FCS Playoff Preview: NDSU vs South Dakota St.
The Bison look to advance and avenge the lone blemish on their 11-1 record by beating South Dakota State, but no one is saying it'll be easy.
Back on October 15, South Dakota State (9-3) handed NDSU its only loss, 19-17, on a 2-yard touchdown with :01 remaining on the clock. The Missouri Valley Co-Champs will meet once again, with the winner advancing to the semifinals in the 2016 FCS Playoffs.
The 8th seeded Jackrabbits are led by quarterback Taryn Christion, who was also the MVFC's Offensive Player of the Year. Christion has completed 266 of 417 passes on the season for 3,559 yards, 30 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, while also rushing for 351 yards and 6 touchdowns. His two main targets are tight end Dallas Goedert (86 receptions, 1,238 yards, 11 TDs) and wide receiver Jake Wieneke (73 receptions, 1,241 yards, 16 TDs), which is not an easy tandem to defend.
If any team is up to that task, it's most certainly top-seeded NDSU. We've seen the Bison be tough all year on defense, as we saw last week against San Diego. Linebacker MJ Stumpf may be a huge piece of the puzzle in this game, as he was when he ran back an interception 40 yards against San Diego for the opening score. But this matchup may need to be won on the offensive side of the ball. Led by quarterback Easton Stick (138 of 229, 1,927 yards, 18 TDs, 8 INTs; 88 carries, 581 yards, 5 TDs) and running back Lance Dunn (143 carries, 849 yards, 5 TDs), their offense will need scores to counter any crooked numbers SDSU can muster.
The Bison are 17-0 at the Fargodome in FCS playoff games and have won 82 Division-I games since the start of the 2011 season (their first national title year). On paper, the home-field should be a big advantage for NDSU, and you know the Jackrabbits will have to deal with plenty of noise at inside the dome.
Kickoff at the Fargodome is 11 a.m. on Saturday and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN. The winner will play whoever advances from Sam Houston State vs. James Madison the following weekend.