Game Time: Saturday, December 9, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, Brookings, South Dakota
Where To Watch: ESPN3
Betting Odds: South Dakota State -20, O/U 47.5
Odds via sportsbooks monitored by GamblersPalace.com
In a weekend where the big boys aren’t playing, the FCS is taking center stage and ESPN is spacing out the games so that the FCS Quarterfinals can get as many eyeballs as possible.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are looking to make the Semifinals for the first time ever. The Jackrabbits got to the FCS Quarterfinals for the first time in school history last year, but were unable to get past North Dakota State.
This season, they got a gift when the New Hampshire Wildcats knocked off Central Arkansas, and now look set to make the Semifinals in a likely rematch with the Bison. First, they must take care of business against New Hampshire though.
Reasons to Like South Dakota State
Taryn Christion’s numbers were a little worse than what we saw last season, but the Jackrabbits quarterback is undeniably one of the best in the country.
Christion is the keystone of this offense, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. Additionally, he is the team’s second leading rusher and is averaging over five yards per carry, double his average from last season. He has proven to be invaluable and while his completion percentage has gone down, both of South Dakota State’s losses came in games where Christion struggled.
Reasons Not to Like South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits defense has not been good this year. They are allowing an average of 5.7 yards per play and have struggled to stop opposing offenses all year.
Of particular concern is the run defense. South Dakota State is allowing 4.6 yards per carry and opposing teams have been able to grind out yards against this team. That will be the exact formula New Hampshire uses to try to pull off the upset.
Reasons to Like New Hampshire
The Wildcats defense has stepped up when it really mattered this postseason. New Hampshire shut out Central Connecticut State in its first round game and forced four turnovers last week against Central Arkansas in order to pull off the upset.
That’s been the status quo the last half of the season as this defense has really turned it on since Jared Kuehl returned from injury. Kuehl and Quinlen Dean are the two linebackers in the 4-2-5 scheme and are the linchpins of this defense. They will need to play really well to get past South Dakota State.
Reasons Not to Like New Hampshire
This team doesn’t really have a ground game. The Wildcats are averaging just 2.7 yards per carry and while that number is skewed by quarterback sacks, it’s indicative of the problems they face along the offensive line.
New Hampshire’s offense has been one-dimensional and opposing defenses have keyed in on that. The Wildcats rely on Trevor Knight to move the chains with a short passing game, but teams have picked up on that. Over their last six games, New Hampshire is averaging just 14.2 PPG.
The Wildcats were doubled up in terms of total yards by Central Arkansas last week and would not have advanced if the Bears didn’t commit turnovers. South Dakota State knows it should win as long as it doesn’t make the same mistake and I think this one could get ugly. Don’t be surprised if this is the biggest blowout of the Quarterfinals.
Final Score: South Dakota State 38, New Hampshire 14