It's been an unorthodox season for the FCS college football programs around the country. Instead of playing in the fall, teams didn't kick off until spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. And that means a national champion still hasn't been crowned.
That will soon change, and it's not much of a surprise which two teams will be facing off for the title. South Dakota State and Sam Houston State are set to go head-to-head Sunday afternoon at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
South Dakota State was the No. 1 overall seed for the FCS playoffs, while Sam Houston State was the No. 2 seed. The Jackrabbits and Bearkats avoided upsets, winning three straight playoff games to get to this point.
Here's everything else you need to know about Sunday's championship game.
Date: Sunday, May 16
Start Time: 2 p.m. ET
Spread: South Dakota State (-5)
Over/Under: 47.5 total points
Moneyline: South Dakota State -205 (bet $205 to win $100); Sam Houston State +155 (bet $100 to win $155)
Together, South Dakota State and Sam Houston State have combined for only one loss this year, so it's clear that these have been the country's top two teams during this unorthodox season.
South Dakota State lost its second game of the year at North Dakota and then rattled off four wins in a row to finish the regular season at 5-1. The Jackrabbits have rolled through the playoffs on the strength of their offense, scoring at least 31 points in each of their three postseason victories.
In South Dakota State's semifinal matchup against Delaware on May 8, it cruised to a 33-3 win after building a 24-point lead by halftime. The Jackrabbits, who are in the playoffs for the ninth straight season, consequently reached the championship game for the first time in program history.
"We're excited to be in the final. It's been the goal of our program for a long time," South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier said, per Stephen Hawkins of the Associated Press. "We're not giddy excited, where you feel like you've accomplished the goal. ... The goal is to be 1-0 in Frisco, Texas."
Stiegelmeier is in his 24th season as Jackrabbits head coach. And while it's been the most unorthodox, it could also end up being his most successful, should South Dakota State win Sunday's game.
But the Jackrabbits are going to face a tough challenge. Sam Houston State enters with a 9-0 record and will be looking to finish off an undefeated campaign. And it's been an impressive run by the Bearkats to make it this deep into the postseason.
Sam Houston State opened the playoffs with a 21-15 win over Monmouth. Then it defeated North Dakota State, which had won the past three national titles and eight of the past nine, in the second round. The Bearkats took down the Bison 24-20.
In the semifinals on May 8, Sam Houston State overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to beat James Madison 38-35. Now, the Bearkats are looking to win their first national title in the FCS era. It's their third appearance in the championship game, having previously made it in 2011 and 2012.
"This [game] is the one where you get the gold ring," Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler said, per Andrew Holtan of the Brookings Register. "This is the one where it's the ultimate goal for everyone who plays this sport."
South Dakota State's offense is led by true freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski, who is a dual threat and can pose challenges for opposing defenses. He's passed for 1,549 yards and 15 touchdowns while also rushing for 567 yards and seven touchdowns.
Sam Houston State's offense also features a quarterback capable of contributing both through the air and on the ground. Redshirt junior Eric Schmid has passed for 2,021 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 278 yards and five touchdowns.
So there's the potential for plenty of scoring in the championship game. And while South Dakota State is the favorite, this matchup could go either way. Expect it to be a competitive contest that may come down to the wire, as one of these teams will finish the FCS playoffs as champions for the first time.
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