It was a number that sent shock waves throughout the college football world last Saturday (September 15) - South Dakota State's 90-6 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.

It was a record-setting day for the Jackrabbits, who eclipsed five different school milestones in the blowout:

  • Points: 90
  • Total Offense: 926 yards
  • Passing: 557 yards
  • Passing Touchdowns: 8
  • Most Extra Points: 11 (Chase Vinatieri)

The lopsided win also presented SDSU head coach John Stielgemeier with a bittersweet moment afterward -  a satisfying performance by his squad balanced with avoiding any appearance of running up the score against a severely overmatched opponent.

Anyone who knows Stiegelemier is not surprised by his post-game apology to the folks at Arkansas - Pine Bluff. That's the kind of person he is. But despite the gaudy number on the SDSU side of the scoreboard, no apology was necessary for this instance.

Certainly, the Jackrabbits were heavy favorites coming in, and when they scored three touchdowns in their first five offensive plays you had a feeling it was going to be a very long day for the visitors. But this was a Golden Lions team that came into Brookings with the number-two offense in the FCS, with one of the top quarterbacks and wide receivers in the nation. A week earlier they put up 55 points in a win after scoring 30 in their opening week loss.

Those games did come against NAIA and NCAA Division II opponents, but you still figured A-PB would mount some sort of offensive attack in Brookings. However, with quarterback Shannon Patrick watching from the sidelines, that never happened.

Still, after racing out to a 49-6 halftime advantage, Stiegelmeier did the right thing and gave his starters the rest of the day off. That means the 41 points SDSU scored in the second half were courtesy of their second, third, and in some instances, fourth string players.

And it wasn't like they were slinging it down the field against a hapless defense. Two of the second half scores were on screen passes, while the touchdown runs were the result of missed tackles.

And while the second half respite for the Jackrabbit starters will cut down on wear and tear, that inactivity didn't exactly do SDSU any favors. This is a football team that already missed one game because of weather (Iowa State), meaning that the Jackrabbit's number-one players have about six quarters worth of action under their belts heading into a bye week with top-ranked North Dakota State awaiting when the schedule resumes in two weeks.

So when the issue of respect is raised as it relates to the Arkansas - Pine Bluff game, I wonder what other options SDSU had. Simply rolling over offensively in the second half could potentially be perceived as condescending, which comes across as far more disrespectful.

And let's not forget those third and fourth string players who may have been seeing the field for the one and only time in their careers. Is it fair to ask those 18, 19, and 20-year olds to simply 'mail it in' when they get their shot? Keep in mind, these players work just as hard as the first and second stringers in practice each week.

They deserve respect as well, and for that no one should apologize.

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