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Jackrabbits win over NDSU goes beyond hoisting the national title

Miranda Sampson
The Argus Leader
SDSU celebrates its first DI FCS National Championship

When South Dakota State University won the FCS National Championship on Sunday in Frisco, it became more than just winning the FCS’s highest honor. It was validation for the years and years of hard work, but most importantly, it proved that the Jackrabbits can truly be the best, and not just on paper.

For more than a decade, North Dakota State has been the leader, and everyone else, for the most part, have just walked in their shadow. It’s an enormous accomplishment to win a national championship, but to do it against the Bison, in a place that green and yellow fans like to call ‘Fargo South,’ well, it just makes the win so much bigger for SDSU fans.

The Jackrabbits had never beaten NDSU in FCS post-season play – coming into yesterday’s game, SDSU was 0-4 in such matchups. But a 45-21 victory on the biggest stage changed it all.

SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski threw three touchdowns and 223-yards. Amar Johnson and Isaiah Davis combined for 231 yards rushing and two scores, and defensively, the Jacks forced three turnovers, which crippled NDSU.

Back in the early 2000’s, when conversations started circulating about the potential for NDSU and SDSU to move up to DI in athletics, there were a lot of concerns on if the two schools could compete at the DI level. The Bison quickly became the living dynasty in football, winning nine national championships in eleven seasons. And while South Dakota State University was winning a lot of games and competing at a high level within the Missouri Valley Football conference too, NDSU was on another tier.

The Bison had never lost in Frisco, Texas up until Sunday against SDSU. With nine national titles, that’s a 9-0 record, coming into Sunday. It would have been a big deal for the Jacks to win a national championship against any opponent not named NDSU as well. But to win a national title against the rival Bison, and to do it at a venue and location so familiar with NDSU, that’s what makes it bigger.

While nobody knows what the future of Jackrabbit football will look like, or if they’ll ever win another national championship, one thing that SDSU fans can hang their hat on, for a year at least, is that they represent the 1 in NDSU’s 9-1 record in Frisco.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.