South Dakota State football primer: Jackrabbits to host UC Davis in 2021 playoff rerun

·4 min read

Sep. 8—BROOKINGS, S.D. — Football returns to the campus of South Dakota State against a familiar opponent for the 2022 home opener. SDSU welcomes the University of California, Davis — the Jackrabbits' final home opponent from 2021 — back to Brookings to pick up where the teams left off last November. Here's what to know ahead of the contest:

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Dykhouse Stadium, Brookings.

Records: SDSU 0-1 overall, 0-0 Missouri Valley; UC Davis 0-1 overall, 0-0 Big Sky.

Coaches: SDSU: John Stiegelmeier, 26th season, 185-112; UC Davis: Dan Hawkins, 21st season (sixth at UCD), 142-85-1 (31-23 at UCD).

Last meeting: SDSU and UC Davis last met for the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs just over nine months ago in Brookings, where the Jackrabbits ran away with a 56-24 win.

Series history: The Jackrabbits and Aggies have met eight times, with SDSU holding a 6-2 edge in the series, including five straight victories. UC Davis' last win in the series came in a 52-0 blowout back in 2004.

Last week: Both teams took on opponents from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and came up short. SDSU fell, 7-3, in a defensive slugfest at Iowa, while UC Davis was defeated, 34-13, by Cal.

Notes:

* SDSU maintained its No. 2 ranking in the Stats Perform Top 25, taking two first-place votes (North Dakota State received the other 52) and narrowly edging No. 3 Montana for the second spot. UC Davis dropped out of the rankings after slotting in at No. 25 last week, though the Aggies still remain on the fringes with the second-most votes among programs outside the top 25.

* Saturday's game is part of the annual MVFC-Big Sky Challenge, an effort to promote non-league scheduling between two of the premier FCS conferences.

* Televised coverage will be available through Midco Sports or ESPN+.

About the Jackrabbits:

* SDSU has notched a 21-4 mark in home openers under Stiegelmeier, with a 6-0 mark since the opening of Dykhouse Stadium. The Jackrabbits have won 11 consecutive home openers, last falling to Illinois State in 2010.

* SDSU's last regular-season nonconference loss (non-FBS) came in 2016, when Cal Poly, another Big Sky school, came to Brookings and swiped a 38-31 win.

* The Jackrabbits' defense was the bright spot in Week 1 against Iowa, allowing just 166 yards and forcing two turnovers against the defending Big Ten West division champion Hawkeyes. Adam Bock spearheaded the effort, coming up with a team-high 13 total tackles and a forced fumble with the ensuing recovery.

* Against the Aggies last season, the Jackrabbits ran wild, rushing for a school playoff record 446 yards in the lopsided playoff victory. A considerable chunk — 185 yards worth — belonged to the since-departed Pierre Strong Jr, but SDSU's leading ballcarrier was Isaiah Davis (15 carries, 217 yards), who looks to improve on a hard-earned 50 yards rushing at Iowa. The entire SDSU offense, one of the strongest units in the country last season, will look to make a statement in returning to FCS competition after being held to 120 total yards last week.

About the Aggies:

* The Aggies went 8-4 last season on their way to just the second FCS playoff berth in program history (both under Dan Hawkins) before bowing out in the first round to the Jackrabbits.

* First-team all-Big Sky running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. claimed the UC Davis record for career all-purpose yards (4,630) last week and enters Saturday at 3,550 rushing yards, which is just 40 yards short of another career record. Last November in Brookings, Gilliam led the Aggies in both rushing and receiving, finishing the contest with 10 carries for 73 yards and one touchdown alongside eight catches for 55 yards.

* On defense, the Aggies are led by last year's leading tackler, linebacker Teddye Buchanan. A sophomore and team captain, Buchanan accumulated 74 total tackles (40 solo) with two sacks and two interceptions in 2021. In UC Davis' visit to Brookings, Buchanan had seven tackles, including one for loss.

* In last season's playoff meeting, UC Davis rolled up 402 total yards, but had an early turnover on downs, while two quarterbacks — one of which was 2022 Week 1 starter Miles Hastings — combined to throw six interceptions. Hastings went 8-of-18 for 72 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the playoff contest.

Next week: SDSU stays in Brookings to host Butler (from Indianapolis), on Sept. 17. UC Davis returns home to host the University of San Diego, also on Sept. 17.