This is not totally unfamiliar territory for the state of Sam Houston. The Bearkats made the title game back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, falling to North Dakota State the two times the Bison stepped up their dynasty. The state of South Dakota has also enjoyed success over the past decade making the playoffs every year since 2012, but has not made it past the semi-finals so far.
A fun, albeit unlikely, FCS season comes to a close this weekend. Which team will hoist the trophy at the end? Here’s everything you need to know for Sunday’s game.
Date: Sunday May 16 | Time14 h HE
Location: Stade Toyota – Frisco, Texas
TV: ABC | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
How the state of South Dakota got here
The Jackrabbits have had a tough road to getting to this point. Two games – against Illinois State and South Dakota – were called off, while a third game against North Dakota State had to be postponed. Still, South Dakota State finished 5-1 in the regular season with a stellar defense led by main linebacker Logan Backhaus. In the playoffs, the Jackrabbits faced Holy Cross in the first round before needing a rally in the fourth quarter to beat southern Illinois in the quarterfinals. The seeded team then took on Delaware 33-3 in the semifinals last weekend.
How Sam Houston State Got Here
It’s not so much how the Bearkats got here, it’s that they almost didn’t. They got off to a bad start in the semifinals against No.3 James Madison, falling 24-3 at halftime. The second half was a different story, however, as Sam Houston State’s top 10 offense took over in the third quarter. With a little help from an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by receiver and Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year Jequez Ezzard, the Bearkats had four touchdowns in about five minutes of play covering the third and fourth quarters in a 38 -35 win from behind.
Sam Houston State went 6-0 in the regular season and won the Southland conference before moving past Monmouth and North Dakota State in the first two rounds. By upsetting the Bison 24-20, Sam Houston State put an end (at least temporarily) to a program that had won the last three national championships.
The only thing you can say about Sam Houston State is that when they need to move the ball, they can move the ball. Ezzard and quarterback Eric Schmid, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, are a tough combination. And the Bearkats’ defense has been better than advertised in their playoff series. Picks: Sam Houston State 27, South Dakota State 23