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FCS Game of the Week Preview: No. 3 Youngstown State at No. 6 South Dakota

Can South Dakota continue its dream season?

NCAA Football: Youngstown State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, October 7, 2017, 3 p.m. ET

Location: DakotaDome, Vermillion, South Dakota

Where To Watch: ESPN3/WatchESPN

Betting Odds: South Dakota -4.5, O/U 48

Odds via sportsbooks monitored by

The South Dakota Coyotes already have as many wins as they did all of last season. South Dakota went 4-7 in 2016 and ended the season on a four game losing streak.

This season, the Coyotes are the talk of the FCS with three straight big wins. They knocked off Bowling Green, North Dakota, and Western Illinois in September, and have gone from unranked to No. 6 in the country in the span of a few weeks.

South Dakota now has the toughest game of its season so far. The Youngstown State Penguins have only lost once all season, to Pittsburgh in overtime, and again look like one of the top teams in the country. Bo Pelini will have his team geared up for this massive road tilt.

Reasons to Like South Dakota

It’s all about Chris Streveler for the Coyotes. If you read these FCS previews, you know all about how important Streveler is to South Dakota’s success.

Streveler is a dual-threat quarterback who has been responsible for 17 touchdowns so far this season, and has yet to commit a turnover. He has always had the legs, but this season he is getting it done with his arm too.

He has become a better passer this year, completing 65 percent of his passes and averaging 9.7 yards per attempt. Last year, he dinked and dunked underneath a lot to help his completion percentage, but this season he has been able to hit guys down field consistently.

Reasons Not to Like South Dakota

The Coyotes almost blew a 32-point lead against Western Illinois last week as the pass defense collapsed down the stretch. South Dakota allowed Sean McGuire to throw for 441 yards and four touchdowns, as Jaelon Acklin continually beat coverage late in the game and almost led the Leathernecks to a comeback win.

Youngstown State doesn’t throw the ball much, but you can bet that Bo Pelini’s staff looked at that poor effort late from South Dakota in order to find something to exploit.

Reasons to Like Youngstown State

The Penguins have a fantastic defense. They have the third-best pass defense in the nation according to the NCAA, and are allowing just 5.33 yards per pass attempt. This secondary has been great this season, and not even Pittsburgh or South Dakota State could move the ball through the air against them.

Youngstown State also boasts one of the best run games in the nation. The Penguins are averaging 6.1 yards per carry and they have been able to control time of possession as a result of their success on the ground. Last week, they controlled the ball for over 45 minutes against South Dakota State and slowly crushed the life out of the Jackrabbits.

Reasons Not to Like Youngstown State

Starting quarterback Hunter Wells probably won’t play in this one as he re-aggravated a lingering shoulder injury last week against South Dakota State. The Penguins don’t throw the ball much, but his numbers have been much better than backup Nathan Mays this year.

Mays is not much of a threat to go deep if he is indeed the starter, and the Coyotes can edge up into the box and sit on routes. If he can’t stretch the field, South Dakota could shut down this team’s running game.


Even though South Dakota has been able to put points on every team it has faced this season, Youngstown State is a different animal. The Penguins can limit Streveler and turn this game into a slog. Look for the under to cash in a low-scoring affair that Youngstown State pulls out late.

Final Score: Youngstown State 21, South Dakota 17