The Jackrabbits’ march to the National Championship began by surviving the meat grinder known as the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The depth in the conference is well documented and South Dakota State faced the best that the conference had to offer. They used mistakes made in an early spring loss to North Dakota to clean up their issues and solidify their identity. Since that loss, they have won games in every way imaginable, including blowouts, shootouts, and low scoring defensive affairs. They have not always looked pretty but they have always won, and the FCS Playoff selection committee rewarded them with the No. 1 seed in the playoff.
They will officially be the home team, but it probably won’t feel like a home environment when they travel to Frisco. Especially considering how close their opponent lives to Toyota Stadium. This will be the first time Jackrabbits fans get to show if they travel as well as their state school foe to the north. The climate should also be a change for SDSU. The temperature in Brookings, South Dakota, is expected to be 63 degrees, overcast, with a 30% chance of rain. In Frisco the prediction is for 79 degrees and a 50% chance of thunderstorms. A 16 degree difference may not seem like a lot, but ask someone with football pads on. The heat and humidity is something that the Jackrabbits will need to adjust to rather quickly.
The Jackrabbits have one of the most potent rushing offenses in the FCS. In nine games, they’ve amassed 2,078 yards. That averages out to 231 yards per game, which places them seventh in the country. Their 6.02 yards per rush is second only to Incarnate Word — and they had the second leading rusher in the FCS. What’s more impressive is that South Dakota State does not have a Top 5, or even Top 10, rusher. They do have three guys who are among the Top 21 rushers in the country: Running backs Pierre Strong and Isaiah Davis, and quarterback Mark Gronowski. That diversity in runners means that you never know who might break a big run, and it allows the Jackrabbits to play 11-on-11.