Two teams struggling to get back on the right track this season will meet up in Brookings this Saturday as the 24th ranked Jackrabbits host No. 17 Northern Iowa. South Dakota State has lost four of its last five. As for the Panthers, they've dropped three straight including last Saturday's double-overtime loss to USD.
The big play killed the Jacks this past weekend as the team gave up 274 yards to Missouri State on just four plays in their 35-21 road loss.
"You say that and then you get kind of this feeling, 'Well, if they hadn't happened.' They did happen. They happened for a reason. We broke down on defense. We made mental errors, we made scheme errors. It's unnacceptable," head coach John Stiegelmeier said.
Stiegelmeier will try to get his team ready this week as SDSU moves on to its annual Hall of Fame game in Brookings. They face a tough test with Northern Iowa coming to town. State hasn't beat the Panthers since 2009.
"We're looking forward to getting back at home. We're looking forward to playing Northern Iowa. They have great tradition. We're building that tradition. I expect we'll have a great crowd. We plan to play our best football," Stiegelmeier said.
Despite a disappointing defensive performance, running back Zach Zenner is still turning in quality outings. His 138 yards against Missouri State took him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. He also has 15 touchdowns.
Northern Iowa's rusher David Johnson has six. He ran for 187 yards against the Coyotes and is on pace to surpass 1,000 yards this weekend unless the Jacks have something to say about it.
"They've got a great running back. They've got a quarterback that's going to keep getting better because he's still young but he's played a lot of football. They're very aggressive on defense. It's going to be a battle. It's a Missouri Valley game, it's going to be a battle," Stiegelmeier said.
Kickoff in Brookings is scheduled for 2 p.m.