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USD football primer: Coyotes look to right ship at Illinois State

Everything you need to know ahead of USD's trip to Illinois State

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University of South Dakota players celebrate against South Dakota State on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Dykhouse Stadium, in Brookings.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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VERMILLION — After two games in a row against the top two-ranked teams in the country, University of South Dakota football will try to get on track against Illinois State. Here’s what to know about the game.

Where: Hancock Stadium, Normal, Illinois.

When: 2 p.m. Saturday.

Records: USD 1-4, 0-2 MVFC; Illinois State 3-2, 1-1 MVFC.

Coaches: USD’s Bob Nielson, 30th season (seventh at USD), 216-118-1 (30-38 at USD); Illinois State’s Brock Spack, 14th season, 92-62.

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Last week: USD lost 28-3 to South Dakota State; Illinois State won 23-21 over Northern Iowa.

All-time series: Illinois State leads 7-2.

Last meeting: Illinois State won 20-14 on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2021 in Vermillion.

Saturday's game marks the second time in FCS history that the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the country meet during the regular season

Notes: The game will air on ESPN3. … The Redbirds rank No. 15 in the country in third-down conversion percentage at 48.7%. USD ranks 112th out 123 teams at 27.5%. Defensively, USD allows its opponents to convert on 43.7% of their third-down chances which is 82nd in the country. … Last time the two teams played, Jarrell Jackson intercepted a pass for Illinois State with under 2 minutes left to secure the win over then-No. 15 USD.

About the Coyotes: In its first four Football Championship Subdivision games this season, USD has played the three teams currently holding the top three spots in the FCS Stats Perform Top 25. On top of that, Kansas State, who the Coyotes opened up the season against, is currently No. 17 in the AP Poll. … USD is tied with Central Connecticut State with the 112th best scoring offense in FCS at 13 points per game. … Travis Theis is 51st in the country in rushing yards with 370 and had 73 on 13 carries against South Dakota State in a game where the Coyotes accumulated 136 total yards. … Quarterback Carson Camp is a native of Bloomington, Illinois, roughly 10 minutes from Normal. Camp has thrown for 777 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions this season through five games. Against SDSU, he threw for 44 yards with two interceptions without a touchdown. … Myles Harden leads the country with four forced fumbles in five games.

About the Redbirds: Illinois State has a few Power 5 transfers, including starting quarterback Zack Annexstad, who transferred from Minnesota, has thrown for 1,094 yards and seven touchdowns on 62.3% completion percentage. … His brother, Brock Annexstad also transferred from Minnesota and has eight catches for 125 yards. … Zeke Vandenburgh has been named the MVFC defensive player of the week three times this season, and he leads the MVFC in tackles per game at 10.4. … Illinois State ranks 101st in the country with 100.8 rushing yards per game.

Next: USD heads back home to host No. 16 Southern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 22, while Illinois State goes on the road to square off against Indiana State on Oct. 22.

With both teams at 5-1 overall and 3-0 in Missouri Valley Football Conference action, No. 2 SDSU and No. 1 NDSU meet once again for the Dakota Marker

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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