The No. 1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits will face the No. 3 North Dakota State Bison in a huge rivalry matchup in the 2023 FCS championship game Jan. 8 in Frisco, Texas, following a 39-18 win over No. 4 Montana State on Saturday.
South Dakota State is back in the championship game for the first time since 2020 and is looking for its first title in program history.
The Bison, meanwhile, have been the most dominant team in the FCS over the last decade-plus. They clinched a berth in the FCS title game for the 10th time in the past 12 seasons with a 35-32 win over Incarnate Word on Friday.
North Dakota State is aiming to win its 10th FCS title, all of which have come since 2011.
Here's a look at the schedule for the championship game and a deeper dive into each program's playoff run.
No. 1 South Dakota State vs. No. 3 North Dakota State: Saturday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. ET
Tale of the Tape
The rivalry between South Dakota State and North Dakota State dates all the way back to 1903. The Jackrabbits dominated play through 1963, but since then, the Bison have been in command despite three straight losses dating back to the 2021 season.
North Dakota State leads the series against South Dakota State 63-45-5.
The Jackrabbits and Bison met Oct. 15, and South Dakota won 23-21 after trailing 21-7 entering halftime. SDSU scored on all four of its second-half possessions and kept NDSU off the board after halftime to claim the win.
The Jackrabbits and Bisons have met in the FCS playoffs four times—2012 second round, 2014 second round, 2016 quarterfinals and 2018 semifinals—and North Dakota State won each matchup.
South Dakota State's Run to the Final
As the No. 1 seed, South Dakota State earned a first-round bye after going 10-1 in the regular season.
They began their run to the title game with a 42-6 win over Delaware in the second round behind a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance from running back Isaiah Davis.
The Jackrabbits then defeated No. 8 Holy Cross 42-21 in the quarterfinals behind a respectable performance from quarterback Mark Gronowski, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 47 yards and one score.
In Saturday's semifinal matchup against No. 4 Montana State, SDSU won 39-18 on another three-touchdown performance by Gronowski, who passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another score.
Gronowski and Davis have been SDSU's biggest performers this postseason, and the Jackrabbits will need both to be at their best if they want to claim the title over North Dakota State.
North Dakota State's Run to the Final
North Dakota State secured a first-round bye and the No. 3 seed after going 9-2 in the regular season.
The Bison earned a 49-26 win over Montana in the second round behind brilliant rushing performances from running backs Kobe Johnson (206 yards, two touchdowns) and TaMerik Williams (101 yards, one touchdown).
From there, NDSU defeated No. 9 Samford 27-9 in the quarterfinals behind a two-touchdown performance by Cam Miller. The quarterback completed 15 of 18 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown, in addition to rushing for 21 yards and a score.
In Friday's semifinal matchup against No. 7 Incarnate Word, North Dakota State won 35-32 thanks to a three-touchdown performance from Johnson.
The Bison offense has been somewhat one-dimensional this postseason as Miller has thrown for just 257 yards in three games. The running game has been outstanding, but the passing game needs to get going if NDSU hopes to claim another title.