South Dakota State football primer: Top-ranked Jackrabbits welcome Indiana State for annual Hobo Day game

SDSU is unbeaten in its last seven meetings wth the Sycamores and will be playing in Brookings as the No. 1 team in the FCS polls for the first time in program history.

South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski prepares to throw a pass intended for receiver Jadon Janke (foreground) during a Missouri Valley Football Conference contest on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Dykhouse Stadium, in Brookings.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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BROOKINGS — After back-to-back rivalry wins in North Dakota, the South Dakota State football team returns to Brookings, where the Jackrabbits will sport the FCS No. 1 ranking in front of their home fans for the first time in program history against Indiana State during the annual Hobo Day homecoming game. Here’s what to know ahead of the contest:

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Dykhouse Stadium, Brookings.

Records: SDSU 7-1 overall, 5-0 Missouri Valley; ISU 1-6, 0-4 Missouri Valley.

Coaches: SDSU: John Stiegelmeier, 26th season, 192-112; ISU: Curt Mallory, sixth season, 18-34.


Last meeting: The Jackrabbits and Sycamores opened the MVFC slate against one another last season on Sept. 25, 2021. SDSU shut out ISU, claiming a 44-0 win in Terre Haute.

Series history: SDSU and ISU have played 11 times since the Jackrabbits joined the MVFC in 2008. Seven straight meetings have gone to the Jacks, giving them a 9-2 advantage in the series. The last time the Sycamore visited Brookings, the Jackrabbits escaped an upset bid with a 54-51 overtime win on Oct. 6, 2018.

Last week: For the second straight week, SDSU fell behind early but recovered in the second half, notching a 49-35 win over North Dakota, in Grand Forks. ISU fell at home to Illinois State, 27-21.


  • For the second-straight week, SDSU received 51 of 54 first-place votes in the Stats Perform FCS poll to maintain its place at No. 1.
  • Televised coverage will be available through Midco Sports or ESPN+.

About the Jackrabbits:

  • In last year's matchup, SDSU gained 224 yards on the ground at an average of 6.6 yards per carry. Amar Johnson (who will likely start on Saturday if Isaiah Davis is held out of a second-straight game due to injury) provided the lone Jackrabbit rushing touchdown against the Sycamores in that contest and has 160 yards and two touchdowns on only 26 attempts over the past two weeks.
  • Tucker Kraft, Jaxon Janke and Jadon Janke all caught touchdowns against ISU last season and are coming off a week in with Kraft and Jaxon scored against UND, while Jadon led the team in receiving with five receptions for 86 yards.
  • Though SDSU's most recent shutout victory came against Indiana State on the road last season, the last time the Jackrabbits held an opponent scoreless in Brookings was back on Nov. 9, 2013, also against ISU. The Jacks have scored at least 42 points in each of the past three meetings and have not failed to score at least 24 points in any of the 11 matchups all time.
  • Saturday will be the 108th installment of the Hobo Day homecoming game since its inception in 1912. SDSU's all-time record on Hobo Day is 62-40-5, though that mark is 5-5 over the past 10 editions with the three most recent losses coming to Northern Iowa (2015, 2017 and 2021).

About the Sycamores:

  • What ISU's record doesn't show is how competitive the Sycamores have been against MVFC foes. ISU is 0-4 within the conference, but all four games were decided by six points or fewer. This includes an Oct. 8 meeting with then-No. 1 North Dakota State in which ISU led for nearly 38 minutes in a 31-26 defeat and a 20-point comeback bid that fell short last week against an Illinois State team receiving votes in the polls. The other two losses are to Northern Iowa (20-14) and Youngstown State (48-42).
  • Receiver Dante Hendrix and running back Justin Dinka have been bright spots for the Sycamores offense this season. Hendrix leads the MVFC at 91.5 receiving yards per game and has season totals of 32 receptions for 549 yards and three touchdowns. Of those, seven catches, 109 yards and two scores came against NDSU. Meanwhile, Dinka's 637 rushing yards (with a 6.8 yards per carry average) rank third in the conference. He has a pair of 150-plus-yard efforts this season and owns the longest run of any MVFC back this season with an 82-yard touchdown, also against NDSU.
  • On defense, the Sycamores give up 35 points and nearly 420 yards of offense per game but have two of the top seven tacklers in the conference in linebacker Geoffrey Brown (63) and defensive back Rylan Cole (59). ISU's defense excels most against the pass, giving up 237.1 yards through the air per game, which ranks sixth in the conference. Defensive backs Johnathan Edwards and Maddix Blackwell have seven and six passes defended, respectively, this season, both of which are top-five marks in the MVFC.

Next week: In its final road trip of the regular season, SDSU travels to take on Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, while ISU is back home in Terre Haute to host North Dakota. Both games are on Nov. 5.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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