Tyler Merriam, the voice of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, said this preseason top 10 FCS football team is coming to Columbia on Saturday with the goal of trying to win a football game. For head coach John Stiegelemeier, it’s not just a game to collect a payout from and move on.
South Dakota State is coming off a 2013 season in which it made its second straight appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and third in five years. Missouri State fans are familiar with SDSU, sharing the same Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Jackrabbits tied a school record for wins in a season en route to a 9-5 overall record and tied for a second-place finish in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with a 5-3 mark.
They’ll present some interesting challenges on both sides of the ball. The strength of Missouri’s defense in on the line and they thrive on shutting down opposing running backs. The Tigers get a tough test from senior running back Zach Zenner, who already holds the league record for career all-purpose yards and needs less than 300 yards to set the conference’s all-time rushing mark. Zenner has rushed for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
With questions about Missouri’s receivers, Merriam says the strong suit of SDSU’s defense is their secondary. Jimmie Hunt, Bud Sasser and Darius White may be tested.
Watch my Google Hangout with Tyler Merriam
The South Dakota State football roster features six players from the state of Missouri. Two of those players, backup defensive backs Mark Pickerel and Freeman Simmons, will be making a true homecoming Saturday as they are both graduates of Columbia’s Rock Bridge High School.Pickerel is a junior, while Simmons is expected to make his collegiate debut after redshirting during the 2013 season.
Other Missouri natives on the Jackrabbit roster include:
• Jay Carlson, Jr., kicker (kickoffs), Parkville;
• Auston LaBlance, Sr., defensive lineman, Kansas City;
• Andrew Mueller, Sr., offensive lineman, Peculiar;
• Dom Wright, Sr., wide receiver/kick returner, Lee’s Summit