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Southern Illinois vs South Dakota State FCS Quarterfinal Picks and Odds

Brady Trettenero

by Brady Trettenero in College Football

Apr 29, 2021 · 6:35 AM PDT

Jaxon Janke SDSU
South Dakota State wide receiver Jaxon Janke during an NCAA football game against Minnesota Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton- King)
  • No. 1 South Dakota State hosts Southern Illinois in the FCS quarterfinals on Sunday, May 2nd
  • The Jackrabbits beat the Salukis by a 44-3 score in the regular season on March 20th
  • Read below for the odds, spread and betting preview

No. 1 South Dakota State will look to punch its ticket to the 2021 FCS playoff semifinals when they host Southern Illinois in the quarterfinals on Sunday, May 2nd (9:00 pm EST). The Jackrabbits are being listed as 16.5-point favorites at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

SDSU is coming off a commanding playoff win over Holy Cross, while SIU pulled off a small upset over Weber State. When these two Missouri Valley Conference teams met back in March, it was all South Dakota State in a 44-3 victory.

Will Mark Gronowski and the Jackrabbits have their way once again, or do the Salukis have value to pull off an upset?

Southern Illinois vs South Dakota State Odds

Team Spread at DraftKings Moneyline Total
Southern Illinois +16.5 (-112) +460 O 54.5 (-112)
South Dakota State -16.5 (-109) -670 U 54.5 (-109)

Odds as of Apr. 28th

Jackrabbits Ran Over Crusaders

South Dakota State (6-1) has taken over as the favorite in the updated 2021 FCS National Championship odds after blowing out Holy Cross in Round 1 of the playoffs. The Jackrabbits rushed for almost 300 yards while allowing under 200 yards of total offense in a 31-3 victory. Isaiah Davis ran for 156 yards, while QB Mark Gronowski threw three TD passes.

South Dakota State is every bit deserving of being the most heavily favored team in the FCS quarterfinals. They’ve been dominating teams offensively with their explosive ground attack while frustrating opposing offenses with their elite defensive unit. SDSU has won five straight games, including a 27-17 victory over reigning National Champion North Dakota State on April 17th.

The Jackrabbits ranks sixth in the country in rushing offense (240 YPG) and should have no problem keeping the momentum going against a weak Salukis rush defense that ranks 80th in the country with over 200 yards per game allowed. In SDSU’s blowout win over SIU on March 20th, the Jackrabbits rushed for almost 400 yards.

Salukis Upset Wildcats 

Southern Illinois (6-3) will be playing for a semifinals berth Sunday thanks to a 34-31 upset victory over No. 3 Weber State in round one of the playoffs. Quarterback Stone Labanowitz connected with wide receiver Branson Combs to score the game-winning touchdown on fourth down with just 52 seconds remaining.

The victory over Weber State marked the second time this season that the Salukis have taken down a top national contender. Back in late-February, SIU was able to beat NDSU, 38-14, by controlling the clock and forcing a few key turnovers. Southern Illinois possessed the ball for a whopping 41:26, running 73 plays to the Bison’s 45.

Controlling the clock and winning the turnover battle will be the key to Southern Illinois keeping it close against the Jackrabbits on Sunday. The Salukis rank 41st nationally in time of possession and have forced 11 turnovers. If they can win the battle in the trenches, Labanowitz and the passing game are efficient enough to give SIU a shot.

What’s the Best Bet?

The spread being so large for this quarterfinal matchup tells you a lot about these two teams on paper. South Dakota State is clearly the better team in every facet and rolled when these two teams played in March. But the Salukis are thriving in the underdog role and have more than shown the ability to stick with top teams.

South Dakota State has been just too dominant to bet against them on home turf Sunday. There might be value on SIU in the rematch if they had showed an improved ability to stop the run, but they just got torched by Weber State for over 200 rushing yards last weekend. Pierre Strong didn’t even play in the first game when the Jackrabbits dominated.

One eye-popping stat for South Dakota State is they have converted on 23 of 24 trips to the red zone. They’re going up against a Southern Illinois team that ranks 76th in red-zone defense (.881). The score might be a tad bit closer this time as the Salukis make some adjustments, but the Jackrabbits’ elite defensive front will hold up and the run game will go rampant once again against a weak SIU defense.

  • Pick: South Dakota State -16.5 (-109)

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