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    SDSU FB: Jacks face new test in Beef Bowl

    The South Dakota State University football team closes out the nonconference portion of its schedule Saturday night, hosting Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the 52nd Annual Beef Bowl.

    Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. A beef barbecue north of the stadium and adjacent Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex precedes the game.

    Both teams are coming off lopsided victories in their last outings. The third-ranked Jackrabbits, who had their Sept. 1 scheduled season opener against Iowa State canceled due to weather, officially opened the 2018 campaign with a 45-14 home win over Montana State on Sept. 8.

    UAPB, 1-1 overall, got on the winning side of the ledger by shutting out Cumberland University (Tenn.), 55-0, for the first victory for head coach Cedric Thomas with the Lions.

    Saturday's game also will be played in support of Samaritan's Feet. The non-profit organization provides shoes to people in need throughout the world.

    THE SERIES: Saturday's game marks the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the gridiron.

    The Jackrabbits have faced only one other Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent in their history. SDSU posted a 31-24 road win at Southern (La.) during the 2004 season for the program's first win over an FCS opponent in the Division I?era.

    BEEF BOWL HISTORY: South Dakota State University is home to the original Beef Bowl, and the event celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 2016. Overall, the Jackrabbits have a 30-21 in Beef Bowl games.

    The Beef Bowl was started as SDSU's way of recognizing those individuals and firms involved in the beef industry in South Dakota.

    Festivities include a pre-game barbecue with proceeds going toward scholarships in the Animal and Range Sciences Department, as well as presentation of the SDSU Friends of the Beef Industry Award. Proceeds from a live steer auction at halftime benefits the Jackrabbit Athletic Department.

    Outside of Hobo Day, SDSU's annual homecoming celebration, the Beef Bowl has consistently ranked second for home single-game attendance. More than 10,000 people have attended each of the last 13 Beef Bowls and 15 times overall.

    HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: The Jackrabbits have made a seamless transition to Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium since the stadium opened in 2016. SDSU has turned in a 14-2 record on its home field and carries a five-game home winning streak into Saturday's game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

    The Jackrabbits' mark at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium includes a 3-0 mark in Football Championship Subdivision playoff games.

    STIG FOR 150: South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier can reach another milestone this evening as he is in search of career win No. 150.

    Already the career wins leader at SDSU, Stiegelmeier has guided the Jackrabbits to a 149-97 career mark (.606 winning percentage) in 22 seasons. The Jackrabbits have turned in a winning record in 17 of his 21 full seasons and made seven Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances.

    CAPTAINS: Leading the Jackrabbit football team on the field and in the locker room are four captains:

    • Jordan Brown, Sr., cornerback, Scottsdale, Arizona;
    • Taryn Christion, Sr., quarterback, Sioux Falls, S.D.;
    • Dalton Cox, Sr., linebacker, Aberdeen, S.D.; and
    • Christian Rozeboom, Jr., linebacker, Sioux Center, Iowa


    Christion and Rozeboom are each in their second seasons as captains.

    ELITE COMPANY: South Dakota State is one of only four Football Championship Subdivision programs to reach the playoffs each of the last six seasons.

    The three other programs to play in the postseason each year since 2012 are New Hampshire, North Dakota State and Sam Houston State. 

    RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State entered the 2018 season with its highest-ever rankings in a Football Championship Subdivision poll, checking in at No. 3 in both the STATS FCS media poll and AFCA FCS Coaches' Poll. It marked the fifth time in six years the Jackrabbits have entered a season with a top-10 national ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision, surpassing their No. 4 ranking in the 2017 STATS FCS Preseason Poll.

    Defending national champion North Dakota State holds the top spot in both national polls, while 2017 runner-up James Madison is second in each of the two major polls.

    SDSU has maintained its No. 3 ranking in both polls and has now appeared in the top 25 of 81 consecutive media polls dating back to October 2012.

    PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: South Dakota State's Cade Johnson and Brady Hale were honored as Missouri Valley Football Conference Players of the Week for their standout performances in the Jackrabbits' season-opening 45-14 victory over Montana State on Sept. 8.

