FCS Playoffs Second Round
The Matchup - Villanova (9-3) at No. 8 seed South Dakota State (8-3)
Kickoff - 3 p.m. ET at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium (19,360) in Brookings, South Dakota
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - First meeting
Players to Watch - Villanova: QB Zach Bednarczyk (158 of 261, 1,938 yards, 18 TDs, 10 INTs; 114 carries, 510 yards, 2 TDs), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (45 TT, 21.5 TFL, 11 sacks), S Rob Rolle (61 TT, 7 INTs, 5 PBU); South Dakota State: QB Taryn Christion (246 of 384, 3,369 yards, 29 TDs, 8 INTs), WR Jake Wieneke (70 receptions, 1,204 yards, 16 TDs), TE Dallas Goedert (78 receptions, 1,146 yards, 10 TDs)
The Skinny - Villanova again seeks to extend coach Andy Talley's 32nd and final season with the Wildcats, who tied for second place in CAA Football. Last week's 31-21 win over Saint Francis in the first round defined the Wildcats' style - a good mix of the run and pass to control game clock and an aggressive defense that kept sending the opposing offense to the sideline. Kpassagnon, fellow DE Bryan Osei and LB Jeff Steeb combined for six sacks in the win. Villanova has held seven of its 12 opponents under 300 yards. The offense has three players over 500 rushing yards (Aaron Forbes, Javon White and Bednarczyk) yet Matt Gudzak (447 yards) may be their go-to back at this point. The lefty Bednarczyk has a strong arm, even better than 2014 Walter Payton Award winner John Robertson, according to Talley. South Dakota State's trio of Christion (Missouri Valley Football Conference offensive player of the year), Goedert and Wieneke have been unstoppable in the No. 8 passing offense in the FCS (314.4 ypg), although a cold day in Brookings may dictate the Jackrabbits getting production from leading rusher Brady Mengarelli (700 yards, 3 TDs). The defense is strong up the middle and features leading tacklers Christian Rozeboom (107 TT) and Jesse Bobbit (95 TT) at linebacker. The Jackrabbits have their own venerable coach, John Stiegelmeier, in his 20th season. This is their first season playing at Dykhouse Stadium.
Up Next - The winner will play either San Diego (10-1) or No. 1 seed North Dakota State (10-1) in the quarterfinals Dec. 9 or 10.
Prediction - While Villanova's defense is playing at a high level, the Wildcats' offense will not keep up enough with the Jackrabbits'. South Dakota State, 24-21.