South Dakota State Football Ranked #1 in FCS Playoffs – Mitchell Republic

BROOKINGS, SD – After 10 straight victories to close out the season, the South Dakota State University football team earned first place in the playoff bracket of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

The seeding ensures that SDSU will only have home games en route to the January 8 national championship game in Frisco, Texas. The Jackrabbits (10-1) get a first-round bye and play their first playoff game on Saturday, December 3rd. They will host either Saint Francis (Pa.) or Delaware, who will play a first round game on Saturday, November 26, with the winner playing in Brookings on December 3 at 2:00 p.m.

SDSU, which was the No. 1 team in the media and coaches’ polls last month of the season, was believed to be battling Sacramento State for the top seed. The Hornets were 11-0 and won the Big Sky Conference and had an FBS win over Colorado State, while the Jackrabbits lost just four points to Iowa and won at 3rd-ranked North Dakota State. The Hornets were No. 2, NDSU was No. 3, and Montana State is No. 4.

“It was a special season,” said SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier on the ESPNU selection show. “We’ve been through a lot. Lots of injuries, lots of coaching changes. But the guys pulled together, great chemistry, great culture, really proud of the team.”

If SDSU wins its first game, it will face either the Fordham/New Hampshire winners or Holy Cross, seeded 8th with a record 11-0, in the quarterfinals. The playoff path may resemble the spring 2021 season when SDSU reached Frisco after defeating Holy Cross in the first round and Delaware in the semifinals. The Jacks were also No. 1 in those playoffs.

“It’s one game after the other, one day after the other,” said Stiegelmeier. “That’s been our mission and our vision for this year, so we’re looking forward to a great week of Thanksgiving and then the Saint Francis/Delaware game winner.”

Only three teams from the Missouri Valley Football Conference made the FCS playoffs, with North Dakota coming to both NDSU and SDSU in the 24-man group. When asked by select show hosts, Stiegelmeier said he was OK with NDSU standing on the other side of the bracket pending a possible national title fight meet. SDSU has won the last three meetings between the rivals, but NDSU has won nine titles in the last 11 seasons.

“We’ve played them in the playoffs a lot in the past, so I’m not sure there’s always a tournament feel playing a rival,” Stiegelmeier said. “But it would be fun to play her in Frisco, that’s for sure.

NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs

All times central

Opening Round – Saturday 26th November

Elon (8-3) at Furman (9-2), 11 a.m

Saint Francis (Pa.) (9-2) in Delaware (7-4), 1 p.m

Fordham (9-2) at New Hampshire (8-3), 1 p.m

Davidson (8-3) at Richmond (8-3), 1 p.m

North Dakota (7-4) at Weber State (9-2), 3 p.m

Gardner-Webb (6-5) at Eastern Kentucky (7-4), 4 p.m

Idaho (7-4) in Southeast Louisiana (8-3), 6 p.m

Southeast Missouri State (9-2) at Montana (7-4), 9 p.m

Second round – Saturday 3 December

Winner Saint Francis/Delaware in the state of South Dakota No. 1 (10-1), 2 p.m

Fordham/New Hampshire winners at No. 8 Holy Cross (11-0), 11 a.m

AND/Weber State winner at No. 4 Montana State (10-1), 1 p.m

Gardner-Webb/EKU winners at #5 William and Mary (10-1), 2pm

SEMO/Montana winners in North Dakota State No. 3 (9-2), 2:30 p.m

Idaho/SELA winner in #6 Samford (10-1), 2 p.m

Elon/Furman winner at #7 Incarnate Word (10-1), 1 p.m

Davidson/Richmond winner at No. 2 Sacramento State (11-0), 4 p.m

Quarterfinals – 9th-10th December

Play with the highest remaining seed

Upper bracket

Winner SFU/Delaware/SDSU vs. Winner Fordham/UNH/Holy Cross, Time TBD.

Winner AND/Weber/Montana State vs. Winner GW/EKU/WMU, Time TBD.

Lower bracket

Winner SEMO/Montana/NDSU vs. Winner Idaho/SELA/Samford, Time TBD.

Winner Elon/Furman/UIW vs. Winner Davidson/Richmond/Sac State, Time TBD.

Semifinals – 16th-17th December

Semifinal #1, 6pm, December 16

Semifinal #2, 3pm, December 17

Championship – January 8 – in Frisco, Texas

Semifinal Winners, 1pm (TV: ABC)

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