Dakotas are all in for semifinals

The FCS (Division I-AA) playoffs are down to the final four, and two of the remaining schools lie across Minnesota’s western border. The semifinal winners will advance to the championship game Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.

Friday’s game

No. 6 Sam Houston State (12-1) at No. 2 North Dakota State (12-1), 7 p.m. (ESPN2): The Bison are appearing in the semifinals for the seventh straight season. Last year they lost to eventual champion James Madison, ending their streak of five consecutive national titles. NDSU is 4-1 all-time vs. Sam Houston. The Bison beat Sam Houston in the 2011 and 2012 championship games (17-6 and 39-13) and in a 2014 semifinal (35-3). NDSU won its first two playoff games by a combined score of 80-13.

Saturday’s game

No. 5 South Dakota State (11-2) at No. 1 James Madison (13-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU): South Dakota State is in the national semis for the first time. The Jackrabbits have won a school-record 11 games and have not lost since Oct. 14. This will be their first meeting with James Madison. SDSU receiver Jake Wieneke (Maple Grove High School) holds the Missouri Valley Football Conference receiving records for catches (281), yards (5,042) and touchdowns (58). The Dukes have won 25 consecutive games.