FCS Playoff Game Breakdown: Northern Iowa at South Dakota State

Northern Iowa at South Dakota State
Anybody questioning Northern Iowa’s defense needs to look at the effort put up against San Diego. Yes, The Toreros are a non-scholarship team from the Pioneer League, but they averaged 41 points per game this season, including 34 and 35 against two non-conference Big Sky opponents. What’s disturbing is how poorly the Panthers offense was against a non-scholarship defense. 268 yards and an abysmal 1-12 on 3rd down is bad against anyone. The 17-3 win is also skewed since the first touchdown was by their defense. The Panthers injury news feed reads like a triage center from an episode of M*A*S*H. The offense has been very inconsistent and now they go on the road, where they were beaten badly just a few weeks ago.
South Dakota State had a week off to get healthier. Seeing the bracket they probably assumed they’d get their Missouri Valley Football Conference brothers in the Second Round. Are the Jackrabbits invincible? No. But quarterback Keaton Heide has filled in admirably. In his game against Northern Iowa two weeks ago, he was 15-16 passing. It was a dink and dunk effort, but they moved the chains. The defense had a little trouble stopping the Panthers running game, but in the end, they won the battle of attrition.
Considering the health issues for UNI and the extra week’s rest for SDSU, it’s hard to see a different result than what happened just two week ago, in the same venue. Still, this is a conference rematch. And UNI has had recent success in Brookings. It just doesn’t look like it’ll be that way this time around.
Prediction: South Dakota State 17, Northern Iowa 10