Will SDSU Continue to Play Bracket-Buster?
Two unlikely opponents collide in my featured game this week: #5 seed Villanova Wildcats take on unseeded road warriors South Dakota State at 7pm BST. The Particulars: SDSU Jackrabbits (10-3) at #5 Villanova Wildcats (10-2). 7pm BST. Villanova Stadium (12,000). Villanova, Pennsylvania. ESPN+
Foregone Conclusion? A conference champion at 10-2, who’s also a #5 seed, versus an unseeded team that finished fifth in their conference? Based on those few facts, many may say Villanova is a virtual lock to win this tilt. After all, two of SDSU’s losses this season were to teams that finished 7-5 and 6-6, respectively. But this is not a game of mere numbers. This same Jacks team defeated #2 seed North Dakota State during the regular season and knocked off #4 seed Sacramento State last week in Round 2 of the FCS Playoffs. That proved a bit of nail-biter, as the Hornets chipped away at the Jacks’ 24-0 lead, only to fall short 24-19. Take that stew of facts together and SDSU is a bit of a wildcard. Not to mention they are a tough nut to crack on the road. Hold Up There, Buddy
Let’s not jump to any other conclusions, however. Villanova is the #5 seed for a reason. CAA Champs, a balanced offense that averages 205 passing yards and 175 rushing yards per game, and LB Forrest Rhyne, who has 131 tackles and 4.5 sacks to his credit (not to mention one of the best names in college football.) Both teams QBs have 22 passing TD this season: SDSU’s Chris Oludokun has 2,697 passing yards to Daniel Smith’s 2,296. Nova’s Rayjoun Pringle has amassed 724 receiving yards and 7 TD. And then there’s Pierre Strong, SDSU’s excellent running back. He has racked up 1,575 rushing yards and 17 TD. Also keep an eye on LB Adam Bock, who has 112 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2 INTs for the Jackrabbits.
What’s At Stake? The winner of this match-up will face off in the Semifinal round against the winner of #6 Montana at #3 James Madison. That game is Friday night at 7pm EST. In previous articles I’ve encouraged my UK readers to give the FCS a shot. If you’ve followed these games so far, you’ve seen some surprising things, no doubt. Hopefully you’ve been pleasantly surprised and will see the outstanding games to their January conclusion.