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FCS title game: SDSU favored over NDSU in ‘Battle of Dakotas’

South Dakota State quarterback Mark Gronowski throws a pass while warming up before the FCS semifinal game against Montana State on Saturday, December 17, 2022, at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings, SD.

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Credit: Erin Woodiel / Argus Leader / USA TODAY NETWORK

The long-awaited Battle of the Dakotas will take place in Frisco, Texas, on Sunday when the South Dakota State Jackrabbits battle the North Dakota State Bison in the FCS title game.

The Bison (12-2) have made the FCS title game almost an annual tradition as they seek their 10th championship in the past 12 years. However, they are 4.0-point underdogs to the Jackrabbits (13-1), who ride a school-record 13-game winning streak into their second title game in the past three years.

SDSU is the top seed and blew out Montana State 39-18 in the second semifinal game on Dec. 17. That came a day after third-seeded NDSU survived a 35-32 shootout against No. 7 Incarnate Word for its seventh consecutive win.

The line opened at 5.5 points at BetMGM but has shifted to 4.0 with the Bison backed by 55 percent of the spread bets while the Jacks have drawn 55 percent of the money. The 4.0-point line at DraftKings has seen similar action, with NDSU garnering 51 percent of the spread bets and SDSU backed by 58 percent of the money.

Sunday will mark the 114th meeting since 1903 between the rivals, with the Bison holding a 63-45-5 series lead, including each of the past three FCS playoff meetings. NDSU also boasts 11 wins over SDSU since its first FCS title in 2011.

However, it’s the Jacks who have won the past three meetings overall, including a 23-31 victory during the regular season. The Bison will be trying to avoid their first four-game losing streak in the series since 1950.

Matt Entz owns a 49-6 record as NDSU’s head coach, with half of those loses coming to SDSU. He has only managed to beat the Jacks once thus far, in 2019 when Entz had future first-round pick quarterback Trey Lance running the offense.

SDSU reached the FCS title game in 2021 only to lose to Sam Houston State in a season that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortened season was the only time since 2011 that the Bison failed to win at least 12 games.

Less than a year later, NDSU added to its title haul with a victory over Montana State in last year’s championship game. The Bison are 44-3 all-time in the FCS playoffs and have never lost in the title game, with six of their nine championship victories coming by double figures.

Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on ABC.

–Field Level Media