Game Time: 7:00 p.m. Central | TV: Fox Sports Net | Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
In the past, TCU has opened the season by taking the field opposite of some pretty big names. In 2015 it was Minnesota. In 2013 it was LSU. In 2011, prior to TCU joining the Big 12, they opened the season with Baylor, and in 2010 they opened against Oregon State.
This year doesn't reflect those years, as the premier non-conference matchup takes place in week 2 of the season. Instead, TCU opens with Division 1 FCS foe South Dakota State.
Who is South Dakota State? The Jackrabbits are a member of the Missouri Valley Conference along with the likes of Illinois State, South Dakota, and FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits have made the FCS playoffs each of the past four seasons, and in 2015 they knocked off TCU's Big 12 bunkmate Kansas in Lawrence. The Jackrabbits were also eighth in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing opposing teams to score just 17.3 points per game.
SDSU returns quite a few key pieces to their offense in 2016. The Jackrabbits ground game was a three-headed monster in 2015, as two backs, Brady Mengarelli and Kyle Paris, and QB Taryn Christion all ran for 480+ yards and 5+ touchdowns on the season. All three return this season. Christion split time at QB with junior Zach Lujan, who is also returning this season.
A few other interesting notes:
- Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier is entering his 19th season at the helm, and he carries with him a career 126-88 record.
- South Dakota State was the collegiate home for Adam Vinatieri, as well as more than 30 other NFL players over the years.