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South Dakota State vs. Eastern Illinois 2012: Panthers start FCS playoffs

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The Eastern Illinois Panthers start their quest for a National Championship.

John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 FCS playoffs get underway this week as the Eastern Illinois Panthers (7-4) travel to South Dakota State (8-3) to face the Jackrabbits in a first round game. The Panthers are making their fifth FCS tournament appearance in the last eight seasons, but in each of the last four appearances they have lost their opening game. Three of those losses came at the hands of Southern Illinois, while the fourth loss was against Illinois State.

Overall, eastern Illinois has lost its opening round game during each of its last nine playoff appearances. Their last opening round win was a 38-21 win over Idaho in 1989.

EIU earned its way in via automatic bid from winning the Ohio Valley Conference this season. South Dakota State was an at large selection from the Missouri Valley Conference with losses to FBS foe Kansas as well as Northern Iowa and a 20-17 loss at defending FCS champion North Dakota State.

Game time, TV channel: 3 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Online streaming video: WatchESPN