The Northern Iowa Panthers (3-3, 2-1 away) play their final road game of the spring season against the South Dakota Coyotes (1-3, 0-1 home) in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game on Friday. Northern Iowa took down Western Illinois 34-20 last week, while the Coyotes’ contest against North Dakota State was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols.
Friday night’s kickoff is at 7 p.m/ ET inside the DakotaDome in Vermillion, SD. Northern Iowa is a 10.5-point road favorite, according to the college football odds.
What to Know – Northern Iowa Panthers
Northern Iowa can pick up its second in a row. The Panthers sit in fifth place in the MVFC standings and close out the season at home next Saturday against North Dakota State.
Panthers starting quarterback Will McElvain missed the last two contests due to COVID-19. McElvain, in the four starts before the absence, completed 58-of-114 passes for 750 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The signal-caller is also a threat on his feet, rushing for a pair of touchdowns.
Northern Iowa likes to use multiple backs out of the backfield to showcase a rushing attack that averages 104.3 yards per game. The Panthers’ workhorses are running backs Tyler Hoosman (66 carries, 303 yards, four touchdowns) and Dom Williams (69 carries, 245 yards, two touchdowns).
Five players have tallied over 100 yards receiving for the Panthers, and three have hit over double-digits in receptions. Quan Hampton is the primary target, accounting for 351 yards on 31 receptions. Deion McShane adds 16 catches for 235 yards lining up opposite of Hampton.
While the Panthers offense isn’t going to light up any record books, the Northern Iowa defense has been one of the best throughout the spring. The Panthers are ninth in scoring defense (14.0 points per game) and 17th in total yards (280.5 yards per game).
What to Know – South Dakota Coyotes
South Dakota went winless during March but still has an opportunity to wrap up the spring with a winning record with three games remaining on the schedule. The Coyotes enjoyed an unexpected weekend off after the cancelation of their contest against North Dakota State due to COVID-19 cases within the Bison program. South Dakota sits in seventh in the conference standings.
Carson Camp has started all four games for the Coyotes and played all but two snaps. The true freshman has played decent, completing 82-of-130 of his passes for 967 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
South Dakota’s offense as a whole hasn’t shined this spring, and the running game is part of the problem. The Coyotes average only 80.2 yards per game on the ground. Kai Henry has rushed 63 times for 209 yards and two touchdowns as the Coyotes’ primary back.
Caleb Vander Esch (23 receptions, 273 yards, one touchdown) is one of the main targets for the freshman quarterback. Vander Esch hauled in nine passes for a season-high 102 yards against Youngstown State. If the ball isn’t going to Vander Esch, it’s going to Carter Bell, who has caught 17 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
South Dakota’s defense surrenders 24.5 points and 411.8 yards of offense per game to opponents. The Coyotes have forced five interceptions and two fumbles over their first four games.
The Pick Is in
This contest is going to be a low-scoring college football slugfest. Northern Iowa’s defense is going to present a lot of troubles for South Dakota’s freshman quarterback.
The return of McElvain to the lineup will be a boost to the Panthers’ offense and give Northern Iowa just enough to cover this spread. South Dakota will struggle to hit double-digits in this one.
When making your college football picks, go with Northern Iowa to win and cover in this one.