After a 31-8 victory over South Dakota, the No. 21 South Dakota State Jackrabbits proved Saturday, that their renewed rivalry was business, taken personally.
"We went into the game wanting to make the postseason," sophomore running back Zach Zenner said. "Our team took it one game at a time with what was at stake. However, the rivalry did add a little more to it."
The win put SDSU at 8-3 and helped them earn a birth to the FCS Playoffs. For the first time ever, the Rabbits will serve as a playoff host, to the Ohio Valley Champion, Eastern Illinois Panthers.
"This is a big deal for us," coach John Stiegelmeier said. "If we do everything we are supposed to do and assuming we make it next season, this can only help us. It is tremendous."
With a veteran-laden squad, including 15 seniors, the Jacks say they are ready to play despite being in unfamiliar territory, their first postseason game since 2009.
"Some teams are giddy going into this game," Stiegelmeier said. "I told the guys, this is only an opportunity to play a game. They responded by saying, "We know coach, we will be ready."
The prize for the winner, a shot with No. 1 North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D. The site of SDSU's 20-17 loss just two weeks ago.
"Which bracket we are in and who we play later doesn't matter," Stiegelmeier said. "We need to focus on the game ahead and watch film on our opponent."
In Brookings, Dylan Scott KSFY Sports.