North Dakota St. vs. South Dakota St. FCS Top Picks: The Jackrabbits Run to Victory

profile image of Willie.Bee
Quarterback Mark Gronowski #11 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits throws during the second half against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Matthew Holst/Getty Images/AFP

NCAAF Pick: South Dakota State -4½ (-108) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

Bookmaker logo
South Dakota State -4½ (-108)
Visit Site

This year’s FCS Championship Game between North Dakota State and South Dakota State is being called a dream matchup by some, and we’re looking to turn that dream into the reality of cold, hard cash with winning college football picks

Fans from the Mount Rushmore State looking to make a wager on the game can check out our top-rated South Dakota sportsbooks.

North Dakota State Bison vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Sunday, January 8, 2023 – 02:00 PM EST at Toyota Stadium 

It’s called the Dakota Marker, and the trophy is given annually to the winner of the football game between the North Dakota State Bison and South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a rivalry that celebrates its 120th anniversary later this year. 

South Dakota State currently has possession of the nearly 75-pound piece of hardware, and before the Jackrabbits and Bison compete for it again, there’s a little matter of unfinished business between the two in the form of a matchup in the FCS Championship.  

Total Remains Flat at 47½ 

Most outlets introduced South Dakota State as a 3½-point favorite when the pairing was first decided about a week before Christmas, and that spread has since been bet up to -4½ on the Jackrabbits to win their first FCS title. 

There has been no movement on the total at BetOnline where it has remained at 47½ points since the opening. The game pits two of the top defenses in the FCS where South Dakota State ranks third allowing 15.43 PPG and North Dakota State is fifth giving up 18.43. 

Rivalry Trends & Stats

South Dakota State maintained possession of the Dakota Marker with a 23-21 win in Fargo on October 15, as the Jackrabbits rallied with 16 unanswered points in the second half to push their win streak in the rivalry to three in a row while covering the NCAAF odds each time. 

John Stiegelmeier’s squad was able to pull it off the old-fashioned with a bruising ground game that saw Isaiah Davis rumble for 114 yards on 14 carries while Amar Johnson added 89 more on 12 totes, one of those a huge 16-yard scoring run in the second half. 

  • Even with the Jackrabbits winning the last three, North Dakota State still has a healthy 63-45-5 advantage in the series. 
  • This is the fifth time the two have met in the FCS playoffs, with the Bison winning the previous four postseason clashes. 
  • Totals have run 1-2 O/U in the last three collisions, all three games finishing within 2 points of the closing numbers that ranged from 44½-46. 

Bison Seeking 10th FCS Crown in 12 Seasons 

The gridiron success at North Dakota State is along the same lines as what UCLA did on the hardwood back in the 60s and 70s, and Matt Entz has the Bison in position to win their third title in his four seasons as head coach, and the school's 10th championship

The loss to South Dakota State was one of only two this season, the other was also a tough defeat on the road at Arizona where the Bison were favored by a field goal only to see the Wildcats score late in the fourth quarter for a 31-28 decision. 

In order to reach this championship, the Bison had to mount a comeback of their own in the FCS semifinals against Incarnate Word. Favored by 7½ on BMR’s live odds, North Dakota State fell behind 16-0 in the first quarter before raring back for the 35-32 triumph. 

Jacks No. 1 in FCS in Run Defense 

Stiegelmeier has also enjoyed a lot of success in his nearly quarter century at South Dakota State, including two of the last three Missouri Valley Conference titles, but none of it has ever translated into the national championship. 

The Jackrabbits’ lone setback came in the season opener at Iowa where the Hawkeyes’ nationally ranked defense at the CFP level did just enough to carry them past South Dakota State, 7-3. 

Matched up against Montana State in the FCS semis, South Dakota State led from start to finish for a 39-18 victory that had more than enough to cover the 4-point spread and landed smack-dab on the 57-point total at top sportsbooks

Health a Concern for Bison 

North Dakota State was down several key players in the close win over Incarnate Word last month, and they could be game-time decisions for Entz and his staff. Running backs Kobe Johnson and TaMerik Williams, the two leading rushers, are the big names since the Bison pass attack is pedestrian. 

The Final Verdict

On a cool and cloudy Sunday afternoon in Frisco, TX, the Jackrabbits finally break through with a national title against their old rivals. 

NCAAF Pick: Over 47½ (-110) at Bookmaker 

Bookmaker logo
Over 47½ (-110)
Visit Site

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.