Sam Houston State vs. South Dakota State: FCS National Championship odds and preview

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May 11th, 2021

The Sam Houston State Bearkats are set to square off against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the FCS National Championship on Sunday, May 16. Let's breakdown the matchup and determine which team will come out on top.

Sun, May 16 2021, 6:00 PM

South Dakota State






O 47.5

Sam Houston State






U 47.5

South Dakota State's defense has been dominant

The 8-1 Jackrabbits opened as 4.5-point favorites in the title game. South Dakota State is led on offense by steady quarterback Mark Gronowski and reliable running back Pierre Strong. The team's offensive line is steady, and paves the way for an offense that was 18th in the FCS at 30.1 points per game.

It is the defense, however, that makes the Jackrabbits the betting favorites. With the third best defense in FCS surrendering just 14.1 points per game, they appear to be hitting their stride at the right time. South Dakota State held a Delaware squad that had been averaging 25 points per game to just a single field goal in a lopsided 33-3 victory.

Schmid has plenty of weapons on offense

The Bearkats enter Sunday's game with a perfect 9-0 record. Sam Houston State plays an exciting brand of football on both sides of the ball. Junior quarterback Eric Schmid is a playmaker with multiple weapons on the outside, and he can move the ball quickly up field. The Bearkats managed 38 points against James Madison, and knocked off North Dakota State in the quarterfinals.

On defense, the Bearkats are hardly as fearsome as their opponents, but they have forced an impressive 16 fumbles on the season. Both teams have won the turnover battle throughout the season.

South Dakota State has a clear advantage

When it comes to predicting a winner, it's easier to side with South Dakota State given its steady offense and reliable defense. Despite the electricity that Schmid and his wideouts bring, it is the Jackrabbits' offense that has been more effective in the red zone by scoring 97% of the time to Sam Houston State’s 85%.

South Dakota State had to mount a comeback against Illinois State to proceed to its semifinal game, but the Jackrabbits have generally been more reliable throughout the tournament. The Bearkats, meanwhile, were significantly outgained against James Madison, struggled on third down, and ran almost 20 less plays. Look for a similar outcome to befall the underdogs in this game.

Score prediction: South Dakota State 31, Sam Houston State 21

Pick: South Dakota State -4.5