Meet the opponent: SDSU set to host UC Davis in FCS Playoffs

KELOLAND.com Original

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — For the sixth straight season, SDSU will host an FCS playoff game as they are set to meet UC Davis on Saturday, Nov. 27.

UC DAVIS

UC Davis Aggies

The University of California Davis (UC Davis) is in Davis, California. There are ten universities that are part of the University of California system and UC Davis is one of those schools.

“Good football team, with no weaknesses. I think their skill guys especially on defense are really good, they’re really fast,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “Again, they’re one of those teams that on defense doesn’t do as much as some people, but they’re really good at what they do.”

THE SCHEDULE

SDSU and UC Davis both enter Saturday’s contest with an 8-3 record. They each started 4-0 this season as well, but SDSU would suffer a loss to Southern Illinois to fall to 4-1, while UC Davis picked up a win over Idaho to start 5-0.

SDSU would go 1-1 in their next two games to move to 5-2. The Aggies would fall to Idaho State, 27-17 to fall to 5-1, but then they’d rattle off three straight wins to improve to 8-1 on the season.

The Jackrabbits would win three of their last four contests to finish the season with an 8-3 record. Their lone loss came on the Hail Mary touchdown by USD.

On the other side, UC Davis would fall in their last two games of the season to Eastern Washington and Sacramento State, both of which are also in the postseason.

In their 11 game season, the Aggies only played two playoff opponents and they were 0-2 against those teams.

The Jackrabbits played an impressive four playoff teams this season, though they were just 1-3 with their lone win coming against second seeded NDSU. They suffered losses to UNI, Southern Illinois and USD.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

StatSDSUUC Davis
Scoring Offense37.3 PPG (9th in FCS)28.7 PPG (46th in FCS)
Total Offense441.3 YPG (14th in FCS)407.5 YPG (32nd in FCS)
Rushing Offense194.9 YPG (19th in FCS)175 YPG (30th in FCS)
Passing Offense246.4 YPG (30th in FCS)232.5 (40th in FCS)
Scoring Defense18.27 PPG (17th in FCS)19.73 PPG (22nd in FCS)
Total Defense326.7 YPG (22nd in FCS)418.5 YPG
Rushing Defense97.8 YPG (11th in FCS)162.9 YPG
Passing Defense228.9 YPG255.64 YPG
YPG = Yards per Game PPG = Points per Game

When looking at the team stats there are a few things that stand out.

The first thing that stands out has to be SDSU’s offense. The Jackrabbits play a very tough schedule in a conference that had six playoff qualifiers, yet they own a top ten scoring offense in the FCS. Their yards per game are a little than their points per game, which could indicate they are finishing drives with points.

They are the 12th best in FCS for red zone offense as they are scoring on nearly 90% of their trips inside the twenty. Even more important, the Jackrabbits are finishing with touchdowns. They’ve scored 44 times in the red zone this season and 34 of those have been touchdowns, that’s 77% of their red zone scores resulting in six.

To counter that, UC Davis is not in the top fifty in the nation for total defense, yet they’re 22nd in points per game defensively. That would indicate the Aggies bend on defense and give up some yards, but they find a way to hold teams out of the end zone.

UC Davis is 25th best in red zone defense in the FCS, tied with two other playoff teams in USD and top-seeded Sam Houston at 75%.

SDSU is a step better than the Aggies defensively inside the twenty. The Jackrabbits are allowing teams to score just 71% of the time, which is 14th best in the nation.

That defense will be a challenge for UC Davis who is 50th in the FCS in red zone offense. They’re scoring 82% of the times inside the twenty. The Aggie have also struggled to find the end zone when they get inside the twenty. They’ve scored just 25 red zone touchdowns, nine less than SDSU. Only 60.9% of their trips inside the red zone resulted in six points.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

SDSU has a few players to keep an eye out for such as standout running back Pierre Strong Jr. He is second in the FCS for rushing yards at 1,317 yards.

Pierre Strong Jr.

Senior quarterback Chris Oladokun is a name to watch for the Jacks. He has been a leader on offense as he has posted 2,450 passing yards (28th in FCS), 20 passing touchdowns (22nd in FCS) and just five interceptions this season.

The Janke twins are certainly two players to watch on offense as Jadon and Jaxon have combined for 85 receptions, 1,370 yards and ten touchdowns. Jaxon has 876 of those yards (19th in FCS), but Jadon leads in touchdowns at seven (37th in FCS).

Jadon and Jaxon Janke

Then the two talented tight ends for SDSU in Tucker Kraft and Zach Heins. Those two have combined for 69 catches for 795 yards and 12 touchdowns.

On defense, SDSU is led by linebacker Adam Bock who has a team high 100 tackles (32nd in FCS). Caleb Sanders has a team high 6.5 sacks.

A few players to watch for from UC Davis are Olonzo Gilliam, Miles Hastings and

Gilliam has been a solid running back for the Aggies this season. He’s rushed for 828 yards, which is 37th best in the FCS.

Redshirt freshman quarterback, Miles Hastings has been the starting quarterback for UC Davis in the last four games. His best game had to be against Northern Arizona where he was 24-36 for 279 yards and two touchdowns. On the year, Hastings has thrown for 1,101 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions this season.

Junior Hunter Rodrigues took the majority of snaps in six of the first seven games, but has only completed three passes since. He is the team’s passing leader at 1,233 yards this season.

The receiving game for UC Davis has been led by senior wide receiver, Jared Harrell who has 44 catches for 551 yards and five touchdowns, all of which lead the team.

McCallan Castles is a sophomore tight end who has 25 catches for 363 yards this season and four scores.

On defense, UC Davis has been led by redshirt freshman linebacker, Teddye Buchanan, who leads the team in total tackles with 67 tackles.

Junior linebacker Cam Trimble leads the team in two categories with 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

THE GAME

SDSU and UC Davis will cross paths in Brookings on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN Plus.

You can follow along with the contest by following the KELOLAND.com Live Blog, which starts at 1:55 p.m. on KELOLAND.com.

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