented to the top freshman player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Linebacker T.J. Lally was named one of 20 finalists for the 2012 Jerry Rice Award following a stellar season in which he ranked second on the team with 107 tackles, shared the team lead with six sacks and ranked fourth with eight tackles for loss. Lally started all 13 games at middle linebacker and registered double figures for tackles in five games, including a career-high 11 in a playoff loss at North Dakota State
A member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team in 2012, Lally was one of three league players to be named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award. Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen and Western Illinois linebacker J.J. Raffelson also were considered for the award.
Lally was credited with a season-high 10 tackles in the Sept. 14 win over Southeastern Louisiana, recording double figures in stops for the sixth time in his career. The previous week, in a road win at North Dakota, Lally was credited with five tackles. He also tipped a pass that resulted in a game-ending interception late in the fourth quarter.
KILGORE WAS HERE: Senior linebacker R.C. Kilgore set a new career high for tackles in three consecutive weeks to take over the team lead in tackles.
A native of Cottage Grove, Minn., Kilgore was credited with 10 tackles in the Sept. 14 Beef Bowl victory over Southeastern Louisiana, then registered 15 tackles Sept. 21 at Nebraska. He followed those performances with 17 tackles Sept 28. against North Dakota State. Kilgore reached double figures in tackles for the sixth time this season with 15 Oct. 26 against Northern Iowa and comes into Saturday’s game with a team-best 105 tackles. His average of 10.5 tackles per game ranks 10th among Football Championship Subdivision players.
Kilgore also holds the team lead with five takeaways this season. He recovered a pair of fumbles Sept. 21 at Nebraska and notched his fourth fumble recovery of the season Oct. 19 at Missouri State. He also recorded his first career interception Sept. 7 at North Dakota.
SYROVATKA STREAKS END: South Dakota State kicker Justin Syrovatka had his school-record streak of 15 consecutive made field goals end when he missed a 32-yard attempt in the third quarter of the Sept. 21 game at Nebraska.
A junior from Sioux Falls, Syrovatka extended his new Jackrabbit standard to 15 by tying his career long with a 48-yarder in the first quarter at Nebraska. Following his miss, Syrovatka connected on a 29-yard field goal to cap the SDSU scoring in the fourth quarter.
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’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.
Syrovatka’s last miss prior to the Nebraska game also came on a 32-yard attempt Sept. 29, 2012, versus Missouri State. He ended the 2012 season 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) on field goals and is 34-for-48 (68.9 percent) for his career.
He also had a streak of 47 consecutively made PATs end Nov. 9 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 90-of-92 on PATs.
SCHNEIDER STEPS UP: After graduating its top two receivers from a year ago, South Dakota State had some question as to who would be the go-to players in the passing game. Junior Jason Schneider emerged as an early candidate in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler (Ind.), recording career highs with 10 receptions and 167 receiving yards, along with two touchdowns.
A native of Andover, Minn., Schneider’s yardage total was the most since Dale Moss racked up 178 yards in a 2011 game at Missouri State. The last Jackrabbit receiver to notch double figures for receptions in a game was Tyrel Kool with 10 in a 2010 contest at Northern Iowa.
Schneider has been the leading receiver in terms of catches in six of the Jackrabbits’ 10 games this season, including a seven-catch, 110-yard performance Nov. 9 against Indiana State. For the year, Schneider leads the team with 59 receptions for 838 yards and seven touchdowns. He is leading the Missouri Valley Football Conference in both receptions (5.9 per game) and receiving yards (83.8 yards per game).
Schneider has moved into 10th place on the both the Jackrabbit single-season receptions and receiving yards charts. He is 162 yards away from becoming the first Jackrabbit receiver to record 1,000 yards in a season during the Division I era and the first to reach the milestone since current assistant coach Josh Davis compiled 1,028 yards in 2003.
HUBERT TO THE TOP 10s: Senior wide receiver Brandon Hubert moved into the Jackrabbit career top 10 for receptions last month and gained a spot in the SDSU top 10 for receiving yards last week.
A team captain from Gretna, Neb., Hubert enters the weekend with 131 career receptions, good for eighth place on the Jackrabbit all-time charts. Hubert also has tallied 1,704 receiving yards, putting him in 10th place all-time at SDSU. He has caught a pass in 42 of 45 career games.
Earlier this season, Hubert was named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually by the National Football Foundation to the top scholar-athlete in college football. Besides being a key member of the Jackrabbit football team, Hubert has excelled in the classroom, compiling a 3.70 grade-point average while majoring in pharmacy.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Three true freshman made their collegiate debuts for the Jackrabbits in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler. Linebacker Jesse Bobbit made three tackles, while defensive lineman Cole Langer was credited with one tackle. Long snapper Thayer Trenhaile also saw action versus Butler.
LIMITING MISTAKES: After being flagged for 10 penalties for 103 yards in the Aug. 31 season opener against Butler (Ind.), the Jackrabbit football team has been among the best in the Football Championship Subdivision in limiting mistakes.
In the nine games since the opener, SDSU has committed a total of 30 penalties for 285 yards. The Jackrabbits enter the week ranked fourth among FCS programs for fewest penalties with an average of four per game, while their 38.8 penalty yards per game rank 12th. SDSU set a season low with 15 penalty yards in a double-overtime win over Northern Iowa on Oct. 26, while matching a season low with only two penalties.
In addition, SDSU stands second in the FCS ranks for turnover margin at plus-14 (+1.4 per game). The Jackrabbits have turned the ball over only 11 times this season, while forcing 25 takeaways. SDSU has forced at least one turnover in all 10 games so far in 2013.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The Jackrabbit football team has received valuable contributions from brothers Winston and Dom Wright over the past two seasons.
Natives of Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Blue Springs South High School, both joined the SDSU football program in the fall of 2010. A senior, Winston Wright has started all 34 games at cornerback since the start of the 2011 campaign, earning second-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors in 2011. He led the team with three interceptions to go along with 57 tackles in 2011, followed by a 59-tackle, one-interception season in 2012. He began his colllegiate career at Missouri, redshirting during the 2009 season.
Dom Wright is a junior wide receiver who has seen most of his action as a kick returner. Last season, he averaged 20.6 yards on 10 kickoff returns and added a 39-yard punt return in limited action.
GOOD WORKS TEAM: South Dakota State University cornerback Winston Wright is one of 22 college football players from across the country named to the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
A senior from Lee’s Summit, Mo., Wright has organized or participated in numerous service activities, including leading two groups of SDSU students to Harmons, Jamaica, and assisting in the building of six homes.
Wright also has participated in shoe donations and sports camps on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Samaritan’s Feet, along with mentoring children and speaking at local schools and churches about making positive decisions.
Wright, who is a three-year starter and two-year captain for the Jackrabbits, is the first SDSU player to be named to the Good Works Team. A record 150 football student-athletes were nominated for this year’s squad.
The 22-player team is made up of 11 players from the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, with the other 11 players from Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA institutions.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote for the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain through ESPN.com. All award recipients will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a community project leading up to the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
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 108-80 record (.574 winning percentage). SDSU has posted seven winning seasons in the school’s nine full seasons at the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level, compiling a 64-46 record since moving to the FCS ranks in 2004. Overall, the Jackrabbits have had a winning record in 12 of Stiegelmeier’s 16 full years as head coach, and have a 30-16 record in Missouri Valley Football Conference games. SDSU has reached the FCS playoffs twice (2009, 2012) under Stiegelmeier’s guidance.
NEW STADIUM ON HORIZON: South Dakota State University officials announced on Oct. 5 lead gifts totaling $12.5 million from Sioux Falls banker Dana Dykhouse and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford toward the construction of a new football stadium.
The announcement was made in conjunction with the 100th Hobo Day game at SDSU.
The proposed stadium, which would have a seating capacity of 18,500 to 20,000, would replace Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which has served as the home of Jackrabbit football since 1962. The new stadium would be built on the current Coughlin-Alumni Stadium site, with completion scheduled for the summer of 2016.
In recent years SDSU has regularly drawn crowds well above the capacity of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which has permanent seating totaling about 11,000. The stadium attendance record of 16,498 was set Sept. 28, when the Jackrabbits hosted North Dakota State.
University officials will present a facility program plan for the estimated $60 million project to the South Dakota Board of Regents in December and, pending BOR approval, will seek authority from the South Dakota Legislature in the spring. Construction would be done in phases, with the east and south sides of the stadium scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015 and the west side finished the following year.
Plans call for the stadium to be funded through private gifts and long-term revenue streams, including concessions and suite, loge box and ticket sales. The intention is to secure bonds to finance up to two-thirds of the project’s construction with bonds, with the remaining third coming from private support.
RARE BYE WEEK: The Jackrabbits had a rare in-season bye week during their membership in the Missouri Valley Conference, taking a week off prior to their Nov. 9 game against Indiana State. Since joining the league in 2008, SDSU is 2-1 in games following a mid-season bye week. In 2008, the Jackrabbits lost a 42-28 home decision to Cal Poly. Last year, SDSU recorded a 31-10 home win over Western Illinois (Oct. 13, 2012).
WORKING OVERTIME: SDSU’s 37-34 double-overtime victory over Northern Iowa on Oct. 26 upped the Jackrabbits’ record in overtime games to 2-0 against Missouri Valley Football Conference opponents. SDSU also defeated Missouri State in a double-overtime game, 43-36, in 2011.
Overall, SDSU is 3-4 in games decided in overtime since the format was adopted in the mid-1990s. The Jackrabbits won their inaugural overtime game, 30-27 in two overtimes against Nebraska-Omaha in the 1998 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.)
2013: SDSU 37, Northern Iowa 34 (2 OT — at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium)
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2013 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 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 2013 football season.
The show is scheduled to air at 5 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 subscription service.
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.
ACADEMIC AWARD: The South Dakota State football team was presented with the Missouri Valley Football Conference Team Academic Award during the Sept. 14 game against Southeastern Louisiana. The Jackrabbits, who compiled a 3.02 team grade-point average during the 2012-13 academic year, have received the MVFC Team Academic Award each of the five seasons they have competed in the conference
A LOOK AHEAD: SDSU wraps up the regular season Nov. 23 by traveling east to Youngstown State. Game time is 2 p.m. Eastern Time (1 p.m. Central) at Stambaugh Stadium in Youngstown, Ohio.