South Dakota Preview: #23 Coyotes Host #10 North Dakota
The University of South Dakota home football opener could be dubbed 'back to the future'.
The Coyotes opponent Saturday (September 16) in Vermillion is tenth-ranked North Dakota, longtime foe of USD in both the North Central and Great West Conferences, and, beginning in 2020, future member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
For the time being, the Fighting Hawks (1-1) reside in the Big Sky Conference, where they shared the league title in 2016 and advanced to the FCS Playoffs, where they were knocked off in the opening round by Richmond.
One of the victories that propelled UND to the post season was a 47-44 double overtime win over South Dakota, in a game the Coyotes led 34-14 in the third quarter.
Nine offensive starters from that game are back for the Fighting Hawks, including quarterback Keaton Studsrud, who has completed about 60 percent of his passes this season, and threw for two scores against USD last season.
Studsrud is also a threat to run. He had 13 carries in the 2016 match-up between these two teams.
Behind him is the running tandem of John Santiago and Brady Oliveria. Santiago ran for 140 yards against USD last year. Oliveria is UND's leading rusher this year, averaging close to 90 yards per game.
The North Dakota defense returns six starters from a group that gave USD's passing game trouble last year, picking off a pair of passes for touchdowns.
Last week, the Fighting Hawks shutout another Valley team, Missouri State, who put up 43 points on Missouri in week one.
In two games this season, North Dakota has six sacks and has forced four turnovers.
Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Vermillion.
The Coyotes (2-0) are riding a huge wave of momentum after just their second win over a FBS opponent in school history.
South Dakota jumped out early on Bowling Green and hung on for a 35-27 win in Ohio.
The Coyote offense put the ball in the end zone three times on their first four possessions. The second score, a 72-yard Chris Streveler to Cody Kase touchdown pass, was setup by the USD special teams, which recovered a fumble on a kickoff.
South Dakota's defense didn't allow a first half touchdown, holding the Falcons to three punts, two field goals, an interception, and stop on downs.
But in the second half, up 28-9, the Coyotes committed their only turnover of the day, a muffed punt, and Bowling Green took advantage, scoring 18 points on their next four possessions to pull to within seven with two minutes left.
The USD offense made sure the Falcons didn't touch the ball again, closing out the victory with three snaps.
Streveler finished 19-of-34 for 306 yards and a touchdown thru the air. He also ran for 119 yards and three scores and was named the STATS National Offensive Player of the Week. Coyote tackle Nick Jensen was the Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week.
The USD defense recorded four sacks and held BGU to 6-of-19 on third down.
The win propelled South Dakota into the FCS Top 25. The number-23 ranking is the school's highest since 2011.
I talked with Coyote head coach Bob Nielson about the big win and match-up with North Dakota: