North Dakota State is dipping into its past to fill out its future football schedules. The school announced Tuesday the addition of three home non-conference games to the 2018-2020 schedules. North Alabama, UC Davis and Drake will becoming over the next three seasons, two of those schools making their debuts inside the Fargodome.
North Alabama will come to the Dome on September 22, 2018. The Lions made the announcement that they were moving up to Division 1, I’ll credit one of my Twitter followers or someone on this blog that said to me that NDSU should reach out to them to schedule a game. Five months later and it’s a done deal. UNA will begin its transition to D-1 in 2018, so it will be a counter game for the Bison. In 2019 the Lions will join the Big South and in 2022, they’ll be eligible for the FCS Playoffs. UNA won three straight national titles from 1993-95, the only school to do that in Division 2. UNA and NDSU met for the 1985 title in McAllen, Texas, a 35-7 Bison win, the second of a three title run in four seasons. UNA will be paid 230K for the game.
UC Davis will return to the Dome on September 21, 2019. The Aggies are now led by former Boise State and Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins, hoping to return the program to its better days. UC Davis was a former member of the Great West, NDSU played a memorable game out there in 2006, where the Bison rallied from a 24-0 halftime deficit to win the game. The Aggies have won 2, 2 and 3 games over the past three seasons a far cry from the D-2 team that came to Fargo in back to back years, led by future Jets quarterback Ken O’Brien. UC Davis will receive 240K for the game.
Lastly, Drake will make its first trip on September 12, 2020. The Bulldogs play in the non-scholarship Pioneer League and NDSU was the last of the Dakota schools they haven’t played. Drake has played UND, opens with USD this year and gets SDSU to come to Des Moines in 2019. NDSU will pay Drake 230K for the game.
This leaves NDSU with one open date for 2018, either September 8th or the 15th. The Bison open that year with Delaware at home. As documented before the options for FBS games are dwindling, you can read those options here. 2019 is now done, that as many know is a 12 game season. There isn’t an FBS game on the schedule, the caveat being NDSU opens the season at Target Field with Butler. 2020 has two games on the schedule now, NDSU opening at Oregon and then hosting Butler, with another FCS home game to come.
Lastly, there was an interesting announcement made by ESPN yesterday as the network moved the Richmond-Sam Houston State game from Thursday, August 31st to Sunday, August 27th. The game will be nationally televised on ESPNU, and will be the only college football game that day. That’s ironic after my post last week about the ending of the FCS Kickoff, that this game now is a quasi-kickoff game. This is also an interesting look at Sam Houston, which last year was ranked number one for a majority of the year and then was crushed at James Madison. These two teams have made the quarterfinals each of the last two years, joining NDSU as the only schools to have that distinction. Should make for a good matchup, joining the Jax State-Chattanooga game the night before.