Get our free mobile app

South Dakota State begins defense of its national championship Saturday afternoon by hosting Mercer in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Central Time at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The game will be televised exclusively on the ESPN+ streaming platform (subscription required).

The Jackrabbits, who are the top seed in the 24-team field and have been atop both major Football Championship Subdivision polls all season, enter Saturday's game with an 11-0 overall record after earning the Missouri Valley Football Conference automatic bid after completing a perfect 8-0 mark in league play.

SDSU, which received a first-round bye in making its 12th consecutive appearance in the FCS playoffs, ended the regular season unbeaten and untied for the first time in the program's 125-year history.

Mercer, which is located in Macon, Georgia, enters Saturday's matchup with a 9-3 overall record, including a 6-2 mark in the Southern Conference. The Bears made their inaugural appearance in the FCS playoffs a successful one by downing Gardner-Webb, 17-7, on Nov. 25.

The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the quarterfinal round and face the winner between Youngstown State and eighth-seeded Villanova on either Dec. 8 or 9.

THE SERIES: Saturday's game will mark the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between SDSU and Mercer.

The Jackrabbits have yet to face a current member of the Southern Conference. SDSU played four games against former SoCon member Georgia Southern between 2004-09, with the Jackrabbits winning the final meeting between the two squads, 44-6, on Sept. 12, 2009.

South Dakota Born NFL Players of this Century

While not a traditional powerhouse Nation Football League feeder, South Dakota has produces a fair number of football players that went on to the big time in the NFL.

Here are some that have played on various teams over the last couple of decades.

LOOK: Best counties to raise a family in South Dakota

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to raise a family in South Dakota.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

More From KSOO-AM / ESPN Sioux Falls