Jackrabbits earn No. 1 seed in FCS playoffs


(Kevin Maiers) South Dakota State running back Isaiah Davis runs the ball during a 34-10 win over Western Illinois on Oct. 1 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings.

SDSU will kick off its playoff run Dec. 3 against St. Francis or Delaware.

BROOKINGS — For weeks, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits knew that the path to Frisco would run through Brookings. On Sunday, they found out what that path looks like.

After weeks of speculation, the Jackrabbits were named the No. 1 seed in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and will open their run with a matchup with the winner of Saturday’s game between St. Francis (Pa.) and Delaware on Dec. 3 in Brookings.

While there wasn’t much suspense other than if the Jackrabbits would get the first or second seed, SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said that his team is simply happy to be in the position they are in.

“My only feeling today was that if we weren’t No. 1, our guys wouldn’t be disappointed,” Stiegelmeier said. “I wanted them to still be appreciative of the chance [to play in the playoffs because] how many teams don’t get to play? 100? They all have to put their pads away, so I’m just excited to be in the playoffs.”

Stigelemeier also acknowledged that this is the first time in school history that the Jackrabbits have earned the top seed in the FCS playoffs, but also noted that there were many teams before them to pave the way for this moment.

“It’s an accumulation of a lot of guys working hard,” Stigelmeier said. “It’s not just this team. It’s the teams that have gone before them and keep passing the baton. This is a really good football team and well-deserved, but I need to talk about the entire football family.”

The top four seeds were No. 2 Sacramento State, No. 3 North Dakota State and No. 4 Montana State. William & Mary (fifth), Samford (No. 6), University of the Incarnate Word (No. 7) and Holy Cross (No. 8) were also teams that earned first-round byes. 

The playoffs will begin with first-round matchups next Saturday before second-round matchups kick off on Dec. 3.