SDSU v. NDSU FCS Football Semifinals

South Dakota State v. North Dakota State — Dakota Marker Series

This semifinal is setting up to be a game of epic proporitions. This rivalry game has been played consistently since 1903, though it’s been a much more recent development that it’s begun beomg competed at the Division 1 level. Due to proximity the schools they’ve always had a natural rivalry, and it’s continued to thrive over the years. Since 2004, they play for the “Dakota Marker” which is a replica of the Seventh Standard Parallel line that divided the states. Over 700 markers formed the initial division with the monuments that were more than 6 feet tall, placed at regular (1/2 mile) increments. Inscriptions existed on both sides of the markers indicating South Dakota on one side and North Dakota on the other.

Recently, you might have heard, about a North Dakota State quarter back that was taken as the number two overall draft pick and has played “pretty well” for the Philadelphia Eagles. He goes by the name of Carson Wentz and has a number of FCS Championships and more recently, a Super Bowl, to his name.

South Dakota State

The South Dakota State Jack Rabbits enter this matchup as a 9-2 team (with their preseason game against Iowa State having been cancelled). They have one opponent in common with NDSU, although NDSU ended up with a win over UNI, rather than SDSU’s loss. The other loss, came against NDSU which makes this game mean all that much more for both sides.


South Dakota State is a top-tier rushing team averaging 234.7 yards per game for a total of 2,186 yards in 435 rushes, giving them a very solid 6.47 yards/rush and 36 Touchdowns.

They supplement this with a high-powered passing game that’s accrued 3074 yards on 324 attempts with a 60% completion rate. They average 9.5 yards per attempt and have accumulated 33 touchdowns in route to an average of 256.2 yards per game. They’ve also managed to keep their interceptions down with only 7 on the season.

Their season average per game is just shy of 491 combined yards of offense.


SDSU’s defense has done a pretty good job against the rush this season. In 465 rushing attempts they’ve allowed 2008 yds or about 4.32 yards per rush. These are very respectable rush defense numbers bolstered by having only 15 rushing TD allowed. On average this defense is allowing about 167.3 rushing yards per game.

On the passing side of the defense, they’re numbers are also good. Of 355 attempts, they allowed only 192 completions (54%) for 2399 yds. They have allowed 6.75 yards per attempt with only 16 TD allowed. That means on average they allow 199.92 pass yards per game. In addition, they forced 17 interceptions with 1 of those returned for a touchdown.

On average they’ve allowed 456.12 combined yards of offense per game.

North Dakota State:

North Dakota State present for this game a perfect 12-0 which is not, ridiculously, unheard of for this team. This Bison team has had a winning record for a long time, and often, it is only this South Dakota State team that keeps them from a perfect record. This is not an unfamiliar position (FCS Playoffs) for this team, and they’ve been within a game or two of the FCS title for several years straight.


The NDSU offense has been prolific to say the least. Their rushing game has been particularly impressive with 3564 yards gained on 567 attempts. This equates to 6.28 yards per rushing attempt capped off by a monstrous 46 rushing TDs scored. Their rushing ability is reflected in their huge 274.2 rush yards per game average.

The Bison also have a good passing game accumulating 2416 yards on 155/256 passing. This means that on a nearly 61% completion rate they average 9.44 yards for each attempt. As Madden/NCAA Football-esque as those numbers are they cap it off with 25 TD and only 5 interceptions on the year. This team is averaging 185.8 pass yards per game on only about 19.5 attempts per game.

Combined, the NDSU offense is averaging a huge 460 yards.


The Bison defense has been very good against both kinds of attack. In the rushing game they have only allowed 1386 yards on 448 attempts on the year. They allow 3.09 yards per attempt for a total of 7 touchdowns and an average of 107 yards of rush offense per game.

I’m hesitant to say that their passing defense hasn’t been as good because the connotation is then that they’ve been bad. However, the Bison have allowed 2239 yards on 179/346 passing. They’ve only allowed about a 52% completion rate, with an average of 6.47 yards per attempt. To cap this off they have allowed 9 touchdowns on the season compared to 20 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdown. So, they’ve only yielded about 173 yards per game through the air on average.

The NDSU defense is allowing less than 280 total yards of offense per game while scoring in excess of 450. If this isn’t a winning formula I don’t know what is.

The Game

The game is played at the Fargo Dome in Fargo, North Dakota with kickoff at 5:00p PST/8:00p EST).

The neutrals are expecting 52 points to be put up on the board with NDSU expected to come out on top by a nearly 12 point margin. I feel like I barely have a choice in this matter. With NDSU holding the advantage head to head and with common opponents I’m not sure the Jacks can compete. Hopefully it makes for some awesome football on this Friday night, but with that 200 yards difference between gained and allowed, I have to go NDSU.

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