CSJ’s 2018 Week 5 Game Preview: South Dakota State at North Dakota State

South Dakota State at North Dakota State
When: Saturday, September 29, 2:30 PM CDT
Where: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome
TV/Streaming: ND NBC, MidCo Sports / ESPN+ (subscription required)

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (2-0, 0-0 MVFC)

An odd scheduling quirk has SDSU going to NDSU to open the Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule with both teams ranked in the Top 5 in the country in our poll and in many other polls.

The Jackrabbits have defeated Montana State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff for its only two out-of-conference games and defeated the two by a combined 135-20. SDSU lost its first game this season against FBS Iowa State due to lightning.

SDSU beat NDSU 19-17 in Fargo in 2016 to gain control of the Dakota Marker Trophy–a 75-pound replica of quartzite pillars that were once used on the border to separate North Dakota and South Dakota– for the first time since 2009. When the two teams met in Brookings last November, the Jackrabbits handled the eventual national champion Bison 33-21.

Key Player: SDSU Defense as a whole will be the key to the game especially in the running game. NDSU is averaging 41.7 points a game and 296.7 yards rushing through the first three contests.

Fantasy Bonus Baby:QB Taryn Christion will need to be the same kind of player he has been in the two regular season victories. In his two career regular season victories over NDSU, Christion has thrown for 632 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He added 166 yards and one touchdown on the ground while taking three sacks.

North Dakota State Bison (3-0, 0-0 MVFC)

While NDSU has lost the last two regular season contests between it and SDSU, it did win the 2016 FCS playoff match-up 36-10. The Bison limited SDSU QB Christion to just 144 yards passing and controlled the time of possession.

So far this season, NDSU has been dominating in three wins over Cal Poly, North Alabama, and Delaware. The Bison won these three by a combined 125-20.

These two teams have met starting back to 1903 and there have been 107 meetings between the two schools thus far. North Dakota State leads the all-time series 60-42-5.

Courtesy of Fargo Forum

Key Player: QB Easton Stick threw three interceptions and the Bison turned the ball over five times in what would be NDSU’s lone loss of 2017. Turnovers were the key last year so expect Stick to look to correct those errors from a season ago. Stick is third all-time in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in rushing yards by a quarterback but is capable of making plays in the passing game as well. He led the conference in pass efficiency rating (169.5) last season.

Fantasy Bonus Baby: RB Bruce Anderson has led the Bison running attack that has averaged 296.7 yards rushing through the first three contests. Anderson alone has 264 yards and three scores and has played in limited due to the easy wins so far. He will likely be needed for four quarters in this one so expect his numbers to be higher in this contest.

Fearless Forecast: SDSU is coming off a bye week but NDSU has the home field advantage in this one. Both teams have yet to really been tested so far this season so there is not a lot this season to go by how this one will go. It is SDSU’s first real road game since is first game at Iowa State was canceled. I believe the Bison have a little more talent on both sides of the ball, however, and with losing two straight marker games, NDSU likely practiced even harder to avoid the loss to their rivals for a third straight season. SDSU will keep this close but I like the Bison to pull away late for a ten point victory. NDSU 38, SDSU 28

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