South Dakota State and Sam Houston State Will Play For Either School's First FCS Chanpionship

May 8, 2021 by Staff

South Dakota State (8-1) throttled Delaware 33-3 and Sam Houston State staged a huge comeback win over James Madison as the Jackrabbits and Bearkats advance to the national championship game in Frisco, Texas next Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT.

South Dakota State has never played in the national championship game and Sam Houston State lost both of its previous appearances in 2011 and 2012 to North Dakota State at the beginning of the Bisons' decade-long domination.

In Brookings, South Dakota, Mark Gronowski threw two touchdown passes on a 10-of-16 day with 162 yards passing, and a throwback receiving touchdown early in the second quarter.

Delaware (7-1) QB Nolan Henderson was injured on a sack on the Blue Hens' second possession of the game that ended in their only points. He returned two series later but the Jacks' defense harassed him all day and sacked him seven times. He finished 18-of-21 passing, but for just 142 yards and was limited to 14 yards rushing on 20 carries.

In Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State (9-0) exploded for 35 unanswered points and took a 38-27 lead with 12:16 left in the game.Twenty-eight of those 35 points came in a 4:56 stretch from the 2:22 mark of the 3rd quarter to the 12:16 mark of the 4th.

James Madison (7-1) held a 24-3 halftime lead behind a 24-0 second quarter explosion of its own. 14 of those points were tallied in the last 1:26 of the half.

The Dukes cut the gap to 38-35 with 10:14 left, but missed a 51-yard field with 2:09 remaining. That drive ended with QB Cole Johnson on the sideline with a hand injury and the field goal was attempted by the place-kicker due to the distance, and not the normal field goal kicker.

Sam Houston State is 16-0 in home playoff games.

SEE: Scores and Picks

The Bracket

First Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
(at Frisco, TX)
Upper Half
4/24 (*=home) 5/2 (*=home) 5/8 (*=home)    
Holy Cross (3-1) 3
*-#1 SDSU (6-1) 31
*-SDSU 31
*-SDSU 33
So. Illinois (6-3) 34
So. Illinois 26
*-Weber State (5-1) 31
4/24, 7 p.m.        
Sacred Hart (3-2) 10
*-Delaware (6-0) 19
Delaware 20
Delaware 3
Davidson (4-3) 14
*-#4 J'ville St. (10-2) 49
*-J'ville St. 14
Lower Half (Home Team On Bottom Of Each Pairing)
VMI (6-2) 24        
*-#3 JMU (6-0) 31
*-JMU 34
JMU 35
Missouri State (5-5) 10
*-North Dakota (5-1) 44
North Dakota 21
E. Washington (5-2) 20
*-NDSU (7-2) 42
Monmouth (3-1) 15
*-#2 SHSU (7-0) 21
*-SHSU 24
*-SHSU 38

The Congrove Computer Rankings at was 1-1 in picking semifinal winners outright and 1-1 against the spread, running its playoff record to 9-5 SU and 8-6 ATS. Meanwhile, the human picks at are 11-3 SU while Sam Herder at is also 11-3.

The computer had South Dakota State and James Madison advancing, as did Herder. The CFP human selections were both correct with the Jackrabbits and Bearkats.

Two of the three sources - the CFP Human and Herder - still have their predicted champion in play. The computer was riding North Dakota State to the top, but the Bison were knocked out by the CFP Human choice, Sam Houston State. Herder has been all-in on South Dakota State since the playoffs began. The computer now favors South Dakota State over Sam Houston State by 10.55 points.