FCS Playoff Preview: #5 South Dakota State Hosts Duquesne
It will be a pair of impressive win streaks on the line when South Dakota State opens play in the 2018 FCS Playoffs Saturday (December 1) in Brookings.
The Jackrabbits (8-2), the number-five seed in the 24-team field, are perfect in home playoff games all-time (4-0) and, after a bye week, host a Duquesne team that's won six straight.
The Dukes (9-3), out of the Northeast Conference, are riding high after their first ever playoff win, a 31-10 victory at Towson in round one. Duquesne was the only road to win an opening round game.
Junior running back A.J. Hines leads the Dukes offense. The 2016 FCS Freshman of the Year and 2018 NEC Offensive Player of the Year was third in the nation with 1,499 rushing yards this season. The 5'11, 225 pounder is sixth in FCS in all-purpose yards and accounted for 246 yards from scrimmage (175 rush/71 receiving) in the Towson win.
During Duquesne's current winning streak, Hines is averaging 182 yards rushing, scoring nine running touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Daniel Parr is a first-year starter. The Florida Atlantic transfer has settled in after throwing three interceptions in the season opener. Since then he's tossed 19 touchdowns and just six picks. Parr led the NEC in passing efficiency this season (62%).
His favorite target is senior wide receiver Nehari Crawford. The top receiver in the NEC has over 2,600 yards in his career.
The offensive line has four seniors and has opened up some big holes for Hines but has also allowed the most sacks in the Northeast Conference (25).
Defensively, junior linebacker Brett Zanatto leads the way. The Maryland transfer has 79 tackles. Senior cornerback Johathant Istache leads the NEC in passes defended (18) and interceptions (4).
Duquesne was the second-least penalized team in the Northeast Conference in 2018 (53 yards per game).
Kickoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
South Dakota State and Duquesne opened the 2017 season with a 51-13 SDSU win in Brookings.
The Jackrabbits scored the first 34 points of the game and racked up over 600 yards of total offense on the day. Quarterback Taryn Christion threw for 254 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 96 yards.
The Dukes had just 259 yards of total offense and the SDSU defense limited Hines to 34 yards in 13 carries (2.6 yards per carry). It is the second fewest yards Hines has rushed for in his career since he gained just 19 yards at Youngstown State in 2016 in his first collegiate game.
I talked with SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier about the bye week and Saturday's match-up with Duquesne: