VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) – Boasting just one senior on its starting offense, South Dakota football has opened eyes around the FCS this season. The Coyotes climbed to No. 5 in this week’s Stats Perform FCS Poll following another top-25 win over North Dakota last Saturday.

It’s been a season to remember for the Coyotes, winning 8 regular season games for the first time at the FCS level and first time overall since 2006. The defense has been stifling in 2023, holding 5 of 9 FCS opponents to 7 points or less while the offense has scored 14 points or more in all of their wins.

That said, the team has kept in the race for a share of its first Missouri Valley Conference title, as well as a chance at its first ever top-8 seed in the FCS playoffs with a win this Saturday. That would grant a 1st-round bye and a home game in the Round of 16. It’s a position in which head coach Bob Nielson says is a fun place to be.

“We’re excited, it’s an opportunity to close the regular season schedule and accomplish a lot of goals that this team set for the start,” USD head coach Bob Nielson said. “You always wanna be in that situation where the last game of the season means a tremendous amount and it does for our club. A chance to contend for a conference title and get into the playoffs. A chance to get into the playoffs with potential home field opportunity. Like always a game in the valley on the road is gonna be a challenge.”

USD visits Western Illinois for its regular season finale at 1:00pm on Nov. 18.