SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (9-5) at No. 24 MISSOURI (12-2), 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday (ESPNU)
Line: No line.
Series Record: First meeting
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Moving on minus nine players who were in NFL camps this summer and lightly regarded in SEC once again, Missouri gets a warmup game. The defending SEC Eastern champions are picked to finish fourth. The Tigers are 13-0 against FCS competition, the last 10 under coach Gary Pinkel with an average score of 50.5-7.5. South Dakota State reached second round of FCS playoffs last year. The Jackrabbits are ranked 10th in the FCS coaches poll, picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley and playing up for the seventh straight year. They’re 0-6 so far, losing 59-20 at Nebraska in 2013.
Missouri’s unproven wide receivers against the South Dakota State secondary. The top three producers are gone, with Bud Sasser (26 catches) and Jimmie Hunt (22) the top returning targets for Maty Mauk, who was 3-1 as stand-in starter last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South Dakota State: RB Zach Zenner has rushed for 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons. He’s the second player in FCS to do that and needs 218 yards in senior season to become Missouri Valley career leader.
Missouri: TB Russell Hansbrough gets first starting shot after gaining 685 yards with 4 TDs as backup. DE Markus Golden had 61-2 sacks last season.
FACTS & FIGURES
Both schools tied school record for victories last year. Missouri won SEC Eastern Division and South Dakota State was second in Missouri Valley. … South Dakota State coach John Stiegelemeyer has 118 wins entering 18th season, two shy of the school career mark. … Jackrabbits are 4-6 in openers since moving up from Division II to FCS in 2004. … Pinkel has 102 wins, most in school history, entering 14th season.
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