Opponent Preview: South Dakota State
Lincoln - The Nebraska football team hosts South Dakota State on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. inside Memorial Stadium and Huskers.com gives fans a glimpse at Saturday's opponent.
The Huskers (2-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, while South Dakota State is undefeated at 3-0 and ranked No. 6 in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Although SDSU hails from the FCS and Nebraska from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the Huskers know not to take the Jackrabbits lightly. The teams met just three years ago on Sept. 25, 2010, and the sixth-ranked and unbeaten Huskers got all they could handle from a winless South Dakota State squad that made Nebraska work for four quarters in a 17-3 Husker victory.
FCS teams have enjoyed success against FBS foes this fall. In the opening weekend of the 2013 season, eight teams from the FCS division defeated an FBS opponent, including two victories over Big 12 Conference teams by lower-division opponents and Eastern Washington’s upset of a ranked Oregon State squad.
Scouting South Dakota State
South Dakota State is ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) coaches’ poll this week following a 3-0 start to its season. The Jackrabbits opened their season with a 55-14 win over Butler, before hanging on for a 35-28 win at North Dakota in week two. Last Saturday, SDSU came from behind to defeat Southeastern Louisiana, 34-26.
South Dakota State features a strong offense, led by a potent rushing attack. The Jacks are averaging 41.3 points per game, 214.7 rushing yards per contest and 234.0 passing yards. Zach Zenner has carried the ball 70 times for 540 yards and eight touchdowns. His 540 rushing yards and 180.0 rushing yards per game averages lead all FBS and FCS players nationally. Quarterback Austin Sumner has been efficient under center, completing 59 percent of his passes for 670 yards. He has added five touchdown passes without an interception, as SDSU has only one turnover this season.
Defensively, South Dakota State is allowing 412.0 yards and 22.7 points per game. The Jackrabbits have been stingy against the run, allowing an average of only 100.3 rushing yards per game and just 3.5 yards per carry. Opponents have had some success through the air against the SDSU defense, completing better than 63 percent of their passes while averaging 311.7 passing yards per game. But the Jackrabbits’ secondary has picked off nine passes and allowed only three passing touchdowns.
Nebraska is 2-0 all-time against South Dakota State, with both wins coming inside Memorial Stadium. The Huskers defeated the Jackrabbits 58-7 on Sept. 21, 1963, and NU earned a 17-3 victory on Sept. 25, 2010.
In the 2010 meeting, Nebraska managed just 345 yards of total offense and was held to a pair of second-quarter touchdowns and a fourth-quarter field goal. Taylor Martinez completed 6-of-14 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Martinez also carried the ball 13 times for 75 yards. Jeremiah Sirles and Brent Qvale are the only other current Huskers who played in the 2010 matchup against SDSU, with Sirles earning the start at left tackle.
South Dakota State Head Coach John Stiegelmeier
John Stiegelmeier is in his 17th season at South Dakota State, where he owns a 105-75 record. Stiegelmeier’s SDSU teams have posted a winning record in 12 of his 16 full seasons, including seven winning seasons in the school’s nine years competing at the FCS level. In 2012, the Jackrabbits tied the school record with nine wins, while advancing to the FCS playoffs for the second time in four years. SDSU ended the 2012 campaign with a No. 14 final ranking, after hosting - and winning - the first playoff game in school history.
The second-longest serving head coach in South Dakota State history, Stiegelmeier is in his 26th year as a full-time coach on the Jackrabbit staff. Prior to taking over the head coaching role in 1997, Stiegelmeier served as SDSU’s defensive coordinator from 1991 to 1996 and as an assistant coach from 1988 to 1990. He also coached at Northern State University from 1984 to 1987 and served as a graduate assistant at both Northern Iowa and Wisconsin. Stiegelmeier was also the head coach at Eau Claire (Wis.) North High School from 1981 to 1984.