VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — The USD football team begins conference play after wrapping up its bye week. The Coyotes will be tested as they hit the road to play second-ranked North Dakota State.
The Coyotes used the bye week as an opportunity to reset ahead of conference play this week.
“We used the bye week in a couple of regards: to keep building,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said. “You have to keep getting better whether you’re playing a game or not on Saturday. I think that’s a big thing. So, we did a fair amount of work offensively and defensively against each other.”
USD won their final two non-conference games by a total score of 59-6, but now they leave the friendly confines of the DakotaDome for the hostile environment of the Fargodome where USD will try to snap a six-game losing streak to the Bison.
“We’re going to have to play really well defensively,” Nielson said. “We understand that they’re going to test us differently than what we’ve been tested the last couple of weeks.”
USD has scored just two total touchdowns in the first halves of their first three games. The Coyotes will be squaring off against an NDSU squad that ranks third in the FCS in turnover margin and has stopped opponents almost 3-quarters of the time on third down.
“We’re going to play one of the best defensive teams in the country, not just in the conference in the country,” Nielson said. “We’ve got to find a way to move the ball with consistency and find a way to possess it. I do think they’re going to test, you know, much different way than what we were tested.”
The Yotes have won four of their last six conference openers. They are matching up against the Bison, who have won nine FCS titles in the last dozen years and have established themselves at the top of the FCS.
“Our guys understand the challenge at hand, the challenge of the Valley schedule, the challenge of playing one of the premier teams in the country,” Nielson said.
USD will travel up to Fargo for the showdown with NDSU Saturday at 1 p.m.