No. 2 South Dakota St at No. 1 North Dakota St Preview: Who has the edge in the FCS Game of the Year
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
In an FCS season where there have been many surprises, the top of the rankings look familiar headed into this weekend’s “Dakota Marker Game”. On Saturday at 3:30 Eastern Np. 2 South Dakota State heads to Fargo to take on No. 1 North Dakota State. A matchup that has seemingly only gained steam through the years has seen College Gameday visit ahead of this matchup twice in the last five years.
And because they love their bettors and FCS football, Betfred Sportsbook is the only place that you can bet on the FCS Game of the Year.
Here is our full preview, with the point spread provided by Betfred Sportsbook.
Dakota Marker Game
No. 2 South Dakota State at No. 1 North Dakota State
Spread: Pick 'Em
Looking at this game, both carry 5-1 records with the lone blemish on the road at a Power 5 - and both losses could have easily been wins for the FCS powers. South Dakota State suffered a 7-3 loss in Week 1 at Iowa and North Dakota State fell by three in Week 3 at Arizona.
Much of the talk in the preseason surrounded South Dakota State’s offense. A group coach John Stiegelmeier called his “best offense ever” in 26 years as the head coach. At the time that statement didn’t seem like much of a reach as The Jackrabbits brought back QB Mark Gronowski who missed the entire 2021 Fall season with injury after he led South Dakota State to the Spring 2021 FCS National Championship game. The offense also returned a talented veteran group of skill position players led by the FCS’s top NFL prospect, tight end Tucker Kraft. Kraft, injured at Iowa Week 1, hasn’t seen the field since, but could return Saturday at No. 1 NDSU.
Well, after a few early season lumps, they’ve been building week by week to get to where they thought they’d be to start the year. The Jackrabbits are averaging 27 points per game and 351 yards per game through six contests in 2022, South Dakota State is still a far cry from the 36+ PPG and 441 yards per game they finished at last year. A lot of that probably has to do with a change at Offensive Coordinator, the Jackrabbits lost Jason Eck to Idaho in the offseason. Also, despite the lack of gaudy numbers from the offense, South Dakota State’s defense looks as good as any in the FCS so far. The Jackrabbits rank sixth in the country allowing just 12 PPG this season.
On the other side North Dakota State averages 36.5 PPG on offense led by a monster rushing attack that averages 265 yards per game. The Bison are led by Hunter Luepke, SMU transfer TaMerik Williams and Kobe Johnson who have all run for more than 200 yards this season. Cam Miller is the quarterback and was the starting signal caller last season when NDSU won their ninth FCS Championship in the last 11 seasons.
The Bison do a good job of setting up easy pass plays for Miller who is no Carson Wentz, Trey Lance, or Easton Stick who were serious NFL prospects while at NDSU. Many thought NDSU would blow by its competition after losing at Arizona, but the Bison have been tested against the likes of South Dakota, Youngstown State, & most recently Indiana State; three teams with a combined 4-11 nowhere near the FCS Top 25 rankings.
One thing is for sure, the Fargodome will be rocking on Saturday afternoon, and I expect a close, low-scoring game.
The best bet is the under.
The pick: Under 46.5
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSylvester_