Bison, SDSU bring opposite styles of offense to Dakota Marker game
FARGO — The weather forecast for Brookings, S.D., on Saturday, Nov. 4, calls for temperatures in the 40s with the potential for rain or freezing rain early in the day.
No. 2-ranked North Dakota State probably wouldn’t mind temperatures in the 20s and blowing snow.
No. 8-ranked South Dakota State, meanwhile, would probably benefit from a calm day with temps closer to 50 than 20. It’s a safe bet that never in the history of the Division I FCS series have these teams been so opposite in styles — NDSU with the ball-control, power-based West Coast offense and SDSU in the wide-open, throw-it-whenever attack led by a trio of high-accolade performers in quarterback Taryn Christion, tight end Dallas Goedert and receiver Jake Wieneke.
There are no secrets to either team’s game plan.
It was windy earlier this week when Bison head coach Chris Klieman took to the podium for his weekly press conference.
“I wish it were a game like today that we would play,” he said. “Get a 30 mile-per-hour wind and cold, that would probably benefit us.”
That was part of the blueprint that Northern Iowa used to defeat SDSU 38-18 earlier this year in Brookings. The elements were lousy with rain and wind.
For the Bison, the hope is to limit the number of plays by the Jackrabbits offense. SDSU ran more than 80 in a regular season victory in Fargo. It was less than 50 when the Bison won the quarterfinal FCS playoff game.
“That’s the formula to try and slow these guys down,” Klieman said. “There’s no secret to the plan, you try to keep their offense on the sideline and you try to have your offense out there. That’s nothing new. … We want to run the football. It’s going to be a tale of who can stay on the field the longest.”
Ironically, it’s the way SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier molded his team over the years. The Jackrabbits made a living on tough running backs like Josh Ranek, Kyle Minett and Zach Zenner, although Zenner also possessed the elite breakaway speed.
“I’m a two tight-end, one-back, run-the-ball, play-action pass guy — that’s my nature,” Stiegelmeier said.
He changed his thinking when Goedert, a lightly recruited tight end, developed into one of the premier players in the FCS at his position. Wieneke’s career statistics speak for themselves with 260 receptions for 4,671 yards and 54 touchdowns. He’s third all-time in the FCS in TD catches and fourth in receiving yardage.
“When you have a Wieneke and Goedert, in a sense you might be wasting them a bit,” Stiegelmeier said of changing his philosophy. “It wasn’t hard, but it was different to evolve.”
Stiegelmeier doesn’t think weather will play a factor Saturday. Last Saturday, it was 38 degrees at kickoff when SDSU played at Western Illinois, a game the Jacks won 52-24.
“It didn’t seem to affect our game,” he said.