Big Sky ConferenceMontana Grizzlies


Taking a look at No. 1 South Dakota State's championship-caliber team, run

South Dakota State championship
Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 04, 2024

FRISCO, Texas — For years, South Dakota State was forced to live under the shadow of the dynastic North Dakota State Bison, as did the entire Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The Jackrabbits jumped to the FCS in 2004 and had their first playoff appearance against Montana in 2009, but in the 2010s, the Jackrabbits began to crack through and advanced to a pair of semifinals where they fell to the rival Bison.

SDSU lost in the pandemic-afflicted spring championship game to Sam Houston State in 2021, but after getting halted by Montana State in the fall of 2021 in the semifinals, SDSU finally reached the mountaintop a season ago with a win over NDSU in the title game for the program's first FCS crown.

They've carried it into this year, as the Jackrabbits are on a 28-game winning streak. Their last loss? How about at Iowa to open the 2022 season by the score of 7-3.

From there, they've rolled with 28 straight, including three victories over NDSU and two over Montana State in that stretch.

This year's team, to put it mildly, is stacked.

Quarterback Mark Gronowski and running back Isaiah Davis were named the co-offensive players of the year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference as arguably the top players at their respective positions in the nation, and they lead an offense that averages 38.4 points and 456.1 yards per game.

The Jackrabbits also possess the top defense in the nation, as they allow just under 10 points per game, and are one of the top teams in turnover margins at plus-15, as they also hold teams to around 257 yards per game.

In total, SDSU had 18 all-conference selections this season as they dominated their way to a 14-0 record to get to Frisco.

Along with Gronowski and Davis, WR Jadon Janke, fullback Mike Morgan, tight end Zach Heins, offensive linemen Garret Greenfield, Mason McCormick and Gus Miller, defensive linemen Cade Terveer and Ryan Van Marel, linebackers Jason Freeman and Isaiah Stalbird, defensive backs Tucker Large and Dyshawn Gales, all-purpose performer Amar Johnson, punter Hunter Dustman and lone snapper Kaydon Olivia all received postseason conference awards. Large also was named all-league as a return specialist as well.

And to top it all off, the Jackrabbits are 0-8 all-time against the Grizzlies, including 0-2 in the playoffs, adding another milestone they aim to achieve come Sunday afternoon as they look to cap off another magical season.