2023 FCS Championship Game Picks & Predictions: North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State

Jan 6, 2023 - 11:40 AM

In a highly anticipated national championship game on Sunday, two longtime rivals listed numbers one and two in the rankings entering the 2022 FCS season will face off against one another at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX.

The defending national champion North Dakota State, a dynasty vying for its tenth FCS championship in the past twelve years, is an increasingly heavy underdog. With a victory over the Bison in the middle of the season, South Dakota State, which forfeited its chance to play in the spring 2021 title game, climbed to the top of the rankings. They now have an FCS-best winning streak of 13 games, which many are now noticing in their backing of the Jackrabbits.

What does that mean for the Missouri Valley matchup in the 45th FCS Championship game? Let’s dive in.

(Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook)

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FCS Championship Game Odds, Picks & Predictions: North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State


  • Opening Line: South Dakota State -4.5 | O/U 47.5
  • Current Line: South Dakota State -5.5 | O/U 47.5
  • Last meeting: October 15, 2022 – NDSU 21, SDSU 23


When playing Incarnate Word in the semifinals, North Dakota State (12-2) was up against a formidable opponent. The Cardinals destroyed the Bisons’ defense by passing for 282 yards and rushing for another 257 yards. However, the Bison running game (328 yards) allowed the offense to manage the time, while the defense shut down the Incarnate Word offense when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. In the end,  the Bison won 35-32, coming back after falling behind 16-0 in the first quarter.

For South Dakota State, their opponent in the semifinals was not as challenging. The SDS run game gained 282 total yards, and Montana State could not punch back with just 52 yards of their own. The Jackrabbits led 28-9 at the half and went on to win 39-18 with remarkable ease.

With a playoff record of 44-3 in FCS, North Dakota State is essentially invincible on paper. Their lone postseason loss in the past three years came to Sam Houston State in the 2020 quarterfinals, and they have never dropped a game in the FCS Championship.

Bottom Line

South Dakota State’s Jackrabbits have outperformed their rivals this season on defense, all while scoring enough points offensively to win games. Although their offense isn’t terrible, the team’s defense has been the key to their success this season.

Although stopping the Bison run attack will be difficult, the Jackrabbits did manage to limit ND State to just 127 rushing yards in their previous encounter. In that game, SD State’s defense held North Dakota State without a point in the second half while the offense scored on each of its possessions after falling down 21-7 at the half.

While this is certainly not the SDS of the past, these two are two closely matched for more than a field goal spread.

Pick: North Dakota State +5.5

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