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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | October 14, 2021

No. 21 South Dakota takes on No. 17 Northern Iowa in Week 7's FCS game of the Week

Sam Houston defeats South Dakota State 23-21 to win first FCS title

After last week’s game of the week came down to an exciting overtime finish, you don’t want to miss what Week 7 has in store.

Week 7 FCS game of the week:

No. 21 South Dakota at No. 17 Northern Iowa | 5 p.m. | ESPN+

South Dakota is back in the rankings this week after knocking off then-No. 15 North Dakota. This week, the Coyotes will attempt to defeat a ranked Missouri Valley Football Conference opponent in consecutive weeks. Expect the South Dakota offense to come out firing; they've outscored FCS opponents 125-31 in the first half this season. Watch out for a running back committee led by RB Travis Theis. Theis is one of three Coyotes running backs to rush for over 100 yards in the last four games. The South Dakota backfield has the potential to take over this game.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest FCS rankings

Defense is a big reason why South Dakota is off to a 4-2 start. The Coyotes have the tenth-best rushing defense in the FCS, allowing just 87.5 rushing yards per game. Led by preseason All-American LB Jack Cochrane, South Dakota’s defense is one of two (Chattanooga) that have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this fall. However, the Coyotes will be missing CB Myles Harden after he suffered an injury last week. Look for S Elijah Reed to step up and help an ailing secondary.

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Northern Iowa’s offense is powered by arguably the top 2022 NFL prospect at the FCS level, left tackle Trevor Penning. Standing at 6’7’’ and 340 pounds, Penning is a dominating force on the Panther offensive line. Having Penning should make life easier for QB Theo Day who’s expected to start this week under center after taking over in the second half last week. Day, a Michigan State transfer, won’t enter the lineup without help; he’ll have a big-play threat, WR Isaiah Weston, on the outside. Weston is coming off a 181-yard performance last week and leads the conference in yards per catch. UNI might call Weston’s number more frequently in Week 7 against a tough South Dakota defense.

UNI has the ninth-best scoring defense in the country, allowing just 15.20 points per game. Coming off of a loss, the Panther defense will look to return to its winning ways led by LB Spencer Cuvelier. Cuvelier is a part of a defense that returned all of its starters this year and has forced eight interceptions while recovering seven fumbles. After allowing 34 points last week, the highest this season, UNI’s defense will try to bounce back against another ranked opponent.

LEADERS: See every FCS statistical leader

UNI has won the last three meetings against South Dakota, but the Coyotes are surging in the right direction. This week’s game should be another tightly-contested MVFC battle.

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