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History shows it's tough to beat team twice during season

FARGO, N.D. -- As the old adage goes, it's hard to beat the same team twice in one season. And never is that more true than in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

When North Dakota State hosts South Dakota State Saturday in the FCS second round at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, the Bison will be trying to buck a trend. Of the last 13 intra-conference postseason matchups since 2001, the team that lost the first game won the rematch eight times.

Which is about what Dave Coulson of College Sports Journal would have guessed based on his experience in covering the division. He estimates the loser of the regular-season game wins in the playoff about 75 percent of the time.

"It's really kind of remarkable," Coulson said. "You would think it would be more like 50-50, something like that. ... It's just not something that is a last-few-years-kind-of-trend but something that has been pretty much going since they started the FCS playoffs."

On the flipside, the home team was won six of the last seven conference rematches with the lone dissenter being a 23-20 win by Georgia Southern at Wofford in the 2010 quarterfinals. And that game, Coulson said, was different in that the visiting Eagles had just as many fans, if not more, than the home-standing Terriers.

"Georgia Southern made that a home game," Coulson said. "Wofford is a smaller school that really doesn't draw that well and when teams like Appalachian State or Georgia Southern play there, a lot of times they'll have just as many fans as Wofford will."

The last rematch in the Missouri Valley Football Conference was in 2006 when Youngstown State defeated Illinois State 28-21 in the quarterfinals. The Penguins also won the regular-season meeting 27-13.

Before that, Western Kentucky, which has since moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, defeated Western Illinois 31-28 in the 2002 quarterfinals. WIU won the regular-season game 14-0. In both instances, the home team lost.

"A lot of it has to do with one team comes in hungry the second time they play," Coulson said. "You find out what doesn't work, what does work, and maybe it's easier to attack things at that point."

NDSU and SDSU will be just three weeks removed from the 20-17 Bison win. NDSU defeated Illinois State 38-20 in their last regular-season game and had a first-round playoff bye last week.

The Jackrabbits rebounded with a 31-8 win over South Dakota and a 58-10 rout over Eastern Illinois in last week's first round.

"Another thing that happens (with rematches) is a lot of times rivals are meeting," Coulson said. "The rivalry element plays into it as well."