VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota will host Western Illinois inside the Dakota Dome on Friday, Feb. 19, to begin an eight-game conference season the Missouri Valley Football Conference announced Thursday.
The Coyotes’ schedule begins with back-to-back Friday contests with Western Illinois followed by Northern Iowa (Feb. 26). The team’s first road trip occurs in week three and will be to Grand Forks, North Dakota, for a Thursday bout with MVFC newcomer and former NCC foe North Dakota (March 4).
“I’m really excited for our guys to have the opportunity to play a full conference schedule and the chance to compete for a national championship,” said USD head coach Bob Nielson. “The opportunity to open at home with our new renovation is great, and the Friday night experience will be something that is truly unique for our fans and something our football team will remember from their high school days.”
The season includes four home games and four road games. The opponents are unchanged from the eight USD was set to face in its previously announced fall schedule. The opening game is set exactly five months from when USD was slated to host Missouri State on Sept. 19 for its 2020 home opener.
The MVFC canceled its fall season back on Aug. 7 when it learned that the FCS failed to meet the minimum number of teams required to hold a fall championship. The Valley joined other conferences in asking the NCAA to conduct a spring championship, which the NCAA has granted.
The NCAA is reducing the playoff field from 24 teams to 16 for this spring slate with the championship game to take place the weekend of May 15 in Frisco, Texas. The 16 playoff qualifiers will comprise of 11 automatic qualifiers, including one from the MVFC, and five teams granted at-large bids. The bracket will be announced on April 18.
South Dakota’s 2021 MVFC Schedule
Date Opponent Location Last Year
Feb. 19 (Fri.) Western Illinois Vermillion, S.D. L, 34-38 at WIU
Feb. 26 (Fri.) UNI Vermillion, S.D. L, 27-42 at UNI
Mar. 4 (Thurs.) at North Dakota Grand Forks, N.D. DNP
Mar. 13 at Indiana State Terre Haute, Ind. W, 38-0 at USD
Mar. 20 North Dakota State Vermillion, S.D. L, 14-49 at NDSU
Mar. 27 at Illinois State Normal, Ill. DNP
Apr. 3 Missouri State Vermillion, S.D. W, 45-10 at MSU
Apr. 10 at South Dakota State Brookings, S.D. W, 24-21 at USD
Apr. 17 Bye
Apr. 24 First Round FCS Playoffs (Field of 16)
May 1 FCS Playoff Quarterfinals
May 8 FCS Playoff Semifinals
May 14, 15, or 16 FCS Playoff Championship Frisco, Texas (Toyota Stadium)