South Dakota Preview: Coyotes at Bowling Green
For the tenth time in the last eight seasons, the University of South Dakota football is getting ready to take the field against a FBS opponent.
But this time, the Coyotes have a realistic chance of winning.
Yes, USD did shock the world with its 41-38 win at Minnesota in 2010, but no one gave the Coyotes much of a shot that day in Minneapolis.
But South Dakota is expected to be very competitive when they take on Bowling Green of the MAC, Saturday night (September 9) in Ohio. So competitive in fact that Hero Sports included the game on its pre-season list of 'Ten Potential FCS Upsets of FBS teams in 2017'.
A lot of that has to do with the Falcons, who got off to a 1-8 start a year ago under new head coach Mike Jinks, before winning their final three games of the season.
BGU is trying to replace two of their top players from 2016: 1,000 yard rusher Fred Coppet, as well as linebacker Trenton Greene, who led the team with 111 tackles last year.
Falcons sophomore quarterback James Morgan threw for more than 2,000 yards last season, but had nearly as many interceptions (15) as touchdowns (16). His maturity in year two will be a big key for this offense.
His favorite target is all-conference wide receiver Scott Miller, who caught 74 passes for 968 yards and half of BGU's touchdown passes (10) in 2016.
Three different running backs operate behind a veteran offensive line.
Defensively, the Falcons best player is all-conference safety Jamari Bozeman, who had 71 tackles and three interceptions last season.
Bowling Green lost 35-10 in week one at Michigan State. The Falcons had a 3-0 lead after the first quarter before giving up 31 unanswered points in the second and third quarters. The BGU offense really struggled on third down, converting just twice in 13 tries.
Kickoff is 5:00 PM, Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.
South Dakota's offense had no such trouble in their opener at Drake.
The Coyotes scored touchdowns on eight of their nine first half possessions in Des Moines, opening a commanding 56-7 lead at intermission, en route to a 77-7 win.
Quarterback Chris Streveler had a first half for the ages - throwing for 244 yards and five scores, while also running for a touchdown. That performance earned him the Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor.
Freshman running back Kai Henry began his collegiate career with 12 carries for 75 yards and a score, while five different receivers caught touchdown passes.
Defensively, sophomore lineman Darin Greenfield had three sacks, while redshirt freshman defensive back Phillip Powell had a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six. Another redshirt freshman, Mark Collins, also picked off a pass.
Overall, the Coyote defense limited the Bulldogs to -7 yards rushing.
I talked with Coyote head coach Bob Nielson about the big win and matchup with Bowling Green: