<
>
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Get ESPN+

FCS championship preview: Key storylines, score projection and more

play
Late miscues doom James Madison in FCS semis vs. Sam Houston (1:43)

A sack, missed field goal and a roughing the punter penalty doom James Madison in the fourth quarter as Sam Houston State advances to the FCS title game. (1:43)

The last game of a bumpy, difficult and fun-as-hell spring FCS season kicks off in Frisco, Texas, on Sunday afternoon. Top-seeded South Dakota State will meet No. 2 seed Sam Houston for the first time (2 p.m. ET on ABC and the ESPN App), and the storylines overflow. Let's lay out everything you need to know.

A bridesmaid will become a bride

John Stiegelmeier's SDSU Jackrabbits made the jump from Division II to FCS in 2004 and fit in pretty quickly. They won 6.3 games per year through their first eight seasons and only once, in their debut year, finished under .500 in the always dynamite Missouri Valley Football Conference. They took a major step forward beginning in 2012, winning nine games per year since and reaching nine consecutive FCS playoffs. They made the semifinals in 2017 and 2018, but losses to James Madison and rival North Dakota State by a combined 95-37 ended those two runs and reinforced their status as an excellent, but not quite title-worthy program.

The Jackrabbits earned the top seed in this spring's 16-team field after going 5-1 in the MVFC, and they have looked the part. They pummeled Holy Cross in the first round, then unleashed a second-half charge to survive a smoking hot Southern Illinois 31-26 in the quarterfinals. Once again in the semis for the third time in four seasons, they cleared the hurdle and then some, blowing out Delaware 33-3.