The Bison football team returns home this week, playing host to the No. 11 ranked South Dakota State Jackrabbits for the prized Dakota Marker trophy.
The Jackrabbits come into the game with a record of 3-2. The pair of losses was to the TCU Horned Frogs of the Big 12 conference, 59-41 and to Cal Poly at home. This past weekend, the Jacks picked up a win against Southern Illinois, moving their conference record to 2-0.
The Herd enter the game with an undefeated 5-0 record, coming off a 27-3 throttling of Missouri State last Saturday, which brought them to a 2-0 conference record as well.
The Dakota Marker has been contested annually between the Jackrabbits and the Bison since 2004. NDSU currently holds the trophy from last year’s 28-7 win in Brookings. Of the twelve meetings for which the trophy has been on the line, the Bison have won eight times. That includes their current six game winning streak.
In the overall series between NDSU and SDSU, dating back to 1903, the Bison are 59-40-5. The Bison have not lost to SDSU since 2009 and have won their past two playoff meetings, in 2012 and 2014 on their way to two national titles.
The Jackrabbits will be seeking to end their current dry spell against the Herd with their high octane offense. SDSU lights up the scoreboard with the highest scoring offense in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, averaging 45 points per game. They rank second in the conference with 461.4 yards per game, trailing just Southern Illinois in that category. The Jackrabbits rely heavily on the passing game, as their 121.8 rushing yards per game is last in the MVFC.
Wide receiver Jake Weineke leads SDSU with 595 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback Taryn Christion boasts a 67.6 completion percentage with 1,636 yards through the air, as well as a 20 to one touchdowns to interception ratio.
While they’ll bring a strong offense to Fargo, they face a tough assignment against the Bison’s defense. Conceding just 313.2 yards per game, NDSU has the second best overall defense in the conference. NDSU also surrenders a paltry 75.2 yards on the ground per game, by far the best in the Missouri Valley.
The key to the game will be if NDSU’s pass defense can stop the Jackrabbits high-flying attack. This task will be made easier by the fact that NDSU’s stout front seven will force SDSU into passing situations. LB Robbie Grimsley and CB Jalen Allison both have two interceptions on the season. Forcing turnovers and mistakes from the opposition has been a huge key for the Bison defense thus far.
Offensively, the Bison will not be too challenged against SDSU’s defense. The Jacks rank last in the conference coming into the week. Easton Stick looks to build on very solid performances over the past games. King Frazier will likely lead the large rushing threat for the Bison.
The Bison will face a tall order against the Jackrabbits, but with their top class defense and 19,000 voracious fans packing the FargoDome the Bison are ready to further their lead at the top of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.