The South Dakota State Jackrabbits have become what the Montana Grizzlies used to be in FCS college football.

Will the Griz have a say about that in the national championship game on Sunday?

SDSU is seeking back-to-back FCS titles, having reached the final for the third time in the last four seasons. In fact, the Jackrabbits have reached at least the semifinal round in six of the last seven postseasons.

That used to be Montana, a two-time FCS champion, which is appearing in the title game for the eighth time, tying for the second-most in history. But it’s the Griz’s first title shot since 2009 after the first seven occurred in a 15-season span from 1995 to 2009.

(Here’s the championship game history of Montana and South Dakota State)

The nation’s top two teams will meet at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, in a much-anticipated showdown. Here’s a capsule preview of the 46th FCS championship game:

No. 1 Seed South Dakota State (14-0) vs. No. 2 Seed Montana (13-1)

Kickoff – 2 p.m. ET Sunday at Toyota Stadium (17,677) in Frisco, Texas (ABC)

Series – Montana leads 8-0 (last meeting: Montana won 24-17 at home in a 2015 first-round playoff game)

Coaches – Montana: Bobby Hauck (129-35, 13th season; 144-84 overall); South Dakota State: Jimmy Rogers (14-0, first season)

5 Players to Watch – Montana: QB Clifton McDowell (138 of 235, 1,861 yards, 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 751 rush yards, 9 TDs), WR/Return Junior Bergen (55 receptions, 766 yards, 5 TDs; 798 kickoff/punt return yards, 4 TDs), RT Brandon Casey (All-Big Sky first team), NT Alex Gubner (39 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 3 sacks), LB Braxton Hill (116 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 7 QB hurries, 3 takeaways); South Dakota State: QB Mark Gronowski (196 of 286, 2,883 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs; 349 rush yards, 7 TDs), RB Isaiah Davis (220 carries, 1,491 yards, 17 TDs; 22 receptions, 1 TD), LT Garret Greenfield (three-time Stats Perform FCS All-America first team), LB Jason Freeman (96 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries), FS/PR Tucker Large (43 tackles, 4 INTs, 7 pass breakups; 18.9-yard punt return average, 1 TD)

Notable – Montana: The Grizzlies won FCS national titles in 1995 under coach Don Read and in 2001 under Joe Glenn, while Hauck seeks to win his first in his fourth championship game appearance. The dual-threat McDowell spreads around the offensive touches, including to Eli Gillman (950 rushing yards, 12 total TDs), the 2023 Jerry Rice Award recipient as the national freshman of the year. The Grizzlies rank fifth among 128 FCS teams in scoring defense (16.8-point average), 12th in rushing defense (102.9-yard average) and third in preventing third down conversions (28.6 percent). Bergen, the team’s playoff standout, has four combined touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns this season, but the Grizzlies have have allowed four kicks blocked as well. South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits enter on a 28-game winning streak (third-longest in FCS history) as they seek back-to-back FCS titles – last year under John Stiegelmeier and this season under Rogers, the Eddie Robinson Award winner. The offense boasts a number of NFL prospects, including Davis (24 career games with 100+ rushing yards) and O-linemen Greenfield and Mason McCormick. Gronowski, a junior, joins that trio as a first-team All-American, leading the FCS in passing efficiency (182.7). Dating back to last season, the Jackrabbits have scored on 98 of their last 100 trips inside an opponent’s red zone. The linebacker-led defense has posted shutouts in two of the Jackrabbits’ three playoff games – their 9.7-point overall average allowed bettered only by the 2018 Colgate squad (9.3) since 2010.

2 Key Factors – Montana: The Grizzlies, who utilize a 3-3-5 base defensive alignment, must handle an SDSU offensive line that is considered the best in the FCS to prevent sustained drives by the Jackrabbits. Gubner, the Big Sky defensive player of the year, is excellent at bringing pressure up the middle. The No. 2 seed also must answer SDSU scores and stay within at least one score to have a chance in the fourth quarter for an upset; South Dakota State: With Montana deep in defensive backs, the Jackrabbits must use the run to set up the pass. Davis has been over 100 rushing yards in all seven postseason games the last two seasons, and that’s something they’ve come to rely on at this time of the season. Hunter Dustman set the championship record for punting average last January, but he needs hang time and direction away from the red-hot Bergen (three TD returns in UM’s last two games).

Up Next – The winner will claim the No. 1 final ranking in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll. The 2024 season opener for each team is on Aug. 31: SDSU will play at Oklahoma State and Montana will host Missouri State.

Prediction – South Dakota State 27, Montana 20 (Season Predictions Record: 132-57, .689)