BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The SDSU football team will appear in their second ever National Championship on Sunday and they’ll do so against their biggest rival, NDSU. The two programs have built a strong rivalry, which began in the early 2000’s.

In 2004, the Jackrabbits and Bison met at the South Dakota-North Dakota border as the two teams moved to Division I.

“It’s kind of unique to think, we literally needed each other at that time and to envision what happened, I don’t know if anyone could really envision it,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “It’s a cool scenario right now, with this championship.”

NDSU found early success against the Jacks. The Bison won six of their first ten meetings from 2004 through 2013. Coach Matt Entz joined the NDSU staff in 2014 and since then, SDSU is 5-4 against the Bison in the regular season.

“In my experience, I don’t know if I remember it not being close games, just doing a real quick mental inventory every time we’ve played South Dakota State,” NDSU head coach Matt Entz said. “They’ve consistently been one of the top teams in our league.”

Like other rivalries, the Dakota Marker Rivalry has gone beyond the field.

“Because of the vicinity, because of the conference, because of the relationships, I think we push each other. I would like to think we push each other,” Stieglemeier said.

The Bison are a perfect 3-0 against the Jacks in the playoffs, but this year’s bout will be unique, as it’s the first time the two schools have met in the National Championship.

“There are probably some people out there that are shocked it hasn’t happened before. When you look at two programs that have been very equally competitive to one another, since I’ve been here in 2014,” Entz said. “It’s probably a shock.”

Since moving to Division I in 2004, the Bison have appeared in nine National Championships and they have yet to lose. SDSU, on the other hand, has only played in one title game.

“We know that they’re going to be an experienced team and they’ve done it before. They know the formula to win a championship down there,” SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski said. “We got a taste two years ago playing in this game.”

The Jacks and Bison will meet for the championship on Sunday, January 8 at 1 p.m. You can follow the action with our live blog on KELOLAND.com.