Jackrabbits Make FCS Playoffs, Open at Montana State Saturday
South Dakota State is a playoff team for the third straight year.
The Jackrabbits grabbing one of 13 at-large bids in the 24-team FCS Playoff field. SDSU will open the post season in Bozeman, Montana, Saturday afternoon, when they take on Montana State.
The Bobcats finished second in the Big Sky Conference with an 8-4 record.
MSU is led by quarterback Dakota Prukop, who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season, while running for close to 1,000 yards. But he missed the last two games of the regular season with a knee injury.
Without him, the Bobcats turned the ball over seven times in a 34-7 loss at Montana Saturday.
Defensively, Montana State was near the bottom of the Big Sky, allowing nearly 500 yards per game in conference action.
I asked SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier about getting into the post season again and the Jacks first round opponent:
The Jackrabbits and Montana State have met 12 times over the years, with the Bobcats dominating the series with 10 wins. The teams have only squared off once in the Division I era, a 27-24 MSU win, in Bozeman, in 2004.
This is the fourth trip to the post season since the Jackrabbits made the jump to Division I in 2004.
SDSU lost to Montana 61-48 in the opening round in 2009.
In 2012, the Jackrabbits hosted a FCS Playoff game for the first time, beating Eastern Illinois 58-10, before losing at eventual National Champ North Dakota State 28-3 in round two.
Last season, SDSU went on the road and beat Northern Arizona 26-7 in the opening round, before losing at Eastern Washington 41-17 in the second round.
Saturday in Brookings in front of 10,631 fans, South Dakota State put the finishing touches on an 8-4 regular season, 5-3 in Missouri Valley Conference play, with a 37-14 win over South Dakota.
The Jackrabbits dominated the game from the beginning, scoring on their first five possessions, en route to a 31-0 lead at the half.
SDSU rolled up more than 500 yards (547) in total offense for the third straight game.
Quarterback Austin Sumner threw for 395 yards, the second most in a game in program history. In the process, he 9,000-yard mark in career passing yards, finishing the day with 9,077.
Redshirt freshman Jake Wieneke continued his outstanding season with 177 yards on six catches. The 177 yards tied him for 10th most in a game in SDSU history.
Running back Zach Zenner moved into fourth place in FCS career all-purpose yards with 7,751, as the Jacks beat the Coyotes for the sixth straight time, matching their longest streak in the series with USD, which dates back to 1889.
Coach Stiegelmeier told me the key Saturday was the first few minutes of the game:
Kickoff is 3:00pm CT in Bozeman Saturday. The winner travels to North Dakota State in round two. The Jackrabbits were one of five Missouri Valley Conference teams to make the playoffs. NDSU is the #2 seed, Illinois State is the #5 seed. Both get first round byes.
Indiana State and Northern Iowa also made the field of 24.