SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USFCougars.com) – After four NCAA DII playoff appearances in five seasons, the University of Sioux Falls Football Team has been ranked No. 23 in the 2020 College Football America Yearbook Division II Preseason Top-30.
USF, directed by fourth-year Head Coach Jon Anderson (24-11), is scheduled to open the 2020 campaign at Minot State on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 pm.
The Cougars are scheduled to begin their home campaign against Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1 pm at Bob Young Field at the USF Sports Complex. USF is also set to host Augustana at 1 pm, on Saturday Oct. 3 in the Cougars Day/Hall of Fame game. Other home games on the schedule include U-Mary at 1 pm on Saturday, Oct. 17, Winona State at 1 pm on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Bemidji State at 1 pm on Saturday Nov. 14. Aside from traveling to Minot State in game one, the Cougars have road games scheduled for Northern State at 2:30 pm; Southwest Minnesota State at 5 pm on Saturday, Oct. 10; Minnesota State at 1 pm on Saturday, Oct. 31; and Wayne State at 1 pm on Nov. 7.
A year ago, USF Football, which received votes in the final AFCA Poll, was tied for third overall (8-3) in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in 2019. USF finished at 8-4 after a last second 24-21 road loss in the NCAA DII playoffs at nationally-ranked Colorado Mines. USF qualified for the DII playoffs for the fourth time at the DII level (since 2012) and extended their consecutive season winning streak to 26 years, which ranks fourth best across all divisions of NCAA.
Heading into 2020, the Cougars return 44 letter winners and 18 starters (eight on defense, seven on offense plus two kickers and deep snapper). Among USF’s returners will be five-time All-American and senior Gabriel Watson, who led the nation in three rushing categories in 2018 but missed nearly all of 2019 due to injury.
USF returns three running backs with 500 more yards returning, including two which have totaled over 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Watson, who averaged 177.9 yards per game (1st NCAA, 2018), had 1,957 yards with an NCAA DII-best 26 TDs in 2018 when he was named the NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, the D2 CCA Super Region 4 Offensive Player of the Year and the Don Hansen Super Region Four Offensive Player of the Year while being a Harlon Hill Award finalist (5th in votes) in 2018. He was first team All-NSIC and selected to the Don Hansen, D2Football.com, AFCA Associated Press and D2 Conference Commissioner’s Association All-American teams.
Thuro Reisdorfer, who was a second team All-NSIC selection in 2019, had 1,150 rushing yards when he had 19 TDs, including 13 by rushing. Reisdorfer had a 80-yard kickoff return for a TD as well as a 98-yard TD run, which set an all-time record at the school for longest TD run. Sophomore Ja’Tai Jenkins had 105 carries for 579 yards rushing with four TDs, also in 2019.
The Cougars will also return 15 starters or 82 percent of the starting lineup of offense and defense and 18 overall. For the second time in three seasons, the Cougars had one of the nation’s top defenses as they ranked fifth in DII with a 260.7 yards per game allowed. With eight starters back, including second team All-NSIC linebacker Harvey Enalls and 2018 first team All-NSIC and HM All-American Hakeem Johnson, the Cougars should again field one of the top units in the NSIC and in DII.
USF was fifth in the final DII rankings in passing efficiency defense at 94.15. With 19 interceptions, USF ranked 10th in DII, and finished 16th against the rush (98.8 yards) in DII. USF’s offense averaged 427.6 yards per game, which ranked third in the NSIC. Interestingly, the Cougars, which averaged 35.3 points per game (2nd in the NSIC), had a near 50-50 balance on offense with 213.8 rushing yards (2nd, NSIC) and 211.4 passing (9th, NSIC) per game.
2020 College Football America Yearbook Division II Preseason Top-30
1. Minnesota State
2. West Florida
3. Valdosta State
4. Ferris State
5. Slippery Rock
7. Notre Dame (OH)
8. Colorado Mines
9. Northwest Missouri State
10. Texas A&M-Commerce
12. Ouachita Baptist
13. Central Missouri
18. Bowie State
20. Indiana (PA)
21. Truman State
22. Henderson State
23. Sioux Falls
24. Missouri Western
26. West Chester
29. Augustana (SD)