South Dakota State kicks off the football season Saturday night at home against Butler. And while we (men, sports guys) don’t know much about much, here is what we do know.
What we know about: SDSU’s football team
The Jacks went 9-4 last year. They made the playoffs. They won a playoff game. They graduated some really good players like Tyrel Kool and Will Castle and Ross Shafrath and Andy Mink. They return some really good players like Zach Zenner and Austin Sumner and TJ Lally and Winston Wright.
Will they be good again? I don’t know. I think so, but I don’t know and we are sticking to things we know.
We know the Jacks need to find a way to beat North Dakota State, but that game is a long ways off (28 days) and all the Jacks can do this week is go 1-0.
Media guys usually hate sayings like “one game at a time” and “all we can do is go 1-0 this week”, but I have come to love Coach Stiegelmeier’s mantra of “1-0”. The saying is painted above the door on the way out of the locker room. It is the last thing the players see before they hit the field before a game. It is a beautifully simple strategic statement.
The Jacks try to go 1-0 against Butler on Saturday.
What we know about: Butler’s football team
The Bulldogs averaged 438 yards and 28 points per game last seasons. Quarterback Matt Lancaster is a transfer from Missouri Valley school Illinois State. Lancaster threw 21 TD passes last year and only 3 INT. He also led all Pioneer Football League quarterbacks in rushing with 408 yards and 8 TD. They have a running back with the very cool name of Trae Heeter who ran for 1,103 yards last year to lead the PFL.
What we know about: The PFL (Pioneer Football League)
Patty Viverito is the commissioner. She is also commish of the Missouri Valley. The PFL and the MVFC are the only football-only conferences in the country.
The only other Pioneer team SDSU has played is Valparaiso in 2005. The Jacks won 69-6. Valparaiso lost at North Dakota on Thursday night 69-10.
The Pioneer Football League does not offer football scholarships. This year, for the first time, the PFL will get an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
What we know about: The FCS Playoffs
The field expands this year from 20 to 24. Eight teams will get first round byes. (SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier says this is one of the Jackrabbit goals… earn one of those 8 byes. )
Three powerhouse FCS teams who made the playoffs last year will not be in the field this year because they are moving up to the FBS. Old Dominion will join Conference USA next year while Appalachian State and Georgia Southern will join the Sun Belt Conference. (Georgia Southern is the team that almost beat North Dakota State in the national semis last year.)
What we know about: North Dakota State's football team
They are going to be really good. Again. Can they beat Kansas State on Friday? I don't think so, but I don't know.
What we know about: Women
PS – We have the Butler/SDSU game LIVE on Midco Sports Network at 6:00 on Saturday.