    Johnson, a sophomore wide receiver from Papillion, Nebraska, earned Co-Offensive Player of the Week recognition after tying a Jackrabbit single-game school record with four touchdown receptions, while also setting career bests of nine receptions and 138 receiving yards. Johnson scored each of SDSU's first three touchdowns from 2, 24 and 19 yards, respectively, in the first half as the Jackrabbits led 24-0 at intermission. He tied the mark with a 7-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. Johnson also recorded a 23-yard kickoff return, giving him 161 all-purpose yards in the contest.

    He shared the offensive award with South Dakota quarterback Austin Simmons. Johnson also was selected as an honorable mention FCS Performer of the Week by College Football Performance Awards.

    A senior punter from Yankton, Hale received Special Teams Player of the Week honors after punting four times for an average of 48.0 yards. Three of Hale's punts landed inside the Bobcats' 20-yard line and two of his punts traveled 50-plus yards, including a 55-yarder.

    JOHNSON TIES RECORD: South Dakota State wide receiver Cade Johnson became the latest Jackrabbit to tie the SDSU single-game record for touchdown receptions when he scored four times Sept. 8 against Montana State.

    Don Bartlett originally set the record with four touchdown receptions against North Dakota State in 1949. That mark went unmatched for 67 years until Dallas Goedert caught four TDs against Western Illinois in 2016 and Jake Wieneke scored on four pass plays in the 2017 season opener against Duquesne.

    TAKEAWAY STREAK: With interceptions by senior cornerback Jordan Brown and sophomore safety Josh Manchigiah in the Sept. 8 season opener against Montana State, SDSU extended its streak of forcing at least one turnover to 16 consecutive games.

    Brown leads all active Jackrabbit players with six career interceptions, while Manchigiah came away with his first career interception. Manchigiah also broke up a pair of passes as SDSU limited Montana State to 164 passing yards for the game.

    The Jackrabbit defense was especially stout in the first half in allowing only one first down and forcing Montana State to punt seven times.

    VALLEY PREVIEW: 
    For the second year in a row, South Dakota State has been picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference race.

    The Jackrabbits finished second behind defending league and Football Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State, which garnered all 39 first-place votes from a panel that included head coaches, sports information and media. The Bison tallied 390 points, followed by SDSU with 340 and Northern Iowa with 270. Youngstown State (258) and Illinois State (248) rounded the top half of the 10-team field.

    NDSU has been tabbed as the preseason favorite seven consecutive seasons and has won seven consecutive league titles - sharing the title with another team four times, including with the Jackrabbits in 2016. The Bison won the 2017 league title with a 7-1 MVFC record, with their only loss coming at SDSU. The Jackrabbits and Northern Iowa tied for second in the 2017 league race with respective 6-2 marks in MVFC games, while SDSU went on to a school-record 11 overall wins and reached the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history.

    The MVFC has had four or more teams qualify for the FCS playoffs each of the last four seasons, including a record-tying five programs in 2017. NDSU, SDSU, South Dakota and UNI each won at least one playoff game last season, while Western Illinois fell in first-round action.

    In addition, the Jackrabbits were well-represented on the preseason all-MVFC team.

    On offense, quarterback Taryn Christion and kicker Chase Vinatieri were selected to the first team.

    A senior from Sioux Falls, Christion posted his second consecutive season with 4,000 yards of total offense in 2017, passing for 3,515 yards and gaining another 500 yards on the ground as SDSU reached the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for the first time in program history. Christion accounted for 44 touchdowns by passing for a school-record 35 touchdowns and scoring nine more times on the ground.

    Christion was named MVFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and was a second-team all-MVFC honoree last season. He already ranks seventh all-time in the league record book with 8,515 career passing yards, and is tied for fourth all-time with 72 touchdown passes. In addition, Christion ranks third all-time in MVFC history with 9,697 career yards of total offense.

    A junior from Sioux Falls and a fellow Roosevelt High School graduate, Vinatieri connected on 13-of-14 field-goal attempts and 58-of-62 point-after tries during the 2017 campaign. He added a rushing touchdown on a fake field goal to finish with 103 points to rank second on the team.

    Vinatieri was a member of the all-MVFC Second Team a year ago.

    Sophomore Cade Johnson led the Jackrabbit contingent on the second team by being honored as both a wide receiver and return specialist. A native of Papillion, Nebraska, Johnson ranked third on the squad last season with 23 receptions, tallying 318 yards and three touchdowns. He also set an Jackrabbit single-season record for kickoff return yardage with 839 yards, averaging 28 yards on 30 attempts, and became the first SDSU player in more than 50 years to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season.

    Also honored on the preseason second team were junior fullback Luke Sellers and sophomore long snapper Bradey Sorenson.

    100 FCS WINS: South Dakota State recorded its 100th win as a Football Championship Subdivision program with a 62-30 victory at Missouri State on Oct. 21, 2017. Since moving to the FCS ranks at the start of the 2004 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a 107-64 overall record (.626 winning percentage).

    SDSU has now turned in a winning record in 12 of 14 full seasons and has compiled a 55-25 mark (.688 winning percentage) in Missouri Valley Football Conference games.

    PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: 
    South Dakota State University linebacker Christian Rozeboom and cornerback Jordan Brown have been tabbed as members of the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team. Both players also received preseason first-team all-MVFC recognition.

    A junior from Sioux Center, Iowa, Rozeboom was selected to the first team after posting his second consecutive 100-tackle season for the Jackrabbits in 2017. Rozeboom registered a team-high 127 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss, notching 10 or more tackles in seven of the team's 14 games. Also on the initial watch list for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award for the subdivision's top defensive player, Rozeboom added three fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions to earn a spot on multiple postseason All-America teams a year ago.

    Brown, a senior from Scottsdale, Arizona, earned third-team recognition on the preseason All-America squad. In earning first-team all-MVFC honors last season, he tallied team bests of nine pass breakups and three forced fumbles, while ranking second in both tackles (72) and interceptions (3).

    CHRISTION SETS NEW MARKS: Quarterback Taryn Christion has rewritten the Jackrabbit record book during his three seasons as the Jackrabbits' full-time starter.

    The Sioux Falls native has established new Jackrabbit standards for both career and single-season touchdown passes. His 35 touchdown passes in 2017 broke the mark of 30 he previously set in 2016 and shared with Ryan Berry (2008). With his three-touchdown performance in a 2017 playoff win over Northern Iowa, Christion surpassed Austin Sumner's mark of 65 career touchdown passes and enters the weekend with 76 career touchdown passes. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 31-of-36 career games, including 13-of-14 contests last season, and has four six-touchdown performances.

    After passing for four touchdowns and running for another in the 2018 season opener versus Montana State, it marked the 16th time in Christion's career he accounted for scores both through the air and on the ground in the same game.

    Also during the Jackrabbits' playoff run a season ago, Christion took over the career lead in total offense at SDSU and comes into Saturday's matchup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with 10,015 yards, breaking Sumner's previous record of 9,284 yards from 2011-14. Christion has passed for 8,834 yards and run for another 1,181 in his SDSU career. Last season, he passed and rushed for touchdowns in the same game seven times, including the team's first two FCS playoff games.

    Entering Saturday's game, Christion stands second on the all-time Missouri Valley Football Conference charts for total offense, after passing North Dakota State's Brock Jensen (9,838 yards from 2010-13) last week. Matt Brown, who tallied 10,952 yards of total offense for Illinois State from 2009-12, holds the record. Christion also is poised to surpass Brown's league record of 78 career touchdown passes this weekend.

    Christion, who now holds 13 Jackrabbit records, has posted the top-two single-season passing totals in program history. He threw for an SDSU-record 3,714 yards in 2016 and tallied 3,515 yards last season. He stands 944 yards away from passing Sumner (9,458 yards from 2011-14) for the Jackrabbit career lead in passing yardage.

    In addition, Christion once again appears on the initial watch list for the 2018 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, which is presented to the subdivision's top offensive player. Christion has been a two-time finalist for the award, placing seventh in the balloting in 2016 and sixth last year.

    BLOCK THAT KICK: Defensive tackle Xavier Ward picked up where the Jackrabbits left off in the special teams department, blocking a Montana State extra-point attempt in the 2018 season opener.

    In 2017, SDSU ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision with six blocked kicks.

    BALANCED ATTACK: The Jackrabbit offense featured a balanced attack in the season-opening win against Montana State. SDSU threw for 319 yards and rushed for 193 en route to topping the 500-yard mark of total offense for the fifth time in its last 15 games.

