Rivalry aside, Jacks look to 8th win, playoff spotThe Jackrabbits (7-3, 5-2 MVFC) are coming off a 20-17 loss in Fargo to top-ranked North Dakota State, but are still in the playoff hunt.
By: Dirk Lammers, The Associated Press
BROOKINGS (AP) — Most of the 15,000 or so fans who will be heading to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium have been waiting nearly a decade to see a football game between archrivals South Dakota and South Dakota State.
The SDSU Jackrabbits have their sights set on a bigger prize — an eighth win and a shot at the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
"The rivalry is not the only part of the deal," SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeir said. "It's a chance to be in the playoffs and play some more football, so that's been the emphasis."
The 123-year-old rivalry that predates South Dakota's entry into statehood went on hiatus in 2003 when SDSU moved up to Division I. The USD Coyotes have since followed suit and joined the Jackrabbits in the Missouri Valley Football Conference this season.
The Jackrabbits (7-3, 5-2 MVFC) are coming off a 20-17 loss in Fargo to top-ranked North Dakota State, but are still in the playoff hunt.
The Coyotes (1-9, 0-7 MVFC) are on an eight-game losing streak after last weekend's 24-21 home loss to Northern Iowa. Saturday's matchup offers a chance to play spoiler and go into the 2013 offseason on a positive note.
"There's no quit in this team and I'm very proud of the way they've played," USD head coach Joe Glenn said. "The scoreboard hasn't reflected how much heart they have and how hard they try."
USD will be facing its fifth nationally ranked opponent this season with a young defense that has struggled to stop the run. Glenn said the defense is improving, but they'll be facing Zach Zenner, the Missouri Valley Football Conference's top back.
Zenner, sophomore from Eagan, Minn., leads the conference in rushing with 1,539 yards, an average of 6.9 yards per carry. He's broken the conference's two longest runs of the season, a 99-yarder against Kansas on Sept. 1 and an 88-yarder against Missouri State on Sept. 29.
"We know we've got our hands full, but we're excited about the challenge," Glenn said.
USD will counter with its mobile quarterback, sophomore Josh Vander Maten. He is fifth in the conference in total offense with 1,928 yards — 485 on the ground and 1,443 in the air.
"When you've got everybody covered and you think you've got him in the pocket, the guy breaks the pocket and has the ability to run with the football," Glenn said. "It's tough to defend."
Stiegelmeir said his players were disappointed in their loss to the Bison and at times in the way they played. But he reminds them that they battled the top-ranked FCS team and it's time to focus on the Coyotes.
"It's always good medicine in football," he said. "You've got to get back to work or you risk losing."