Good Cop/Bad Cop: South Dakota State

Sports reporter Jack Shover

Jack Shover and Spencer Suckow

Good Cop: Jack Shover

Despite finishing one game shy of the FCS National Championship last season, South Dakota State will not have a chance against Iowa State this Saturday.

Last season, it was James Madison that knocked South Dakota State out of the FCS Playoffs by a score of 51-16.

James Madison boasted one of the best defenses at the FCS level last season. The Dukes dominated the Jackrabbits in the trenches and were sticky in coverage against elite level receivers including 2018 first round pick in tight end Dallas Goedert and standout wideout Jake Wieneke.

The bad news for the Jackrabbits is that Goedert, Wieneke and other top receivers have graduated, and Iowa State figures to field one of the top defensive teams in the Big 12 this season, anchored by preseason All-Big 12 honorees in cornerback Brian Peavy and defensive end JaQuan Bailey.

Against James Madison, the Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion was pressured to the extent that he threw six interceptions and took five sacks. Without Christion’s top weapons and behind a suspect offensive line, Iowa State’s front seven will be able to control the line of scrimmage in the early downs and tee off on Christion on passing downs.

I haven’t even talked about Iowa State’s offense yet — they’ll be able to gash the Jackrabbits in a variety of ways.

Against James Madison, South Dakota State was gashed by running back Marcus Marshall to the tune of 203 yards on 15 carries.

With Iowa State’s solid line, David Montgomery, who led the nation in forced missed tackles per Pro Football Focus, should be able to turn out 175 yards easily.

If SDSU can adequately defend Iowa State’s running game, there isn’t a chance they can stop Iowa State’s passing game with Kyle Kempt at quarterback and Chase Allen, Hakeem Butler and Matthew Eaton catching passes, just to name a few.

Basically, Iowa State’s offense will thrive against the Jackrabbits and the defense will make sure this one isn’t even close.


Iowa State 48, South Dakota State 6

Bad Cop: Spencer Suckow

If there’s any fanbase that knows what it’s like to have hope going into a game/season, only to quickly have that hope demolished in hilariously awful fashion, it’s Iowa State.

There hasn’t been this much hype around Cyclone football since the Seneca Wallace days, and it’s easy to understand why. Iowa State beat three ranked teams last season, finished 8-5 and won a bowl game, and will return key contributors on both sides of the ball going into this season.

On top of that, Matt Campbell and his staff have done a great job at both recruiting and developing, and have instilled a discipline in the Cyclones not seen in a long time. Everything seems to be trending up for the Cyclones.

Past experiences indicate that this is about the time where everything comes crashing down.

South Dakota State is a talented team that’s currently ranked No. 3 in the FCS poll. They lost tight end Dallas Goedert and receiver Jake Wieneke to the NFL, but the Jackrabbits still return star quarterback Taryn Christion, who gained over 4,000 yards and scored 44 touchdowns as a duel-threat in 2017, and a potential NFL prospect at linebacker in Christian Rozeboom.

Simply put, ignore the fact that they’re in the FCS. The Jackrabbits are good, and have been for the better part of the last seven years. They have the talent and winning culture necessary to beat several FBS-level teams.

Heck, last year they beat FCS dynasty (and frequent Power-five killers) North Dakota State to give the Bison their only loss of the season.

Iowa State isn’t a bad team by any stretch, but the Cyclones are a team that has had well documented struggles with FCS opponents. ISU is deeper and more talented than they’ve been a long time, but the Jackrabbits are plenty deep too, and this SDSU team is better than the Northern Iowa squad that beat Iowa State to open the 2016 season.

The Jackrabbits are an experienced team full of hungry, overlooked players. If Iowa State lets SDSU hang around, I think that that experience will ultimately allow the Jackrabbits to come onto Mid-America Energy Field and steal the win from the Cyclones (and steal the hope from Cyclone fans).


South Dakota State: 27, Iowa State: 24