Oct. 31—NORTH DAKOTA STATE (6-2) AT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (8-0)
WHEN/WHERE: 2 p.m. Saturday at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings
TV: Midco Sports
RADIO: WNAX-AM 570; Jackrabbit radio affiliates
RECORD LAST YEAR: SDSU 14-1 (FCS champions); NDSU 12-3 (FCS runner-up)
SERIES: NDSU leads 63-46-5
LAST TIME: SDSU won 45-21 in last year's FCS national championship game in Frisco, Tex.
LAST WEEK: SDSU beat USD 37-3; NDSU beat Murray State 38-6
RANKINGS: SDSU is ranked No. 1 in FCS; NDSU is ranked 10th
COACHES: SDSU — Jimmy Rogers (1st year); NDSU — Matt Entz (5th year, 55-9)
WHAT TO KNOW: Entz has been the Bison coach since 2019 and still has not reached double digit losses. He's 55-9. That includes a 1-4 mark against South Dakota State and 54-5 against everyone else.
Yes, the worm has turned in this border rivalry, as North Dakota State's last win over the Jackrabbits came in 2019, when College Gameday visited Brookings and the quarterbacks were Trey Lance and J'Bore Gibbs.
Since then it's been all Jackrabbits. They won in 2020, the pandemic spring season, in Fargo, then won 27-19 in 2021 in Brookings. That was NDSU's only loss in a 14-1 season that brought them the most recent of their nine FCS national championships.
Then came last year, with SDSU beating the Bison in Fargo and then routing them in Frisco for the Jacks' first football national championship and NDSU's first loss in Frisco.
The Bison lead the Dakota Marker series (which does not include the playoffs and dates to 2004) 10-9. After SDSU won four of the first six Dakota Marker games, the Bison won eight meetings in a row counting the playoffs. But the Jacks have had the upper hand since. They've won five of the last seven Dakota Marker meetings and four consecutive overall including last year's title tilt.
And while SDSU has picked up right where they left off last year, roaring out to an 8-0 start that has them looking like heavy favorites to repeat as champions, NDSU has stumbled. The Bison lost at home to South Dakota, then got routed in Grand Forks by North Dakota, their in-state rivals' first win in the series at the Division I level.
The Jacks beat the two teams that beat NDSU by scores of 37-3 and 42-21.
Still, to dismiss the Bison would be foolish. They're No. 2 in the Valley in scoring offense (37.4) and fourth in scoring defense (18.0), and No. 1 in total offense and No. 3 in total defense. They lead the league in interceptions and are third in sacks. They narrowly edge the Jacks for the No. 1 rushing attack and quarterback Cam Miller has the nation's best completion percentage at 76.1.
Good as those numbers are, they don't look as daunting next to SDSU's.
The Jacks lead the Valley in scoring offense (39.0) and scoring defense (11.4), Isaiah Davis is the league's top rusher, Mark Gronowski it's highest-rated passer, and the offensive line that works in front of them has dominated.
Meanwhile their defense just went on the road to shut down a team that had won six games in a row and had little difficulty with the Bison in the Fargodome. SDSU has held five of its eight opponents to 10 points or fewer and are tops in the Valley in total defense at 257 yards against per game.