FCS Championship Preview: Computer Favors Jackrabbits over Bison

January 8, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

(NOTE: The following article was originally published December 18.)

North Dakota State and South Dakota State, two schools that are Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) rivals, will meet in the FCS Championship game at 2 p.m. (eastern time) on Sunday, January 8 in Frisco, Texas. It will be televised on ABC.

The Congrove Computer Rankings favor the Jackrabbits by 3.12. Betting lines at the sportsbooks opened at 3.5 in favor of the SDSU and moved as high as 5.5 midweek before the game. On game day morning, the spread was mostly found at -5.

The Dakota Marker series has been played 113 times with the Bison holding a 63-45-5 advantage. However, the Jackrabbits have a 5-4 advantage since 2016, including a current 3-game streak with wins in the Spring and Fall of 2021, and in the regular season this year. This season's game was played in Fargo on October 15 with SDSU prevailing 23-21.

They have faced each other four times in earlier rounds of the FCS Playoffs, but never in the championship game.

The NCAA only began staging the FCS Playoffs in 1978 when the division was called "1-AA". Playoffs at the D2 and D3 levels began in 1973.

North Dakota State is 9-0 in previous FCS Championship game appearances, and was 5-2 in championship games at the D2 level.

South Dakota State's only previous championship game was a 23-21 loss to Sam Houston State in the extended Covid season of Fall 2020/Spring 2021.

The Jackrabbits have the more balanced attack of these two teams with 52% (198.3) of their 375.9 yards per game coming through the air. Conversely, the Bison passing game has only generated 31.33% of their 398 total average.

The Bison rank 8th in total defense, but that's a bit deceiving as they rank far better against the pass (5th) than they do against the run (45th). South Dakota State is 1st at stopping the run and 12th in pass defense.

That said, when the schools met in October, they were statistically pretty even.

Stats Head-to-head October 15, 2022 (SDSU 23, NDSU 21)

Team Stats SDSU NDSU
1st Downs 18 17
3rd down efficiency 7-13 4-10
4th down efficiency 0-0 1-2
Total Yards 359 354
Passing 152 227
Comp-Att 16-21 17-23
Yards per pass 7.2 9.9
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Rushing 207 127
Rushing Attempts 37 29
Yards per rush 5.6 4.4
Penalties 7-40 5-57
Turnovers 0 1
Fumbles lost 0 0
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Possession 34:35 25:25

SEE: Schedule Picks and Scores

Semifinal Results

One half of the FCS National Championship game was determined on Friday night (December 16) when North Dakota State downed UIW 35-32 in the FargoDome.

The 7-seed Cardinals jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first 7:27, but were held scoreless until the 7:05 mark of the 3rd quarter while 3-seed North Dakota State clawed back and took a 24-16 lead. UIW got consecutive TD's to take a 29-24 advantage into the final period. After exchanging field goals, the Bison tallied what proved to be the game's final points on Kobe John's 31-yard TD run with 8:11 still to play. The Cardinals turned the ball over on downs at the NDSU 22, and a final possession ended with the interception of an attempted 50-yard pass at the Bison 18.

North Dakota State won the turnover battle 4-0 as The Word lost two fumbles and had two passes picked off.

It was the final game for UIW head coach G.J. Kinne who now slides into his position as the head coach of FBS member Texas State in nearby San Marcos. Clint Killough, who served as Kinne's AHC, takes the reins at UIW.

North Dakota State's opponent was determined on Saturday (December 17) when 1-seed South Dakota State dropped 4-seed Montana State with relative ease 39-18. The victory for the Jackrabbits avenged last year's 31-17 semifinal loss to the Bobcats in Bozeman as Montana State went on to face the Bison and lose 38-10. Eight months earlier, in May of 2021, South Dakota State faced Sam Houston State in the FCS Champion ship game and lost 23-21.

NCAA Playoffs Championship

Sunday, January 8
at Frisco, Texas
ABC 2 p.m. (3) North Dakota State (NDSU) vs. (1) South Dakota State (SDSU)

First Round (Non-seeded Teams)

All games played November 26. Home team in CAPS
DELAWARE 56, St. Francis (Pa.) 17
NEW HAMPSHIRE 52, Fordham 42
Gardner-Webb 52, EASTERN KENTUCKY 41
WEBER STATE 38, North Dakota 21
MONTANA 34, Southeast Missouri 24
SE LOUISIANA 45, Idaho 42
FURMAN 31, Elon 6
RICHMOND 41, Davidson 0


Home team on bottom.

12/3 12/9-10 12/16-17 C'ship (Frisco)
(1/8, 2 PM)
Delaware 6
1 SDSU 42
  8 Holy Cross 21
1 SDSU 42
New Hampshire 19
8 Holy Cross 35
    4 Montana St 18
1 SDSU 39
Gardner-Webb 14
5 Wm. & Mary 54
  5 Wm. & Mary 7
4 Montana St 55
Weber State 25
4 Montana St 33
      3 NDSU
Montana 26
3 NDSU 49
  6 Samford 9
3 NDSU 27
SE Louisiana 42
6 Samford 48 (OT)
    7 UIW 32
3 NDSU 35
Furman 38
7 UIW 41
  7 UIW 66
2 Sacramento 63
Richmond 31
2 Sacramento 38


The FBS was 112-8 (.933) vs. the FCS this year, and is now 1,686-148 (.919) since we began tracking this in 2003.

116 of the 131 FBS schools played at least one such game while Appalachian State, Army, Marshall and New Mexico State each played two.

Here are the FCS wins in 2022:
September 2: William & Mary 41, Charlotte 24
September 3: Delaware14, Navy 7
September 10: Weber State 35, Utah State 7
September 10: Incarnate Word 55, Nevada 41
September 10: Holy Cross 37, Buffalo 31
September 10: Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57 (7 OT's)
September 17: Southern Illinois 31, Northwestern 24
September 24: Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10

Streaks - Current FCS Longest

HOLY CROSS - Had won 12 straight over-all.
Last: FCS Playoff 8-seed lost 42-21 at 1-seed South Dakota State on Saturday, December 10.
Next: Season complete

SACRAMENTO STATE  - Had won 12 straight over-all. Won 19 straight conference games. Won 10 straight road games.
Last: FCS Playoff 2-seed lost 66-63 at home to 7-seed UIW on Friday, December 9.
Next: Season complete.

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE - Won 12 straight over-all
Last: FCS Playoff 1-seed won 39-18 at home over 4-seed Montana State on Saturday, December 17.
Next: Plays North Dakota State in FCS Championship game on Sunday, January 8 at 2 p.m.

MONTANA STATE - Won 20 straight home games.
Last: FCS Playoff 4-seed lost 39-18 at 1-seed South Dakota State on Saturday, December 17.
Next: Season complete

WESTERN ILLINOIS - Lost 13 straight over-all.
Last: Lost 20-13 in OT at Illinois State on Saturday, November 19.
Next: Season complete

WAGNER - Lost 19 straight road games.
Last: Lost 33-0 at Duquesne on Saturday, November 19.
Next: Season complete

PRESBYTERIAN - Lost 16 straight conference games.
Last: Lost 42-21at Stetson on Saturday, November 19.
Next: Season complete

HOUSTON CHRISTIAN - Lost 11 straight home games.
Last: Lost 49-7 at Tarleton on Saturday, November 19.
Next: Season complete

GEORGETOWN - Lost 11 straight home games.
Last: Lost 47-10 at home to Holy Cross on Saturday, November 19.
Next: Season complete