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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | September 22, 2022

No. 3 South Dakota State meets No. 4 Missouri State in a top-5 matchup for Week 4's FCS game of the week

FCS football season preview: Players to watch, potential upsets and more

Week 4 features three ranked vs. ranked FCS top 25 matchups, but a battle between two of the Missouri Valley Football Conference's best teams takes center stage when No. 3 South Dakota State heads to Springfield to take on No. 4 Missouri State in this week's FCS game of the week.

The Jackrabbits and Bears get the game of the week nod, not only because it is the matchup of the two highest ranked teams, but also because of the intriguing storylines stemming from this Week 4 matchup.

RANKINGS: See the latest FCS Coaches Poll

Find out everything you need to know below.

Week 4 FCS game of the week 

No. 3 South Dakota State at No. 4 Missouri State | Saturday, Sept. 24 | 3 p.m. ET | ESPN3

Here are 10 anecdotes about Week 4's game of the week:

  • Missouri State enters Week 4 with its highest ranking ever received in any coaches poll.
  • Week 4's matchup is the top ranked vs. ranked meeting
  • The only other time Missouri State was ranked in the top five and played against another top-five opponent was Oct. 19, 1996. No. 5 Missouri State lost to No. 4 Northern Iowa on the road 38-31.
  • Missouri State is 1-31 all-time against top-five opponents. The one win came in 1996 when the Bears picked up a road victory over No. 3 McNeese State 12-7.
  • Week 4's matchup between No. 3 and No. 4 marks the highest-ranked matchup between two teams in Missouri State home-game history.
  • Both teams enter the game with a 2-1 record, with each team's loss coming to an FBS opponent.
  • South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier will coach in his 300th game in the role with the Jackrabbits.
  • Missouri State head coach Bobby Petrino has never coached against the Jackrabbits.
  • South Dakota State is 11-1 all-time against Missouri State, winning the last meeting in 2019, 35-14.
  • Missouri State's lone win against South Dakota State came in 2013, 35-21.

QUARTERBACKS: See Week 4's top 10 FCS quarterback rankings

Analyzing the teams

jackrabbits

South Dakota State enters Week 4 off its best offensive performance of the season after struggling early on, led by quarterback Mark Gronowski. He threw for 278 yards, ran for 55 yards and scored four total touchdowns, marking his best performance since returning from injury. Twin wide receivers Jadon and Jaxon Janke caught two of Gronowski's touchdown passes; it was the fifth time the duo scored in the same game. Together, the Janke twins pose outside threats to an offense without elite tight end Tucker Kraft. On the ground, South Dakota State has dynamic running back Isaiah Davis, who averages 4.4 yards per carry, but has yet to pop off for a big gain this season.

QB-WR: The top 5 quarterback-wide receiver duos in FCS football, so far

The star of South Dakota State's defense is linebacker Adam Bock Jr. He leads a Jackrabbit defense that ranks fifth in total defense among teams that have played at least three games. The Jackrabbits have found success despite their secondary dealing with injury issues early in the season. However, one of the best ways to help pass coverage is with a good pass rush. South Dakota State will try to improve its pass rush — only two sacks in three games — against a Missouri State team that has allowed 17 sacks this season.

UPSETS: See every FCS-over-FBS win 

Missouri State

Missouri State enters Week 4 with just five players that have played South Dakota State in their careers. One player who will meet the Jackrabbits for the first time is quarterback Jason Shelley. Shelley is one of the best quarterbacks in the FCS and already has 920 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns. He's also displayed impressive escapability with two rushing touchdowns. Yet, Shelley isn't the only weapon on Missouri State's offense; wide receiver Tyrone Scott is a big-play threat, using his 6-foot-3 frame to come up with catches down the field. The explosive Bears offense is a big reason they already own a top-15 FCS win over UT Martin and pushed FBS top-10 team Arkansas to the wire. 

HBCU POWER RANKINGS: Undefeated start boosts North Carolina Central 

Missouri State's defense allows 455.7 total yards per game. The Bears will try to cut that number down in Week 4 with a squad that features all-conference performers like defensive end Kevin Ellis and cornerback Montrae Braswell. Braswell also contributes on special teams, already returning a kickoff for a touchdown this year. Missouri State's most important player may also be on special teams as All-American punter Grant Burkett is coming off a game where he punted a 64-yarder. Burkett could change the field position game against South Dakota State, and we all saw how that worked out when the Jackrabbits played Iowa.

MOVEMENT: Making sense of FCS conference realignment

No. 4 Missouri State and No. 3 South Dakota State will be playing in a top-five matchup that will give a team a leg up in the MVFC title race early in the season. Both teams will see how they stack up against the nation's best.

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