South Dakota State Preview: FCS Playoff Bye Week for Fifth-Seeded Jackrabbits
There has been plenty for the South Dakota State football team to be thankful over the past seven seasons. The Jackrabbits are one of only a handful of teams in the nation to qualify for the FCS Playoffs each year since 2012.
And now for the third Thanksgiving in a row, SDSU is doubly thankful with a third straight top-eight seed (#5), and a first-round bye in the postseason.
That means while 16 other teams are gearing up for a game this weekend, the Jackrabbits are enjoying some time off as they get ready to host the winner of the Duquesne-Towson first-round match-up.
That second-round game will be next Saturday, December 1, at 2:00 PM, in Brookings.
Last Saturday, the Jackrabbits (8-2/6-2 MVFC) finished off the regular season with a 49-27 win over South Dakota.
SDSU scored touchdowns on four of their first drives of the game to lead 28-7 after the first quarter. Two of those TDs came from running back Pierre Strong Jr. on runs of 30 and 73-yards. He finished the day with the tenth most yards ever by a Jackrabbit running back - 253 yards.
The Coyote offense moved the ball effectively in the second quarter chewing up nearly nine minutes on drives of 15 and 12 plays but came up empty both times, despite having the ball first-and-goal from the SDSU two-yard line on the second drive.
A third USD drive in the second quarter was stopped when quarterback Austin Simmons fumbled on a sack from Jackrabbit defensive lineman Ryan Earith.
SDSU pushed the lead to 42-14 by the end of the third quarter before the Coyotes struck for two touchdowns to start the fourth, making it a two-possession game.
But that rally was squashed thanks to Strong's third scoring run of the day, a 46-yarder with 3:33 to play.
SDSU senior quarterback Taryn Christion threw three touchdown passes on the day, bringing his career total to 100 scoring tosses. He also went over 11,000 passing yards in his career.
The Jackrabbits did not turn the ball over or give up a sack in the victory but did commit a season-high 14 penalties for 145 yards.
I talked with Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier about the South Dakota win, the playoff seed, and preparations for the December 1 opponent: