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SDSU football primer: Jacks open playoffs with familiar foe Delaware

Everything to know ahead of SDSU's second-round playoff game on Saturday in Brookings

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South Dakota State University's Quinton Hicks (48) celebrates a sack during the Jacks' FCS semifinal playoff game against Delaware on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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BROOKINGS — South Dakota State football begins its playoff quest for a national championship on Saturday at Dykhouse Stadium, facing the University of Delaware, the team it defeated 18 months ago in the same venue during the spring NCAA FCS playoffs.

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Dykhouse Stadium, Brookings.

Records: SDSU 10-1; UD 8-4.

Coaches: SDSU: John Stiegelmeier, 26th season, 195-112; UD: Ryan Carty, first season, 8-4.

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Series history: The Jackrabbits and Blue Hens will meet for the third time on Saturday. Delaware won the first matchup in 2010 during the regular season, while SDSU won the FCS semifinal contest on May 8, 2021, in Brookings, a 33-3 Jacks win.

Last time out: SDSU won 31-7 over Illinois State on Nov. 12 in Brookings and then had the next two weekends off. Delaware won its Nov. 26 FCS playoff game against Saint Francis (Pa.) 56-17 in Newark, Delaware.

Notes:

  • Saturday's matchup will be a battle of top FCS defenses, with Delaware ranking third in the country in total defense (278.5 yards per game) and fourth in points per game at 16.2. SDSU's defense ranks No. 1 in rushing defense (71.4 yards per game), No. 2 nationally in total defense (255 yards per game) and third in scoring defense (15.5 points per game).
  • Weather is forecast to be a high of 26 and sunny on Saturday, with winds expected at 10 to 15 mph and gusting to 20 mph.
  • The game will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+.

About the Jackrabbits:

  • SDSU is 4-1 all-time against Colonial Athletic Association postseason opponents, with home wins over Villanova (both home and away), New Hampshire and Delaware and the lone loss in 2017 in the semifinals at James Madison.
  • In the May 2021 meeting, SDSU racked up seven sacks in the win over the Blue Hens. Over the last eight games this season, SDSU had 27 sacks, with 12 different players recording a sack this season for the Jacks.
  • The second half has told the story for the Jackrabbits for much of the season. SDSU has only allowed a touchdown on the first drive of the second half once (at Northern Iowa) and outscored opponents in the third quarter by an 88-23 margin and again 82-52 in the fourth quarter. SDSU is 8-0 when leading after three quarters.
  • The Jackrabbits are a perfect 6-0 at home this season and are on a nine-game home winning streak dating back to last season. SDSU is 40-7 in home games since Dykhouse Stadium opened in 2016, including 8-1 in the playoffs.
  • In December games since joining the FCS, SDSU is 7-8 all-time.

About the Blue Hens:

  • First-year head coach Ryan Carty has national championship pedigree for the Blue Hens. Carty was a quarterback for Delaware's 2003 national championship team and coached for Sam Houston when it defeated SDSU in spring 2021 for the FCS championship game.
  • Boasting a big defense, Delaware has allowed only one opposing passer to throw for more than 200 yards in a game this season.
  • In its first-round playoff win, Delaware had nine plays of 20 yards or more, adding to a season-long total of 54. Seventeen of those plays have gone for touchdowns. Quarterback Nolan Henderson threw for four touchdowns in the win and accounted for a rushing touchdown, as well.
  • Delaware is 8-1 this season when leading at halftime. All-time in the playoffs, Delaware is 25-16 but 7-9 in road games.
  • Former SDSU punter Ben Dinkel transferred to Delaware before the season. He is one of 12 transfers that joined the Delaware roster prior to the 2022 season. Dinkel is averaging 42.7 yards per punt on 35 kicks this season, with 14 pinned inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

Next week: The winner of this game takes on the New Hampshire/No. 8 Holy Cross winner on Dec. 9 or 10 in the FCS quarterfinals. If SDSU wins, the game will be in Brookings.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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