The top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits take on the two-seed Sam Houston State Bearkats in the 2021 FCS Championship on Sunday. The championship contest will be the Jackrabbits’ first title game appearance and the Bearkats’ third, with neither team having won the FCS title.
Sunday’s championship kicks off at 2 p.m. ET at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The contest will be aired live on ABC.
According to the college football odds, South Dakota State is a 5½-point favorite over the Bearkats in the title tilt.
What to Know – South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits (8-1) make their first appearance in the FCS title in school history after falling in semifinal matchups in 2017 and 2018. South Dakota State took care of Delaware in the semifinals, defeating the Blue Hens, 33-3.
In Saturday’s semifinal victory, the Jackrabbits outgained the Blue Hens offensively, 354-216, and matched a playoff record with seven sacks. SDSU used a 20-point second quarter to build a sizable lead and not look back. Defensively, the Jackrabbits held Delaware to only 68 yards rushing and kept the Blue Hens out of the end zone.
Freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski completed 10-of-16 passes with two touchdowns, and junior running back Pierre Strong Jr. carried the ball 14 times for 73 yards and a touchdown. Strong added a 24-yard passing touchdown to Gronowski on a trick play in the second quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Janke caught three passes for 64 yards and a score.
What to Know – Sam Houston State Bearkats
Sam Houston State returns to the title game for the third time, and hopefully, it will be the third time’s a charm for the Bearkats. The Bearkats (9-0) appeared in the title game in 2011 and 2012, dropping both contests to North Dakota State.
The Bearkats rallied from a 21-point deficit in the semifinals to take down James Madison and punch their ticket to the season finale. Trailing 24-3 at halftime, the Bearkats put up 174 yards of offense in the third quarter, scoring four times and taking a 31-27 lead into the final quarter of play. SHSU added a score early in the fourth and held off a JMU rally to victory.
Junior quarterback Eric Schmid used his arm (13-of-27, 218 yards, one touchdown) and legs (11 attempts, 55 yards, two touchdowns) to lead the Bearkats to victory. Junior running back Ramon Jefferson chipped in 15 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown, while senior wide receiver Jaquez Ezzard caught four passes for a game-high 107 yards and one touchdown.
Jackrabbits vs. Bearkats Preview
Sunday’s championship is going to be a back-and-forth slugfest between a pair of FCS powerhouses, and you can expect both coaches to have their teams ready to go as they attempt to bring home their school’s first national title.
“When you say you want to win a national championship, you need to get to Frisco,” South Dakota State head coach John Stiegelmeier said of the championship game. “So to me, (this is) a step. What I hope, what I expect, and what I’m going to demand, is that we’re not giddy about getting there but excited about the opportunity to win a national championship.”
There are few flaws between these teams, but the Jackrabbits have faced six ranked teams this spring, going 5-1 against those opponents. SDSU brings a battle-tested roster into Frisco and will leave the state of Texas with its first FCS title.
When making your college football picks, go with South Dakota State to win and cover.