    Each of the Jackrabbits' two leading rushers was playing in his first collegiate game. C.J. Wilson gained a team-best 62 yards on 12 carries, while Pierre Strong Jr. needed only two attempts to gain 40 yards. Strong posted the long run of the night with a 36-yarder in the fourth quarter.

    In the passing game, junior wide receiver Adam Anderson complemented Cade Johnson's breakout game with a career-high 86 yards of his own on four catches.

    JACKRABBIT BLOODLINES: Several South Dakota State football players have have strong family ties to South Dakota State Athletics.

    Quarterback Taryn Christion's mother, Heather, played volleyball at SDSU and fullback Turner Blasius' father, Justin, was an NCAA Division II national wrestling champion in 1994.

    In addition, linebacker Dalton Cox's father, Doug, wrestled for the Jackrabbits in the 1980s, while his younger brother, Colton, is a redshirt freshman on the SDSU baseball team.

    Sophomore kicker Chase Vinatieri is the nephew of former Jackrabbit and current Indianapolis Colts standout kicker Adam Vinatieri. Chase Vinatieri made 13-of-14 field goal attempts last season to lead the nation in field goal percentage (.929), and enters the 2018 season with a string of nine consecutive made field-goal attempts. In the Jackrabbits' playoff victory over Northern Iowa last season, Vinatieri made a career-best three field goals, including a career-long 55-yarder in the second quarter.

    Newcomer Logan Busch's father, Mike, played quarterback at SDSU from 1984-85 and ranks in the Jackrabbits' all-time top 10 for passing yards and touchdown passes. His older brother, Landon, was a pitcher on the Jackrabbit baseball team in 2015 and 2016.

    Three sets of brothers are on the 2018 Jackrabbit roster: Jordan and Jacob Brown, Brandon and Jaden Snyder, and identical twins Jadon and Jaxon Janke.

    Brandon Snyder joined the SDSU football program at the start of fall camp as a graduate transfer from Iowa.

    JACKS IN THE PROS: With the regular season under way, four former South Dakota State University football standouts find themselves on National Football League rosters, continuing the Jackrabbits' long tradition of developing players into pro prospects.

    Headlining the list is Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts. Vinatieri has earned a reputation as one the most consistent and clutch kickers in the NFL. After two Pro Bowl selections (2002, 2004), he left New England following the 2005 season as the team's career scoring leader with 1,058 points. In 2015, he became the first player in NFL?to score 1,000 points for two different teams.

    Vinatieri's career totals include 562-of-667 on field goal attempts, 84.3 percent, and 2,496 career points. He ranks second in both career scoring and career field goals and fifth in career extra points (810). Currently the oldest player in the NFL at age 45, Vinatieri holds 13 NFL records, including 20 100-point seasons.

    In his fourth season with the Detroit Lions is former Jackrabbit standout running back Zach Zenner. During a highly decorated career from 2011-14, Zenner became the first player in the history of Division I football to rush for 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He signed a free agent contract with the Lions following the 2015 NFL Draft and has played in 28 games over three seasons. Zenner emerged as the Lions' top running back late in the 2016 season, finishing the year with a team-best four rushing touchdowns and second on the squad with 334 rushing yards.

    Also continuing his NFL career is offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann. A member of the Jackrabbits from 2010-13, Witzmann earned a starting role with the Kansas Chiefs in 2017. However, he released by the Chiefs at the end of training camp and has since been signed by the Minnesota Vikings. Witzmann previously spent time with the Houston, New Orleans and Dallas.

    Making his professional debuts last week tight end Dallas Goedert. A two-time All-American, Goedert became the first Jackrabbit selected in the NFL Draft in eight years as he was a second-round pick by the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Britton native caught one pass for four yards in a season-opening win over Atlanta on Sept. 6.

    Also in their first training camps this summer were 2017 All-American Jake Wieneke (Minnesota Vikings) and Jacob Ohnesorge (Dallas Cowboys). Neither made the final roster for their respective teams and is awaiting other professional opportunities.

    BIG SKY-MVFC CHALLENGE: In an effort to publicize current matchups and promote future non-conference scheduling between two of the premier FCS conferences, the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Big Sky Conference have announced the 2018 Challenge Series matchups between the two leagues.

