This year's South Dakota Showdown will be many things: A top-10 clash of teams that are a combined 13-1. A battle for first place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. And, of course, a rivalry.
Reigning champion South Dakota State has been holding steady at No. 1 all season long. There have been tests along the way against Montana State and Southern Illinois, but the Jackrabbits enter Week 9 unblemished and dominant on defense. South Dakota also enters this matchup with a smothering defense. The Coyotes pulled off a huge upset earlier in the season against North Dakota State and were in control throughout.
Jackrabbits first-year coach Jimmy Rogers took over the program from legendary coach John Stiegelmeier and hasn't missed a beat. Coyotes coach Bob Neilson is in his eighth year at the helm and coming off of a 3-8 season in 2022.
This is the 118th meeting between the two programs with the Jackrabbits coming away winners in 15 of the last 18 meetings and holding a 56-54-7 edge in the all-time record book. However, the Coyotes have won two out of the last three meetings and enter with arguably their best team since 2017.
|1. South Dakota State
|The offense sputtered against Southern Illinois and will need to hit the ground running in the South Dakota Showdown against rival South Dakota.
|2. Montana State
|Quarterback Tommy Mellot and running back Julius Davis both rushed for more than 100 yards against Sacramento State, setting up a big game this weekend against Idaho.
|The Blue Hens made quick work of Hampton last weekend and will be on the road again this weekend against Towson. Maintaining focus until Villanova at the end of the season will be key.
|Balanced on offense and good on defense, the Paladins actually look and play like a top-five team in the FCS.
|5. Incarnate Word
|Letting McNeese hang around almost came back to bite the Cardinals. Thankfully, their offense finally got it into gear later in the second half. Battle for first place in the Southland Conference this weekend vs. Lamar.
|6. South Dakota
|The Coyotes defense answered the call against North Dakota State a few weeks ago. Can they pass the test against No. 1 South Dakota State this weekend?
|Coming off of their bye, can the Grizzlies avoid a slip up against Northern Colorado?
|The bad news is the Vandals had two weeks to sit on that loss to Montana. The good news is they had two weeks to prepare for this upcoming Montana State game.
|9. Sacramento State
|The Hornets had problems stopping the run all night against Montana State. Look for them to rectify that issue this week against Idaho State.
|10. North Carolina Central
|Their game against Morgan State was a lot tougher than expected. It was the Eagles defense that stepped up to the plate to help the offense out in a 16-10 win on the road.
|11. UT Martin
|Thanks to running back Sam Franklin's 100-yard effort on the ground, the Skyhawks had just enough offense to knock off Charleston Southern 17-0.
|Jamoi Mayes' one-handed touchdown catch helped the Mocs outrun East Tennessee State 34-3. Only one game out of first place in the SoCon, Chattanooga needs to get past VMI before setting up a battle for the top with Furman in two weeks.
|13. Florida A&M
|It took them awhile, but the Rattlers finally got control against Texas Southern. The Rattlers have been one of the tougher teams in SWAC since joining the conference in 2021, posting a 19-2 conference record.
|What a great win in the pouring rain last weekend against Holy Cross. Quarterback Dean DeNobile's 262-yard passing performance was the difference. Another tough road game awaits as they head to D.C. to take on Georgetown.
|Quietly bubbling under the surface, the Wildcats defense has been dominant this season. Their 21-0 shutout of Elon is the latest evidence.
|16. North Dakota State
|The Bison took their frustration out on Western Illinois last weekend and will look to continue that pace against the Racers of Murray State on Saturday.
|17. Western Carolina
|The Catamounts are on the last leg of the toughest part of this three-game stretch with a game against Mercer this weekend. This could be an at-large elimination game for both teams.
|18. Central Arkansas
|Leaders of the United Athletic Conference, the Bears welcome in Tarleton State this weekend. UCA's offense is led by running back ShunDerrick Powell, who is a joy to watch.
|19. Southern Illinois
|Credit the Salukis defense for showing up against South Dakota State, giving them a chance to win. But the offense couldn't find its footing all game long.
|20. Austin Peay
|It took two overtime periods, but the Governors finally powered past Southern Utah. Austin Peay is looking for its sixth straight win this week against North Alabama.
|Coming off of a bye, the Rams get to take on Holy Cross. This is the type of game you want to see the Fordham defense lead from the front.
|22. William & Mary
|The Tribe have lost three straight games and find themselves in a freefall down the power rankings. More importantly, they're falling down the CAA standings.
|Quarterback Reese Poffenbarger phas been a big reason why the Great Danes are in the thick of the CAA race.
|Coming off of an impressive win over Yale on the road, the Quakers return home on Friday night against the explosive Brown Bears.
|25. Tennessee State
|The Tigers' only FCS loss was a 20-10 defeat to UT Martin. The schedule sets up nicely the rest of the way for coach Eddie George to snatch an at-large bid.