Inside the Missouri Valley: For FCS season, history is on SDSU's side after loss to Iowa

·5 min read

Sep. 6—For South Dakota State, the unconventional, two-safety, 7-3 loss was a heartbreaker.

Despite the loss, though, not all is bad in Brookings. In fact, history may actually be on the side of the Jackrabbits.

Historically, FBS schools have beat up on FCS schools. It's the nature of why bigger schools pay the smaller schools to come play and part of the long-held college football food chain, as seen below. Even the best FCS schools have struggled against some of the lower-level Power 5 programs, so SDSU's loss doesn't come as much of a surprise, especially given the Jackrabbits were roughly 10-point underdogs at kickoff.

But no FCS team to appear in the championship game has beaten an FBS team since eventual FCS runner-up James Madison beat East Carolina 34-14 in 2017. And before that it was since 2014 when NDSU beat Iowa State and went on to win the championship.

As a matter of fact, many of the teams playing in FCS championships lost to their respective FBS opponents that year. In 2021, Montana State lost to Wyoming 19-16 before going on to beat the Jackrabbits in the semifinals to advance to the FCS title game. In 2019, when James Madison lost to NDSU in the title game, the Dukes fell to West Virginia 20-13 in Morgantown.

A loss to an FBS school isn't the end of the world, and even when FCS schools manage the upset, it doesn't guarantee anything.

Who can forget when Easton Stick led the Bison to a win over Iowa in 2016 at Kinnick Stadium? The Hawkeyes were ranked No. 13 in the nation at the time and the win put NDSU into the spotlight so much that the Bison received 74 votes in the AP Poll and were the de facto No. 27 team in the country, the closest any FCS team has ever come to being in the top 25.

But the Bison didn't win the title that year. In fact, the Bison didn't even make it to the title game, falling in the semifinals to the eventual champion James Madison.

On top of that, last year, Eastern Washington, Montana, SDSU, UC Davis and Holy Cross all made the playoffs after wins over an FBS school. Yet none of those teams made it to the finals and only SDSU made it to the semifinals.

The stretch of teams to not beat an FBS team and make the FCS championship will face a real test this year when NDSU, who hasn't played against an FBS team since beating Iowa in 2016, takes on Arizona. The Bison sit at the top of the Stats Perform Top 25 poll with 52 of the 54 possible first-place votes, and could even be favored in the matchup when they go to Tucson.

However, for as much as SDSU and its fans would've liked to put the feather in their caps of beating an FBS team for a second straight year, recent history shows it just stings now for Jackrabbit country, but doesn't matter nearly as much come December.

Thursday, Sept. 1

Indiana State 17, North Alabama 14 OT

UT Martin 42, Western Illinois 25

Missouri State 27, Central Arkansas 14

Saturday, Sept. 3

Iowa 7, SDSU 3

Air Force 48, UNI 17

NDSU 56, Drake 14

Nebraska 38, UND 17

Youngstown State 31, Duquesne 14

Incarnate Ward 64, Southern Illinois 29

Wisconsin 38, Illinois State 0

Kansas State 34, USD 0

One top performance from the conference for the week:

Youngstown State's Jaleel McLaughlin had a monster game against Duquesne on Saturday, racking up 20 carries for 203 yards and three touchdowns, one of which he hurdled over a defender at the goal line for.

He also added a pair of catches for 9 yards in the Penguins' 31-14 win on top of a game-long run of 54 yards that he took for a score late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

Rankings are from Stats Perform FCS Top 25.

Thursday, Sept. 8

No. 14 UT Martin at No. 5 Missouri State, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 10

Western Illinois at Minnesota, 11 a.m.

USD at No. 3 Montana, 2:30 p.m.

NC A&T State at No. 1 NDSU, 2:30 p.m.

No. 24 UNI at UND, 3 p.m.

Indiana State at Purdue, 3 p.m.

Dayton at Youngstown State, 3 p.m.

UC Davis at No. 2 SDSU, 6 p.m.

Southeast Missouri State at No. 17 Southern Illinois, 6 p.m.

Valparaiso at Illinois State, 6:30 p.m.

The lone Thursday night tilt may be the best contest of the week in the MVFC. With No. 5 Missouri State coming off a 13-point win over Central Arkansas, the Bears will look to solidify their No. 5 ranking when No. 14 UT Martin comes to town. The Skyhawks are fresh off a win over another MVFC team in Western Illinois. With both teams set to take on FBS opponents next week — Missouri State takes on Arkansas while UT Martin plays Boise State — they'll be looking to stay hot and keep the confidence high with a big FCS win beforehand.

* Former NDSU tackle Joe Haeg signed a contract with the Cleveland Browns on Monday, Sept. 5. Haeg was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

* Another former Bison is on the move in the NFL, as linebacker Derrek Tuszka was claimed off waivers by Tennessee on Friday, Sept. 2. The 2020 seventh-round pick recorded 18 tackles, 2.0 sacks and forced a fumble with the Steelers.

* Former Youngstown State tight end Kevin Rader was signed to the Titans' practice squad on Thursday, Sept. 1

* Craig James, who played for Southern Illinois, signed with the Jets practice squad on Thursday.

* The Vikings signed former UND wide receiver Tracus Toivonen to their practice squad on Thursday.