The fifth-seeded South Dakota State University football team will make its 2017 Football Championship Subdivision playoff debut today by hosting Missouri Valley Football Conference rival Northern Iowa in second-round action.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (MST) at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The game will be televised exclusively on ESPN3.com.
The Jackrabbits enter the matchup with a 9-2 overall record that included tying for second place in the MVFC regular season race with UNI at 6-2. SDSU has won five games in a row, including the last four against ranked opponents, since suffering a 38-18 Hobo Day setback at the hands of the Panthers on Oct. 14. The Jackrabbits ended the regular season ranked sixth in both the STATS FCS media and FCS Coaches' polls.
Northern Iowa, meanwhile, improved to 8-4 overall with a 46-7 home victory over Monmouth in opening-round action Nov. 25. The Panthers, who are ranked 20th in the media poll and 21st by the coaches, have won six of their last seven games, with the lone defeat a 30-14 decision Oct. 28 at North Dakota State.
Saturday's game will mark the 53rd meeting on the gridiron between South Dakota State and Northern Iowa. UNI holds a 30-20-2 advantage in the series, including an 8-4 advantage since SDSU joined the Football Championship Subdivision in 2004. The road team has won each of the last four meetings, starting with a 31-28 Jackrabbit victory in Cedar Falls, Iowa, during the 2014 season.
Saturday's game will mark the first-ever postseason meeting between SDSU and UNI.
In the previous matchup this season, South Dakota State dug itself an early hole with multiple uncharacteristic mistakes and couldn't recover in falling, 38-18.
UNI led 17-0 after one quarter, cracking the scoring column with a field goal after a muffed punt. The Panthers also took advantage of a short field following an interception to push the margin to 10-0, then put together a six-play, 48-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown run by Marcus Weymiller.
The Jackrabbits twice pulled within two scores, the last on a 19-yard touchdown catch by Dallas Goedert late in the third quarter.
USD to face Sam Houston state on the road
Fresh off their first FCS playoff win in their debut against Nicholls (31-28), the South Dakota Coyotes head south for the second straight weekend to face another Southland team, the Sam Houston State Bearkats, for the right to advance to the quarterfinals.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (MST) at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas. The game can be seen online at ESPN3.
Sam Houston State is in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The streak began with national championship losses to North Dakota State in 2011 and 2012. The Bearkats have reached the quarterfinals in each of the last three seasons and enter this game having won 18 straight at Bowers Stadium dating back to 2015.
The winner advances to face either Jacksonville State, the number three seed in the bracket, or Kennesaw State either Dec. 8 or Dec. 9. If Jacksonville State wins Saturday, it will host the USD/SHSU winner. Sam Houston State, as the number six seed, would host Kennesaw State. Should Kennesaw State and South Dakota win, a bidding process will determine the quarterfinal host.
The main headline for this game is Sam Houston State senior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, the 2016 FCS Walter Payton Award Winner, taking on South Dakota senior quarterback Chris Streveler, one of the favorites to win that award this season. Briscoe and the Bearkats lead the nation in both scoring (45.9 ppg) and total offense (544.6 ypg). Streveler and the Coyotes rank second nationally in total offense (514.2 ypg) and are fifth in scoring (37.8 ppg).
Both quarterbacks operate up-tempo, quick-strike attacks with plenty of weapons at their disposal. You may even see similar plays run between the two groups. The quarterback styles are unique in that Briscoe operates almost entirely from the pocket while Streveler is the best dual-threat operator in the nation.
Briscoe averages 354 yards passing and has thrown (only) 37 touchdowns. He tossed 57 touchdowns in 13 games last year when he won the Payton award. Streveler, the nation's leader in total offense, has passed for 27 touchdowns and ran for 10 more. He passed for 378 yards and four scores in last week's win at Nicholls.