USD, SDSU to meet for 113th time Saturday in Brookings

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BROOKINGS, S.D. (KSFY) - This is an in-state rivalry taken to the extremes. This Saturday marks the 113th meeting between South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota on the football field.

"End-of-the-year games, in-state rivalry type games, you know they're going to bring their best, and so we got to match that," said South Dakota Head Coach Bob Nielson.

"We know with the rivalry, guys are going to come with a little more energy, and we need to be ready to play our best football," said South Dakota State Head Coach John Stiegelmeier.

The Coyotes are coming off their first playoff appearance at the FCS level last year, but have followed it with a rather disappointing 4-6 record this year.

"It's not been the year that we wanted win or loss wise, we've played well at times but inconsistently, so our goal is to play our best football of the year on Saturday. To go up there and get a win like that on the road would be another really big step for us on a football standpoint," said Nielson.

Despite not making the postseason this year, the Coyotes want to finish their season strong and spoil what the Jackrabbits have on the line.

"We struggled early in the year trying to get the running game going. We've run the ball better in the last two or three weeks. Something that we're going to need to do Saturday afternoon is have balance and be able to throw the ball on our terms and not when the other team knows we are," said Nielson.

On the other side of the ball, Stigelmeier's team is no stranger to the postseason. The Jackrabbits are coming off a semi-finals appearance in the FCS playoffs in 2017, which was their best run in school history.

"They've got a really good program, I know they've struggled a little bit this year, but they're going to be ready to play, we need to be ready to play, we need to be ready to be excited about the great crowd at this great stadium," said Stiegelmeier.

South Dakota State is ranked fifth in this week's FCS media poll and is in need of win in the regular season finale if they want to strengthen their chances as a top eight seed in this year's playoffs. The top eight seeds will get first round byes, as well as home field advantage.

"We need to score more points than the University of South Dakota and so we need to handle that up tempo stuff, we need to get off the field on defense and no worry about the number of plays or the tempo," said Stiegelmeier.

South Dakota State has won the last six match-ups against the University of South Dakota, but the last three games have been determined by seven points or fewer.

"We talk about playing in the present, whether it's a big play, or a bad play, or senior day, it doesn't matter get refocused and do your job," said Stiegelmeier.

South Dakota State leads the Missouri Valley Football Conference this year averaging 45 points a game, a big part of that success comes from having the top rushing and passing offense in the conference. The Coyotes are aware of the Jackrabbits powerful offense, and know if they want to go against the odds in this historic battle, it comes with playing a complete game on both ends.

"This has a little extra meaning just because of that fact that it is an in-state rivalry game and obviously for a lot of guys it will be their last football game," said Stiegelmeier.

Kickoff for Saturday's game is at 2 p.m. in Brookings at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.