The first ESPN/USA Today poll came out and like a hurricane that swept through the south, the poll left a definitive swath for NDSU: the Bison have a brutal schedule.
The good news is NDSU was ranked 22nd. The bad: four teams on its schedule are ranked ahead of it. Even worse: all four games are on the road. The Bison play at No. 18 Montana State, at No. 17 California Poly, at No. 11 Northwestern State (La.) and at No. 2 Southern Illinois.
A 1-3 record in those four would be considered a highly successful venture. NDSU’s other road game is at Southern Utah, which won’t be easy simply because it’s a long way to Cedar City.
After tonight’s game against Arkansas-Monticello, it will be 10 straight weeks of true I-AA competition. That’s a far cry from last year when the Bison had more breathing room with Valparaiso, Montana Tech and Carson-Newman.