BY JEREMY HOECK
If you ask Joe Glenn, records have to be thrown out the window for Saturday’s rivalry game in Brookings.
The football coach at the University of South Dakota is familiar enough with these games — as both a former player and now a third-year head coach for the Coyotes — to know what can happen.
“It makes no difference,” Glenn said during Tuesday’s Missouri Valley teleconference, previewing Saturday’s showdown with South Dakota State. “I’ve seen it both ways. I’ve seen their team not having such a great year and the Coyotes having a great year, and the Jacks win.
“Anything can happen in a State-U game.”
What needs to happen for the Coyotes (2-9, 0-7), at least, is something positive. They’ve lost their last 11 league games dating back to last season, and are in danger of going winless in conference play for the second time in three years.
“In perfect order, number one, we’re looking for a win,” Glenn said. “That’s the most important thing right now for us. We need a win.
“To close our season down with a victory is exactly what we need to springboard us on and give us a little hope.”
Doing so won’t be easy against the No. 16-ranked Jackrabbits (7-4, 4-3), who themselves need a win, but for different reasons — they’re still in the FCS playoff hunt.
That point was again driven home by SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier, who repeated Tuesday that his team is looking forward to the game but has long-term goals.
As to the game with the Coyotes, though, Stiegelmeier said USD’s record probably doesn’t do the team justice.
“They’ve been in position to win games, and coach Glenn’s answered the question, they haven’t gotten it done,” Stiegelmeier said. “It’s not because they’re not a good football team not because they’re not well-coached, it’s the cards they’ve been dealt.”
One of the cards USD will be dealt Saturday will be cold conditions, as the afternoon temperature is forecasted in the mid-30s.
Is the weather a concern?
No, said Glenn, whose team will practice outside all week.
“We’re all guys from Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa or Minnesota, we don’t have many guys that are silver spooners,” he said.
The only concern — a mystery, really — is the field conditions at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, which is always an issue this time of the year.
“It’s hard to tell what kind of footing we’ll have,” said Glenn, who referenced uncertainty about what cleats his players will wear. “It was a mess for last Saturday’s game, we watched that over and over, and thought the Rabbits did a great job maneuvering around on that.”
If there would be an advantage SDSU has, it would be that, Stiegelmeier said: The Jacks played — and won — in those conditions.
“There’s no doubt, the fact that we won on this very field, I think psychologically gets rid of that ‘what if’ type of deal,” he said.
Snow or not, the Coyotes are faced with another psychological battle Saturday: They haven’t won a game played outdoors since 2010.
“I don’t attribute it to anything,” Glenn said. “We don’t win outdoors because we’re not playing good enough, that’s why.”