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November 21, 2012 09:55 PM

SDSU Playoff Game Competes With Break

Brookings, SD

Many SDSU students will be cutting short their Thanksgiving vacations to take part in college football history.  This weekend's Jackrabbit game against Eastern Illinois will be the first NCAA Division One football playoff game ever held in South Dakota.  Fans are re-adjusting their Thanksgiving plans to be in the stands on Saturday.

Students have nearly deserted the SDSU campus for Thanksgiving break, but school spirit hasn't taken a leave of absence.

"I have never been so into football.  I've gone to all the games so far and it's been awesome," SDSU freshman Allie Gustafson said.

One SDSU band member will making a quick Thanksgiving turnaround from her hometown in the Twin Cities, marching back to Brookings by Saturday.

"It will be hard to leave my family, but it's for the Jackrabbits," SDSU senior Sarah Flake said.

The athletic department expects about 10,000 fans for Saturday's playoff game.  That's down about 5,000 from the USD game played here last weekend.   But the fan base has been whittled-away because of Thanksgiving vacation.

"It's a little bit of a hindrance just because the students are gone, but we're hoping by Saturday they're ready to come back to campus and really be part of this first playoff game," Associate Athletic Director Leon Costello said.

Students who will return to school early don't mind missing out on a couple of days of Thanksgiving leftovers to feast on playoff football.

"First NCAA game that we've ever hosted here at state, which is pretty exciting.  Yay! Go Jackrabbits," Flake said.

Some Brookings businesses have purchased tickets to the game that they'll give away to students to help ensure a strong turnout on Saturday.

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