For a short period of time, it appeared South Dakota State's talk of national championship aspirations seemed premature. The Jackrabbits started conference play 1-2 and just didn't look explosive offensively. Well, it's safe to say they are back in the national championship picture, taking it to North Dakota State 33-21 in Brookings.
Any talks of the Jacks not being able to match NDSU physically can be put to rest. They "NDSUed" the Bison by controlling the fourth quarter, chewing up the clock. And they did it on the ground with big plays sparked by the big three of quarterback Taryn Christion, tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receiver Jake Wieneke.
Yes, NDSU's turnovers cost them big time. The Bison didn't look like a championship team. But give credit to the Jacks. They took advantage of those turnovers like a good team should. NDSU, who had the top passing defense in the FCS coming in, couldn't figure out SDSU's passing attack.
Pressure wasn't an issue. Christion's elusiveness proved tricky, as several times he escaped the grasp of Bison defenders and found receivers wide open downfield.
— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) November 4, 2017
If the Jacks continue to play like this and not suffer an NDSU hangover, they will be a scary team in the playoffs. Now 7-2 with two tough games against Illinois State and South Dakota, SDSU is eyeing a playoff seed once again this season. And all of a sudden, those national title goals don't seem so premature anymore.
And yes, as for the Bison. They'll be just fine. If they win out and get two more ranked wins, also against USD and Illinois State, that's a 10-1 record with six ranked wins and a loss to a playoff team. Not to mention NDSU remains in solo first place of the best conference in the FCS after USD and Illinois State lost today. That's a resume of a Top 2 seed.
But for now, this day belongs to the Jacks. Chances are these two teams meet up again in the playoffs. The Bison avenged last season's loss with a dominating 36-10 win in the quarterfinals. Will NDSU have five turnovers again in that potential game? Probably not. But it looks like SDSU's offense is rolling good enough to defeat anyone in the country.