Game Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 3 p.m. ET
Location: DakotaDome, Vermillion, South Dakota
Where To Watch: ESPN3/WatchESPN
Betting Odds: South Dakota State -5.5, O/U 69
Odds via sportsbooks monitored by GamblersPalace.com
The Showdown Series has been remarkably close historically. South Dakota State currently leads South Dakota 53-52-7 in this series after winning a close game at home last year.
This season, the South Dakota Coyotes are looking to knot the series once again. However, that’s not the most important thing on the minds of these players. A win will guarantee them a spot in the postseason, while a loss will endanger their chances at making the FCS playoffs for the first time in school history. Although South Dakota might still be in with a loss, it’s not a good look to lose four of your last five to close out the year.
Reasons to Like South Dakota
All three of the Coyotes losses this season have come on the road. In its four previous home games, South Dakota won three by 38 points or more and held on for a narrow victory over Youngstown State in the fourth.
There’s no doubt as to who the leader of South Dakota is. Chris Streveler is the reason that the Coyotes rattled off six straight wins to start the season. Although his play has slipped in recent weeks, he has been one of the best players in the country and should be a finalist for the Walter Payton Award. He is responsible for over 3,500 yards of offense and 31 touchdowns this season and is the first and second option on this team.
Reasons Not to Like South Dakota
This defense has gotten pummeled in recent weeks. The Coyotes are allowing 5.7 yards per game and couldn’t stop Illinois State, Northern Iowa, or North Dakota State. They’ve been decent against the run, but teams have shredded this secondary for an average of 7.9 yards per pass.
The offense is overly reliant on Streveler. No one else has really stepped up to take the load off of the Minnesota transfer and opposing teams have keyed on that.
Reasons to Like South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits are on a roll. South Dakota State knew it needed to start winning after it dropped games to Youngstown State and Northern Iowa and responded in a big way. SDSU has knocked off Western Illinois, North Dakota State, and Illinois State in consecutive weeks and has punched its ticket to the postseason.
Taryn Christon has been much sharper since the two losses earlier in the year and was fantastic in wins against Western Illinois and North Dakota State. He topped the 300-yard mark in each of those games and turned the ball over just once against two good defenses. Christion is a fantastic runner too, as Illinois State found out last week. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season and has found the end zone in four straight games.
Reasons Not to Like South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits have uncharacteristically struggled against the run this season. South Dakota State has allowed opponents to run for 4.4 yards per carry against this front and that’s not a good sign against a mobile quarterback like Streveler. This front seven was able to stop the Bison’s vaunted run game, but NDSU has been decimated with injuries to running backs this year.
Also, Christion can be a little inaccurate. In three different games this season, he has completed under 50 percent of his passes. Unsurprisingly, the Jackrabbits lost two of those games by double digits and the third they won by just a field goal.
The weather won’t be a factor since this is being played in a dome and the home field advantage won’t be as big as some think. This game could turn into a shootout if the Jackrabbits can’t stop Streveler, so be ready for some points. In the end though, I think South Dakota State will win because it has a more balanced offense and the Coyotes won’t be able to key on just one person.
Final Score: South Dakota State 41, South Dakota 33