    Last year marked the inaugural year of the Big Sky-MVFC Challenge, which was won by the MVFC, 5-3. Notably, Weber State downed Western Illinois in an additional meeting in the NCAA Division I Football Championship, but only regular season games count toward the Challenge Series.

    Heading into the 2018 season, institutions in the two conferences have played one another 44 times. The MVFC has the advantage in that span, although the Big Sky and MVFC are almost even in the past two years, with the MVFC holding a slight 9-8 advantage. This year, institutions in the two leagues will play one another eight times, including five times at MVFC sites.

    Since being founded in 1985, the MVFC has an all-time edge of 55-37 in games played between their institutions, which includes 31 playoff meetings. Notably, the Big Sky and the MVFC make up two of only three leagues to have two or more playoff teams every year since 1999. In each of the past four seasons, the MVFC and Big Sky, meanwhile, have combined to produce eight of the 24 teams in the NCAA Division I Football Championship playoff field each year. Since the FCS playoffs began in 1978, the two leagues have combined to produce 14 national champions.

    This year, a total of eight teams representing the two leagues highlighted the STATS FCS top-25 pre-season rankings. All eight matchups in the 2018 Challenge Series will feature at least one team that received votes or is ranked in that pre-season top-25 poll, including the UNI at Montana game on Sept. 1 game, in which both teams were ranked.

    Heading into the final week of the series, the MVFC holds a 3-2 lead with three more games remaining. The home team has won all five previous matchups.

    Following is full listing of the 2018 matchups:

    • Aug. 30: Montana State 26, Western Illinois 23
    • Sept. 1: North Dakota State 49, Cal Poly 3
    • Sept. 1: Montana 26, Northern Iowa 23
    • Sept. 8: South Dakota 43, Northern Colorado 28
    • Sept. 8: South Dakota State 45, Montana State 14
    • Sept. 15: Northern Arizona at Missouri State
    • Sept. 15: South Dakota at Weber State
    • Sept. 15: Montana at Western Illinois


    DANA J. DYKHOUSE STADIUM: Jackrabbit football moved into a new home in September of 2016 with the completion of Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

    The stadium, which was constructed in phases on the site of SDSU's previous home field, Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, seats 19,340 spectators and cost $65 million to build. The stadium is being funded through private gifts and long-term revenue streams, including concessions and suite, loge box and ticket sales. Bonds are financing nearly two-thirds of the project's construction, with the remaining dollars coming from private support. Lead gifts totaling $12.5 million from Sioux Falls banker Dana Dykhouse and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford were announced in October 2013.

    The stadium officially opened Sept. 8, 2016, featuring a concert by country music superstars Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Lee Brice as part of the Jacks Bash opening weekend. The first football game was two days later, on Sept. 10, when the Jackrabbits defeated Drake, 56-28.

    SDSU has gone on to post a 14-2 record at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium during its first two seasons of operation, including a 3-0 mark in FCS playoff games.

    Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium was designed by Kansas City-based Crawford Architects, with the construction firm JE Dunn serving as the project manager at risk and Henry Carlson Company of Sioux Falls serving as general contractor. The stadium recently won the 2017 Alliant Build America Award from the Associated General Contractors of America South Dakota Building Chapter.

    STIG SHOW: The John Stiegelmeier Radio Show airs each Monday throughout the 2018 football season.

    The show is scheduled to air at 6 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, originating with flagship station WNAX 570 AM in Yankton. In addition, the weekly show also will be streamed online free of charge at GoJacks.com.

    Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the John Stiegelmeier Radio Show will also feature interviews with Jackrabbit student-athletes and assistant coaches. Jackrabbit fans are encouraged to attend the show in person at Cubby's Sports Bar and Grill, 307 Main Ave., in downtown Brookings.

    A LOOK AHEAD:
     After a bye week, the Jackrabbits are scheduled to open Missouri Valley Football Conference action Sept. 29 by traveling to defending league and FCS?national champion North Dakota State.

    Kickoff for the annual Dakota Marker game is set for 2:30 p.m. at the Fargodome in Fargo, North Dakota. The game will be televised by Midco Sports Network and also available for viewing on the ESPN+ platform (subscription required).

    Next home action for the Jackrabbits is Oct. 6 against Indiana State. Kickoff for the Hall of Fame Game/Precision Ag Bowl is 6 p.m.

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