Anyone who follows the entire landscape of Division I football knows the top of the FCS is better than any mediocre FBS team. After two FCS over FBS wins Thursday, South Dakota State showed just how much better an elite FCS team is compared to a struggling FBS program, 22 fewer scholarships and all.
The Jackrabbits destroyed Colorado State 42-23 Friday night in a game that saw SDSU hold 35-10 and 42-16 leads. Not only did they get the win and a helluva playoff resume booster, they got a $450,000 guaranteed payout.
The rest of the FCS has certainly taken notice.
SDSU, preseason ranked No. 3, faced some offseason doubts in the FCS community after reaching the national championship during the spring season. Freshman All-American quarterback Mark Gronowski got hurt on the first drive of the title game. Even with no threat of a passing attack, SDSU nearly won before Sam Houston scored a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
With Gronowski’s injury sidelining him this fall, SDSU went to the transfer portal and landed Chris Oladokun, who is a grad transfer. The general thought was he just needs to be above-average, and SDSU has a serious chance at winning the national title.
Well, Oladokun was more than above-average in his debut game at CSU. He was electric. Oh, and it was his 24th birthday as well.
Oladokun finished 18-of-28 for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Some of those incompletions were drops. He showed poise under pressure, accuracy, the ability to throw on the run, dual-threat capabilities, and a full command of the offense.
The Jacks have everything else in place to be the best team in the FCS. SDSU’s defense is a top-five unit in the subdivision. Pierre Strong Jr. is the best running back in the FCS, running behind the best offensive line. And RB No. 2 Isaiah Davis was a freshman All-American in the spring.
Along with all-around solid tight ends, SDSU has two good WRs in the Janke twins. Jadon had six catches for 92 yards and two TDs against CSU, and Jaxon caught three passes for 58 yards. Strong rushed for 135 yards on 12 carries (11.3 average) and two scores.
It may be hard for some voters to move the defending champs SHSU out of No. 1 if the Bearkats stay undefeated. The Kats have a good shot to go 10-0. But SDSU has a legit argument to be voted the top team in the FCS after this week, or if they keep looking this impressive into the MVFC slate if voters want to be more patient.
The Jackrabbits were a play-making quarterback away from winning a national title in the spring. Oladokun is exactly that this fall.