Week 7 of the 2022 college football season is here and the action will take us to every corner of the country as we enter the second half of the regular season. This weekend, the eyes of the college football will turn to Knoxville, TN, for the annual Third Saturday in October rivalry between Alabama and Tennessee. Well, where they zig, we zag.
Every week, we’ll go full hipster and point out an under-the-radar game that you should also be paying attention to on the schedule. And for this week, we have a border rivalry in Fargodome that will double as the most anticipated game of the year in FCS.
South Dakota State at North Dakota State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
We will get perhaps the most hyped edition of the Dakota Marker rivalry this Saturday as the No. 2 South Dakota State Jackrabbits head north to face the No. 1 North Dakota State Bison.
This will be the 113th edition of this border rivalry and is the first that will be an FCS No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle. The two schools have regularly played since 1903, with NDSU owning a 63-44-5 advantage against its counterparts to the south. When both schools made the jump from Division II to FCS in 2004, the Dakota Marker Trophy was officially introduced to the rivalry. The trophy is a replica of the quartzite markers that marked the border between the two states when the Dakota Territory split in 1889. The Bison have mostly had the edge in this series since 2004, but the Jackrabbits head into this year’s matchup having won the last two.
Defending FCS national champion North Dakota State (5-1) have handled its business so far, its lone setback coming in a 31-28 loss at Arizona. The Bison dispatched of South Dakota and Indiana State to open Missouri Valley play before holding off Indiana State in a 31-26 victory last Saturday. Offensively, you’ll want to keep you eye on do-it-all fullback Hunter Luepke. He has 480 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground so far and also has 135 receiving yards with a pair of scores through the air. Defensively, you’ll want to watch sixth-year defensive end Spencer Waege. A South Dakota native, he has lived in backfields with 7.5 TFLs, four QB hurries, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble this season.
South Dakota State (5-1) has also started strong and its lone loss was that abominable 7-3 game against Iowa to open the season. You know, the game where Iowa got its seven points through two safeties and a field goal? That one. But don’t let that performance fool you as the Jackrabbits have carved through its early season slate, beating up Missouri State and Western Illinois to open Missouri Valley play before blasting South Dakota 28-3 last week. Offensively, they have a pair of Walter Payton Award candidates in quarterback Mark Gronowski and running back Isaiah Davis. Defensively, All-American Adam Bock has been all over the place with 50 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, three sacks, and a forced fumble.
The winner of this matchup will claim the top spot in the FCS rankings and will be in the driver’s seat to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship. That will position them well for the FCS playoffs this winter.
If you have ESPN+ and an extra screen, I’d advise to have this on at the same time as Alabama-Tennessee. It should be one of the more intriguing viewing windows of the college football season.