How to Watch SDSU vs UC Davis FCS Football Playoffs 2021

Getty FRISCO, TEXAS - MAY 14: Pierre Strong Jr. #20 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits runs the ball against the Sam Houston State Bearkats in the second quarter during the 2021 NCAA Division I Football Championship at Toyota Stadium on May 16, 2021 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Two 8-3 teams meet in the 2021-22 FCS Playoffs when South Dakota State hosts UC Davis in Brookings on Saturday. The game marks an 11th appearance in the postseason for South Dakota State, but UC Davis won’t be intimidated, despite an unpredictable offense that often features a three-man rotation at quarterback.

No matter who takes snaps for the Aggies, keeping pace with SDSU won’t be easy. Not when the Jackrabbits can call on a superb running back tandem of Pierre Strong Jr. and the returning Isaiah Davis. They should turn this one into a blowout and set up a second-round matchup with Sacramento State.

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The game (3 p.m. ET start time) isn’t on TV anywhere, but anyone in the US can watch UC Davis vs South Dakota State and every other FCS playoff first-round game live on ESPN+:


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Once signed up for ESPN+, you can watch UC Davis vs South Dakota State live on the ESPN app on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4 or 5, Xbox One or Series X/S, any device with Android TV (such as a Sony TV or Nvidia Shield), Samsung Smart TV, Oculus Go, iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet.

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UC Davis vs South Dakota State 2021 Preview

Arguably, there isn’t a better player in the opening round than Strong. He’s rushed for 1,317 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021, even adding a trio of scoring throws to his repertoire.  Keeping Strong bottled up is just the start of the challenge for any defense facing the Jackrabbits.

There’s also the small matter of corralling Amar Johnson and Davis. The former attacks with a slashing style and can unleash true game-changing speed. It’s a different story for Davis, who can win between the tackles. Davis is also a true all-rounder, boasting soft hands and a good understanding of route concepts out of the backfield. Injuries limited Davis to just 27 carries this season, but the SDSU offense is nigh on unstoppable when he and Strong are splitting the rushing chores.

With so much talent in the backfield, it’s easy to forget there’s a genuine passing element in the Jackrabbits’ offense. It starts with quarterback Chris Oladokun, who threw 20 touchdowns during the regular season. Six of those went to tight end Tucker Kraft, a 6’5″ target who excels after the catch and ought to be a matchup nightmare for the Cal-Davis defense:

That defense will count on Bryce Rodgers dominating the interior of the line of scrimmage the way he has for most of the season. He’s a wide-based D-tackle with natural leverage who is equally adept at filling running lanes and collapsing the pocket. Finding the right one-on-one matchups for Rodgers to exploit must be central to defensive coordinator Matt Coombs’ gameplan.

One thing Coombs will be able to rely on is a steady pass rush. Rodgers tallied 4.5 sacks from his defensive tackle position, to go with the five notched by linebacker Cam Trimble. Cal-Davis has enough talent along the front seven to control the running game and put Oladokun into the obvious passing situations the Jackrabbits’ offense isn’t really designed to exploit.

No matter how the defense plays, the question will be can the UC Davis offense put enough puts on the board to win? It’s tough to predict because of the ongoing carousel at quarterback. Miles Hastings, Hunter Rodrigues and Trent Tompkins have all taken their share of snaps and each offers different characteristics.

Hastings has attempted the most passes, 197, of any member of the trio. Yet while he’s completed 122 of those attempts, Hastings has also thrown six interceptions and averaged just 5.6 yards per throw. Bigger plays are available when Rodrigues is in the lineup, evidenced by his 1,233 yards and eight touchdowns from 101 completions.

Tompkins is the X factor because he offers this offense a rushing threat and the chance to expand the playbook. It’s a chance coordinator Cody Hawkins has taken often, helping Tompkins finish second on the team in rushing yards with 464, trailing only running back Ulonzo Gilliam Jr.’s 872.

There are enough playmakers in the Cal-Davis ranks for the Aggies to spring an upset, but the muddled picture at quarterback will ultimately prove costly against a settled SDSU lineup.

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