AMES — Iowa State’s football team has its hands full once again with its Week 1 FCS opponent.
South Dakota State went 11-3 last season, and reached the FCS semifinals. The Jackrabbits lost 12 key contributors, including tight end Dallas Goedert, who was taken in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
But South Dakota State is an FCS program that reloads, not rebuilds.
Here are five things Iowa State fans need to know before Saturday’s showdown in Jack Trice Stadium.
1. Coaching stability
John Stiegelmeier has been SDSU’s head football coach for more than two decades, starting in 1998. He’s been at SDSU longer than Iowa State’s old friend Kirk Ferentz has been at Iowa and just as long as the longest tenured FBS coach, Gary Patterson of TCU, who is a newer friend of Iowa State’s.
Stiegelmeier is entering his 22nd season as coach of the Jackrabbits and has amassed a 148-97 record. His teams have reached the FCS playoffs the last six seasons and seven times total.
The 61-year-old Stiegelmeier hasn’t had any trouble adapting to new college football spread offenses. Last season, South Dakota State averaged 37 points per game, passed for more than 3,600 yards and threw 35 touchdowns.
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2. 2 words: Taryn Christion
Christion is SDSU’s quarterback and has surpassed 3,000 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns each of the last two seasons. The senior already is the Jackrabbits’ most prolific quarterback in school history.
He lost his No. 1 and No. 2 targets in Goedert and receiver Jake Wieneke, so Christion will look for another player to step up.
But he isn’t just a threat through the air. Christion ran for 701 yards and nine touchdowns last season. In his career, he has 1,182 rushing yards.
Since his freshman season, Christion has accounted for 93 total touchdowns — including a receiving touchdown his sophomore year.
3. Christian Rozeboom leads the defense
Rozeboom, a junior linebacker, led South Dakota State in tackles the last two seasons. Last season, he garnered FCS All-America honors while recording 127 tackles. He recorded 10 or more tackles in seven games.
He also had 7.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and a blocked kick.
The Sioux Center native is everywhere for South Dakota State.
Speaking of Iowans, South Dakota State has 11 on its team, including Iowa transfer Brandon Snyder.
Snyder was Iowa’s starting safety in 2016 when he recorded 85 tackles and led the team in forced fumbles with three.
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But after an injury, he only played one game for the Hawkeyes in 2017 before he was sidelined again by injury. He recorded just three tackles but did have an interception return for a touchdown against Illinois.
South Dakota State will hope Snyder can bring some of that 2016 play with him to Brookings, S.D.
4. Another Vinatieri
Adam Vinatieri, whose NFL career began before some current NFL players were born, once kicked at SDSU — before Stiegelmeier was even the head coach — back when the Jackrabbits were a Division II program.
Long story short, Vinatieri is old, but he has a nephew. His nephew’s name is Chase Vinatieri, who also is very good at kicking footballs and also attends South Dakota State.
Chase set South Dakota State’s record for extra points made with 58. He also went 13 for 14 in field goals last season with a long of 55 yards.
5. Fun facts
• South Dakota State was a school before South Dakota was a state. Dakota Agriculture College — later renamed to South Dakota State — was founded in 1881, while South Dakota didn’t become a state until 1889.
• SDSU’s most notable alumni mostly include politicians. U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, U.S. Representive Kristi Noem and former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate Tom Daschle all received their degrees from SDSU.
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