For 2018, there is hope that Bison football games will be attended well into the fourth quarter.
NDSU confirmed the 2018 football schedule Monday, and it is a big step up in non-conference opponents.
This year, the Bison outscored non-conference opponents 74-7 in the first quarter alone, which includes the 9-7 first quarter in Cheney for the Eastern Washington game. With opponents like Mississippi Valley State and Robert Morris, that number is expected.
Next year, it is unlikely for the point differential to be that high. Cal Poly, North Alabama and Delaware will visit the Fargodome, as the Bison will not travel at all during September.
In Cal Poly, NDSU gets a FCS playoff contender. Last year, it seemed the two were set to collide in Fargo. The Mustangs did not get the memo, however, and proceeded to lose to San Diego in the first round of the playoffs last year.
This year, the Mustangs have struggled. Cal Poly has started 0-5, a slightly shocking start. But some of those games were close and against good competition. The Mustangs lost in overtime against Northern Iowa 38-45.
It will be the eighth meeting between the two schools, with NDSU leading the series 4-3.
In Delaware, they face a program that ends up being a decent measuring stick to James Madison.
The Blue Hens took on the defending champions this week in their opening Colonial Athletic Association game. Delaware took an early lead, but the Dukes came back to win 20-10.
The Colonial itself is starting to become a rival to the Missouri Valley. Teams across the board have improved, and the conference has five teams in the FCS Top 25 this week.
As for North Alabama, the current Division II school will get a taste of Division I football for their trip to Fargo. The Lions are starting their transition to the FCS next year, where they will join the Big South.
Currently, the Lions are 1-3, with their one win coming against Valdosta State. It is a slow start for a team that made it to the national championship game last year.
In NDSU, the Lions will quickly see how they stack up against the top tier of the FCS.
As for the Bison, the three non-conference home games mean there will be seven games at the Fargodome next year. This will be the first time in NDSU’s FCS history that this has happened. It occurred twice back in the D-II era, in 1998 and 2000.
In addition to the three non-conference games at home, the Bison will have a fourth game in Fargo in September. That game will be the Dakota Marker against South Dakota State.
Other Missouri Valley foes coming to Fargo include Illinois State, Youngstown State and Southern Illinois.