North Dakota State will play football this fall after all, the school’s athletic director Matt Larsen and head coach Matt Entz announced together Monday. On Saturday, Oct. 3, the Bison will play Central Arkansas at home. The Bears are the defending co-champion of the Southland Conference and return a good chunk of the program’s starting lineup.
Originally, the Bison admitted they’d looked into lining up an abbreviated fall schedule, as the Missouri Valley Football Conference had announced was an option this fall. When the MVFC postponed league play, it did mention teams could opt to play non-conference games this fall. Only Missouri State had games scheduled as of this past weekend.
On Aug. 14, NDSU announced it wouldn’t pursue a fall schedule. The Bison can still play spring football, if that’s what the FCS and MVFC choose to do. That could leave open the chance to play in the FCS Playoffs and defend NDSU’s national title, if a postseason is instituted.
No word yet on if NDSU will add other games this fall.
Here is what NDSU released Monday:
FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota State director of athletics Matt Larsen and head football coach Matt Entz announced Monday, Aug. 24, the Bison football team will play one non-conference game to cap the 2020 fall practice schedule.
NDSU will host Central Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in the first meeting between the two schools. It is the beginning of a three-game contract that includes games in Fargo on Sept. 16, 2023, and Conway, Ark., on Sept. 20, 2025.
The Bears, who play in the Southland Conference, have won 35 games and made three NCAA FCS playoff appearances in the past four seasons.
Larsen said NDSU’s goal was to maximize opportunities to play games after the Missouri Valley Football Conference Presidents Council voted to move the conference schedule to the spring and allow schools, at their discretion, to play non-conference games this fall.
“Due to the challenge completing a full non-conference schedule, we took a pause to consider all our options for this fall, knowing full well it could mean not having the opportunity to play,” Larsen said. “Upon further consideration, coupled with recent information provided by the NCAA, we felt it was in the best interest of our football program to practice and play one game this fall.”
NDSU originally opened fall camp on Aug. 7 and held five practices before suspending camp on Aug. 14 with no games scheduled. Now, the Bison will resume camp on Sept. 1 and have four weeks to practice prior to the Central Arkansas game.
“With the ever-changing landscape of college football and new information coming daily from the NCAA and American Football Coaches Association, we have kept the health and well-being of our players as the top priority,” Entz said. “Our number one goal is to compete for a Missouri Valley Football Conference championship, and it is critical for our development to practice and play early this fall.”
In collaboration with the Fargodome, City of Fargo and Fargo Cass Public Health, NDSU will assist in establishing procedures to provide a safe environment for the game. There will be no tailgating, and fans will be required to wear a mask upon entering the building.
Due to anticipated seating capacity restrictions, ticket availability will be limited. NDSU season ticket holders have until 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, to indicate interest in attending the game through a survey form at GoBison.com/Request. Season ticket holders may request up to the number of tickets on their account.
Submission of the form does not guarantee tickets will be available. Email notifications regarding the status of each request will be sent Friday, Sept. 11.
Following the ticket notification process, NDSU athletic department representatives will contact each of our 3,000 season ticket account owners individually to discuss options for the fall and spring seasons. We ask for your continued patience during this process throughout the fall semester.
Tailgating pass holders and VIP parking pass holders who are granted tickets to the Oct. 3 game may park in their assigned spots. Additional details about game day procedures will be forthcoming.