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No. 1 Bison set to face a prolific South Dakota State offense for the Dakota Marker

FARGO -- If No. 1-ranked North Dakota State wants to keep the 75-pound Dakota Marker trophy in Fargo, the Bison need to contain the highest-scoring offense in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Sep 3, 2016; Pullman, WA, USA; Eastern Washington Eagles quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) celebrates a touchdown against the against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Eagles won 45-42. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; South Dakota State Jackrabbits quarterback Taryn Christion (3) throws under pressure by TCU Horned Frogs defensive tackle Aaron Curry (95) during the second half on an NCAA football game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU won 59-41. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

FARGO - If No. 1-ranked North Dakota State wants to keep the 75-pound Dakota Marker trophy in Fargo, the Bison need to contain the highest-scoring offense in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

No. 14-ranked South Dakota State is averaging 45 points per game entering Saturday's rivalry game against the Bison at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. Jackrabbits sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion leads the conference in total offense.

"He does it all and he's playing with a lot of confidence, and they're putting a lot of points on the board," Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. "What I'm so impressed with is how well he throws the deep ball. He has tremendous accuracy and tremendous loft on the ball. He puts it in position for his playmakers to go make plays."

The Jackrabbits (3-2, 2-0 MVFC) have two of the top playmakers in the conference. Junior wide receiver Jake Wieneke and junior tight end Dallas Goedert are each averaging more than 100 receiving yards per game. Wieneke has 10 touchdown catches in five games and Goedert (who also has a rushing touchdown) is right behind with eight TD receptions.

The dynamic receiving duo ranks first and second in the MVFC in scoring.

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"One and 1A in reality," Klieman said. "A great complement to each other and that's where you have to be careful. He's (Goedert) made them pay with people that go double Wieneke because he's an unbelievably talented, fast athlete that's running down and playing the conventional tight end as well as the flex."

Christion adds a dual-threat element to the offense with his ability to create big plays with his feet if needed. That makes it tough on a defense, Klieman said, because you can't just sit back and play pass coverage and double-cover players like Wieneke and Goedert.

"He will beat you with his legs," Klieman said of Christion. "What makes offenses across college football so good right now is if you have a (quarterback) that can do both. They all have the dual-threat guy."

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Christion is completing 68 percent of his passes and leads the MVFC with 327.2 passing yards per game. Christion has thrown 20 touchdowns against one interception through five games.

"Both teams are perennial playoff teams," Klieman said. "It's fun to play."

Klieman said every year there is a "big emphasis" to keep the Dakota Marker in Fargo.

"When you've had it like we've had it for awhile, it makes it even tougher," Klieman said. "There's no question that they want that down in Brookings, and we want to keep it here."

The Bison (5-0, 2-0) have won the previous six Marker games and have won the past eight meetings with the Jackrabbits.

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Klieman had an emotional opening statement at Monday's weekly news conference, talking about senior running back Chase Morlock, who didn't make the trip to Missouri State last Saturday to stay home with his family. Paul Morlock, Chase's father, died Saturday at age 52 after a battle with colorectal cancer.

Klieman said the team is going to be there to support Chase and his family. Klieman added Chase will decide whether or not he's ready to play against South Dakota State.

"I told him football would be here for him whenever he wanted to come back," Klieman said.

South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion averages 327 yards passing per game this season. Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; South Dakota State Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier (left) and TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson (right) talk before an NCAA football game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Related Topics: FOOTBALLNORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITYCHRIS KLIEMAN
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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