The season for South Dakota State started with a bang. Literally. Lightning and thunder and rain and just horrid weather canceled its game at Iowa State early in the first quarter. That made the season opener a home game against Montana State, which the Jacks handled with ease 45-14. It was a performance that had you thinking: Is SDSU that good or are the Bobcats a lower-tier Big Sky team?
That answer for SDSU didn’t come the following week against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, an NAIA team masquarading as an FCS program. The final was 90-6. The Jackrabbits broke more of a sweat in warmups. Then came a bye. Now comes NDSU. So the question to head coach John Stiegelmeier was pretty simple: Canceled game, Montana State, Pine Bluff, bye, does playing two games in four weeks help or hurt you coming into the Marker game?
“Our view is it helps us because we have to take the positive approach,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything about the Iowa State game. If I’m worried, then the coaches are worried and the players are worried. We’ve worked our tails off.”
Stiegelmeier said SDSU tried to get the Iowa State game played on the ensuing Sunday “but for a lot of reasons it didn’t happen,” he said. He said his administration tried to schedule a game last week during his team’s bye week, but that didn’t happen, either. Two teams who had games canceled had the same open date last week, but for whatever reason they didn’t want to play. They were non-scholarship FCS Drake and Jackson State (Miss.) of the Southwest Athletic Conference. Jackson already played FBS Southern Mississippi and Drake already played Montana, so both probably figured playing one team a level above was enough for the season.
“I credit our administration, they did everything they could to get a game for our seniors,” Stiegelmeier said.
If the Jacks come out hot in the first quarter, then there’s your answer. The light slate helped them. If they appear sluggish, then you can see why SDSU worked so hard to get a game last week.