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TRAXLER: A memorable mismatch for the SDSU record books

The outcome of Saturday's college football game in Brookings on Saturday was hardly a surprise. The score? South Dakota State 90, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6. Now, that turned some heads. The social media wildfire soon followed. A number of national sp...

South Dakota State University running back Mikey Daniel leaps over University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Shawn Steele on Sept. 15 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. (Matt Gade / Republic)
South Dakota State University running back Mikey Daniel leaps over University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Shawn Steele on Sept. 15 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The outcome of Saturday's college football game in Brookings on Saturday was hardly a surprise.

The score? South Dakota State 90, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 6.

Now, that turned some heads.

The social media wildfire soon followed. A number of national sports outlets tweeted out the score and watched the reactions roll in. For example, ESPN's college football Twitter account tweeted out the final score with the caption: "An actual score, from an actual college football game." That tweet has generated more than 7,000 reactions alone.

The fallout continued Monday, as the Associated Press picked up on SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier's comments following the victory. In that press conference, Stiegelmeier - the Jackrabbits' coach for 22 years - said he regretted allowing his offense to run wild for a school record 926 yards of total offense and seven passing touchdowns. Specifically, he said the team should have taken out all of its passing plays and slowed the pace of the game.

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The statistics showed SDSU did those things. For example, the Jacks ran 57 plays on offense. Last year, over the course of 14 games, they ran an average of 67.6 plays per game. It was the fewest plays SDSU has ran in a win since a 10-7 victory over Villanova in the 2016 playoffs.

Twenty-one of the plays on Saturday were passes, and 19 went for completions. (In the game, Pine Bluff never pressured the quarterback or broke up a pass.) During their 11-3 season in 2017, the Jackrabbits threw 32.5 passes per game.

That the generally cordial Stiegelmeier apologized for how the game ended was not a surprise but to the 14,526 fans in attendance at the Jackrabbits' annual Beef Bowl game, it was obvious that the two teams weren't in the same class. The Golden Lions didn't look like anything resembling a Division I team and their defense was mostly disinterested in tackling. There were a number of plays - primarily running plays - where the SDSU players broke the first line of the UAPB defense and there was nobody there to stop them. Of those 57 plays, 24 of SDSU's offensive snaps went for gains of 10 yards or more and 16 went for 20 yards or more.

There's not really unwritten rules in football, like there are in baseball, but SDSU stayed away from normally taboo actions in a blowout game. There were no onside kicks, trick plays or two-point conversions. There were no deep passes. (The Jackrabbits scored on three passing plays in the second half: two screen passes and a hitch route, and in all three cases, no defenders bothered to make a tackle.)

The Jackrabbits starters mostly didn't play past halftime and the reserves kept scoring. It's hard to blame players who will likely only get a few chances this season to play for making the most of it.

This was a game between the third-ranked team in FCS football, which has reached the playoffs each of the last six seasons, and a program that won just 11 games in the last five seasons. Blowouts happen when there's a mismatch like that.

On Saturday, the 84-point game got out of hand but it clearly showed the disparity of talent and skill between both teams.

Related Topics: COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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