Over the course of a season, it's important to win games, but it's equally important to beat your rival. Especially when you get to do that twice in one season, let alone in the playoffs.
That's just what No. 1-seeded North Dakota State accomplished Saturday in the FCS playoff second round, toppling rival South Dakota State, 28-3, in the 100th all-time meeting between the two schools.
It was also the second time in 22 days the Bison defeated their rival from the south behind yet another stifling defensive effort. South Dakota State managed just 217 total yards - 196 passing and 21 rushing - while the FCS' leading rusher, running back Zach Zenner, totaled 46 yards on 15 carries.
North Dakota State (11-1), the defending FCS national champion, will host Wofford (9-3) in the national quarterfinals next weekend.
South Dakota State (9-4) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after one quarter thanks to a Justin Syrovatka 26-yard field goal, but the Jackrabbits didn't score again.
NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen completed 15-of-25 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another one.
Jensen found Garrett Bruhn from 12 yards out at the start of the second quarter, giving his team a 7-3 lead. After a Ryan Smith 32-yard rushing touchdown made it 14-3, Jensen scored his lone touchdown on the ground - a 2-yard rush with 3:04 left in the second quarter - giving the Bison a 21-3 halftime advantage.
Bruhn caught his second touchdown catch of the game late in the fourth quarter, sealing the victory. He finished the contest with two catches for 21 yards and two touchdowns.
In the series' 99th meeting on Nov. 10 - a 20-17 NDSU win - South Dakota State totaled just 209 yards of offense and Zenner rushed for a season-low 43 yards.
The Jackrabbits didn't find much success through the air, either, Saturday as quarterback Austin Sumner threw for 196 yards and one interception in the loss.
The Bison rumbled for 218 rushing yards, as John Crockett totaled 90 rushing yards on 11 carries (8.2 yards per carry) and Sam Ojuri rushed for 65 yards on 19 carries.
Coach Craig Bohl's squad held onto the ball for 37 minutes, 54 seconds, and limited the 'Jacks to 2-of-13 on third down attempts and 0-of-3 on fourth down.
The Bison have won five straight home playoff games dating back to the program's first FCS playoff appearance in 2010.