SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It will be a football-filled Saturday in South Dakota.
For the first time, both South Dakota and South Dakota State will both host Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff contests. The Jackrabbits, making their 11th postseason appearance in 13 years in the FCS, host UC Davis at 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
Three hours later, the Coyotes, making their second postseason appearance in the FCS, will host Southern Illinois at 5 p.m. in the DakotaDome. This is the first time South Dakota has hosted an FCS playoff game and the first playoff college football game at the DakotaDome since 1986.
At the FCS level, the final 24 teams of 128 programs reach the playoffs. The top eight teams earn a guaranteed home game and a first-round bye, while the remaining 16 teams submit bids to host a playoff game.
“It’s more or less a forecast of what you think the amount of fans you’ll get at the game,” South Dakota Athletic Director David Herbster said. “I was aggressive but I didn’t go overboard either. I was realistic. We’ve filled enough of these in the past.”
Herbster said the bidding process is similar to other postseason basketball tournaments like the WNIT and CBI.
“I did want to make sure that we did everything we could to ensure ourselves an opportunity to at least have a home game,” Herbster said.
SDSU head coach John Stielgelmeier said there’s a lot of positives when it comes to hosting a playoff game and he thanked the athletic department for winning a bid.
“We know where we’re playing and what we need to do,” Stiegelmeier said this week. “We’re a home team because our administration stepped up and put in a good bid.”
This is SDSU’s 10th straight postseason appearance and the Jackrabbits have hosted nine FCS playoff games and are 7-1 in home playoff games since moving into Dykhouse Stadium in 2016.
Busy week in Vermillion
The last time the Coyotes hosted a home playoff football game, Herbster said he was still in high school and that’s why he’s encouraging as many fans as possible to support the football team on Saturday.
“You can’t take a playoff game for granted,” Herbster said. “It’s been 35 years since we’ve had one here.”
It has been a busy holiday week for Herbster and his staff. In addition to Saturday’s playoff game, the school is also hosting the Summit League Volleyball Tournament at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center Thursday through Saturday.
Herbster said there’s been an added buzz in Vermillion with the postseason volleyball tournament and playoff football game. In addition to seeking some extra staff, Herbster said the ticket office has stayed busy throughout the week.
Herbster cited the Coyotes’ recent last second Hail Mary win over SDSU as a reason for fans to support their team until the game is over. He called on South Dakotans across the state to show up and support one the two playoff games in Brookings or Vermillion.
“Be present. Take the opportunity to catch one of these football games,” Herbster said. “Get out of the house and run some of that turkey off. Be there for the experience.”