VERMILLION, S.D. | As entertaining as it was watching South Dakota score at will in a 77-7 bombing of Drake last week, don’t expect the same on Saturday at Bowling Green.
The Coyotes are facing an FBS opponent for the 10th time since 2010, which is a year marked in infamy by a 41-38 upset at Minnesota. Kickoff at Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio, is 5 p.m. (central time).
“They’re a big physical football team, which you expect out of an FBS team,” South Dakota Coach Bob Nielson said. “We’re going to have to battle them at the line of scrimmage on both sides. They’re a team that developed under their new system and really came on at the end of the year by being balanced offensively.
“So when you’re playing a balanced offensive team you have to find a way to contain their running game enough that you can make them one dimensional. That will be the challenge for us on that side of the football, they’ve got some real talented skill players so you have to be careful that you don’t commit too many people on the run and create mismatches on the perimeter.”
South Dakota stymied Drake to the tune of minus-7 yards rushing and forced four turnovers. Phillip Powell intercepted two passes, returning one for a 9-yard touchdown, while sophomore defensive end Darin Greenfield (Sheldon, Iowa) registered three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, the most for a Coyote since the NCAA began tracking the stat in 2000.
Bowling Green lost its season opener to Big Ten power Michigan State 35-10, scoring its only touchdown on a fumble return early in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore quarterback James Morgan passed for 2,082 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman when the Falcons won their final three games to finish 4-8 under first-year Coach Mike Jinks.
Michigan State outgained Bowling Green 465-212 as Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke passed for 250 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 69 yards.
South Dakota senior quarterback Chris Streveler was magnificent against Drake, passing for five touchdowns and running for another in the first half. Streveler didn’t play the rest of the game but didn’t have to because the Coyotes had already amassed 400 yards and mounted a 56-7 lead.
USD scored on seven of its first eight possessions and added three more touchdowns in the second half with Austin Simmons at quarterback. Five different receivers caught touchdown passes, including Alonge Brooks, who hauled one in from both Streveler and Simmons.
“Offensively we’re going to have to execute at an even higher level,” Nielson said. “I think we can improve up front with some of our blocking and we have to be able to run the ball well enough that we can create some opportunities for our guys in the passing game.
“It’s going to be a real challenge for us. We’re going to play a team that has some of the best personnel across the board as anybody we’ll play this year.”
This is USD’s first game ever against Bowling Green and its first against a team from the Mid-American Conference.