BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Along with the added hype of College GameDay coming to Brookings, the Dakota Marker matchup between number one NDSU and third-ranked SDSU has conference championship implications and FCS playoff positioning at stake.
Gameday coming to town won’t be the only thing new to this year’s Dakota Marker rivalry, as both programs will lean on first year starters at quarterback, in redshirt freshmen J’Bore Gibbs and Trey Lance.
Gibbs will be making his 6th career start on Saturday, but continues to gain confidence with every rep.
“Just throws he wasn’t making at Minnesota, he’s making those throws now. He’s really sitting in the pocket, and really reading the defense all the way through,” Junior Wide Receiver Cade Johnson said.
Lance has started every game for the Bison this year, helping pace the country’s 8th ranked offense.
“He manages the game really well. For his age, just like J’Bore, he’s very mature. It doesn’t seem like he gets rattled at all,” SDSU Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said.
SDSU will put Lance’s poise to test on Saturday with their pash rush, which has tallied 16 sacks in its last 3 games, and ranks 9th in the country with 23 on the season.
“You need to be ahead in the game so they have to start throwing the ball, and then you have to get them in 3rd and long. That’s hard to do against North Dakota State because they run the ball very well. So we’re going to have to play really great run defense to have opportunities at sacks,” Stiegelmeier said.
For the Jackrabbit offense, they’ll need to get their 13th ranked rushing attack going against the Bison defense, which has held opponents to less than 86 yards rushing a game.
“Our guys are going to be ready. Their guys are going to be ready. There will be no mental mistakes up front. It’s going to be who wins the physical battle, and we’re going to do everything we can to win that battle,” Stiegelmeier said.
No matter the result, Saturday will certainly be a memorable chapter in the Dakota Marker series.
“I’m super excited for this opportunity, especially with Gameday here,” Johnson said.
“The trophy, the competition, the top 10 rankings, it’s a great game,” Stiegelmeier said.