FCS First Round Preview – South Dakota at Nicholls State

The Nicholls State Colonels are back in the postseason for the first time since 2005. Fans of the program had to be a little concerned about the school’s playoff hopes after a season-ending loss to Southeastern Louisiana, but the FCS Playoff Committee awarded the Colonels with a berth and a home game to boot.

They will be hosting the South Dakota Coyotes, who started the season strong and went all the way up to No. 3 in the polls after a 6-0 start. It looked like quarterback Chris Streveler was on his way to winning the Walter Payton Award with ease, but then the wheels fell off. The Coyotes dropped four of their last five and were holding their breath on Selection Sunday.

FCS First Round Betting Odds

South Dakota -20.5
Nicholls State +20.5
Total 58.5

Keep an Eye On…

South Dakota’s offense is built around Streveler. The Minnesota transfer has been phenomenal all season and has made this team a contender all by himself. The Coyotes had never posted a winning record in the Missouri Valley since joining the conference in 2012, but he has made them a force.

Streveler didn’t commit a turnover until the seventh game of the season and unsurprisingly, that’s when South Dakota started losing games. He threw five interceptions in his final five games, and the offense wasn’t able to keep up its blistering pace as a result.

But his numbers are incredible, especially when you consider that he is playing in the toughest conference in the FCS. Streveler has completed almost two-thirds of his passes and is averaging almost 300 yards per game despite being knocked out against Southern Illinois on the first drive.

Additionally, he has been almost impossible to stop on the ground. Only Northern Iowa and Illinois State were able to keep him from finding success with his legs as he has picked up 635 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. And he has yet to lose a fumble, which is very impressive with how often he runs.

Nicholls State has not seen anything like Streveler all year. There are no real dual-threat quarterbacks in the Southland Conference and he is going to give the Colonels a world of trouble.

Injury to Watch

Kyran Irvin has been Nicholls State’s best back all year long. He has averaged 5.3 yards per carry and exploded for 160 yards in the first half against Stephen F. Austin two weeks ago.

However, Irvin left that game due to an injury and did not return. He also did not suit up in the Colonels’ loss to Southeastern Louisiana last week.

It is unclear whether or not he will be able to go and Colonels head coach Tim Rebowe did not elaborate on his status. There is no indication as to what the injury was from what I have read, so keep that in the back of your mind before taking a side in this game.

Prediction

Neither one of these teams has much of a history in the postseason. This will be South Dakota’s first-ever trip and Nicholls State is averaging a berth every decade or so. That means there might be some playoff yips from both sides as every mistake becomes magnified.

South Dakota’s defense has not been that good this season. The Coyotes gave up at least 27 points seven times in 11 games and only looked good against inept offenses. The secondary was particularly beatable through the air and allowed quarterbacks to throw for almost eight yards per attempt.

I think the Coyotes are going to win this game, but the spread is way too high. Streveler is great and should put up points on a Colonels defense that has seen nothing like him, but South Dakota’s defense isn’t that good and will be susceptible to a balanced attack from Nicholls State. Chase Fourcade has been somewhat of a mixed bag at quarterback and killed the Colonels with three interceptions against Southeastern Louisiana, but he will move the ball on this defense.

Pick: Nicholls State +20.5

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