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Dakota Marker game arrives early for NDSU, SDSU

BROOKINGS (AP) — The annual Dakota Marker game between North Dakota State and South Dakota State typically shows up on the October or November schedule with conference titles and playoff berths on the line.

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This year’s battle arrives early and the timing couldn’t be better for South Dakota State (3-1) after the Jackrabbits’ 59-20 loss last week to Nebraska. Kickoff is slated for 2:05 p.m. and the game will be televised on Midco Sports Net.

“For us, it’s great medicine right now because we got our tails whipped at Nebraska,” said South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier. “But we can’t dwell on that with the No. 1 team in America coming to town.”

The top-ranked Bison (3-0) are coming off a 51-0 win over Delaware State during a whirlwind week dominated by a visit from ESPN’s College GameDay. The two-time defending FCS champion Bison have won 13 straight on the road, but North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said leaving Coughlin-Alumni Stadium with a W is always a “tough task.”

The sixth-ranked Jackrabbits are on a nine-game home winning streak, with the last loss coming to the Bison in October 2011.

“Our guys are going to need to be ready to handle adversity,” said Bohl, who became North Dakota State’s all-time winningest coach with his 92nd career victory last Saturday. “Their fans are rowdy and they draw well, so we’ll need to be ready to control the things we can control to play well.”

North Dakota State leads the Dakota Marker series 5-4, holding on to the traveling trophy for the past four years. The Bison edged South Dakota State 20-17 in Fargo on Nov. 10, 2012, then beat the Jackrabbits again three weeks later in the second round of the FCS playoffs 28-3.

Stiegelmeier said for the Jackrabbits to have a chance in the teams’ Missouri Valley Football Conference opener, they’ll need to stop the run and limit mistakes.

“You need to be patient and not make mistakes, because they are very, very good,” Stiegelmeier said. “They’re very fast. You can’t get them out of position.”