Bison will take No. 1 seed into FCS playoffs, host winner of UND at Nicholls

By Jeff Kolpack

Forum News Service

FARGO — As the only remaining unbeaten team in Division I FCS football – and it’s been that way for a while – there was no suspense for North Dakota State when the playoff bracket was announced on Sunday morning. The Bison were instilled as the No. 1 seed.

It was the result of a 12-0 regular season that was capped off on Saturday with a 21-7 win over Southern Illinois. NDSU will receive a first-round bye and play the winner of the University of North Dakota at Nicholls State (La.), set for 3 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

The Bison will be at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome as long as they keep winning. It’s the 10th straight year NDSU has reached the postseason bracket, which was announced on ESPNU. The Bison have won seven of the last eight national titles and have a 24-1 postseason record at the dome. All first and second round games will be streamed on ESPN3.

The 12-person playoff committee was tasked with the following criteria: overall record, strength of schedule, record vs. Division I opponents, records vs. opponents from other automatic qualifying conferences, record vs. FBS opponents, head-to-head record, common opponents’ record, FCS top 25 coaches poll, NCAA Simple Rating System date and input from regional advisory committees.

NDSU was given the top seed followed by James Madison, Weber State and Sacramento State. It’s the first playoff berth for Sac State.

Montana State is the fifth seed followed by Montana, South Dakota State and Central Arkansas. Central Arkansas, Montana State and Sacramento State are in NDSU’s bracket. Of Missouri Valley Football Conference note, SDSU will host the winner of San Diego at Northern Iowa while Central Arkansas will host the winner of Southeast Missouri State vs. Illinois State.

Southern Illinois, which had hopes of getting into the field with an FBS win over Massachusetts, a late-season five-game winning streak and a tough 21-7 loss to NDSU on Saturday, was left out with a 7-5 record.

“In the end, they were 0-4 against teams in the field,” said committee chair Greg Seitz on the ESPNU announcement show. “Unfortunately their body of work was not enough to get them in the field.”

Seitz, the athletic director at Jacksonville State, said UND’s win over Montana State was a major factor in the Fighting Hawks getting into the field. The Hawks were one of the last four teams in the field, but Seitz indicated they had the best quality win of any of the four.

There was a time when NDSU players and coaches gathered on Sunday morning for the show. No longer. Head coach Matt Entz indicated after the SIU win on Saturday it was going to be business as usual.

“We’re going to have doughnuts, guys will be there to hear the selection show and then once the show is over my expectations are they’re all in the training room getting ready and trying to get healthy,” Entz said. “We’ll look at some self-scout, look back and re-analyze what we’ve been doing, maybe where our flaws are, so we can continue to get better.”

Nothing changed with NDSU’s ticket office procedures. Tickets will go on sale at 5 p.m. Sunday online only at www.gobison.com/tickets and season ticket holders have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3 to purchase their same seats. Unclaimed season tickets go on sale to the public at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Reserved tailgating spots go on sale at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25 to current tailgate pass holders. Purchases can be made in person at the Bison ticket office or by calling 701-231-6172 or 701-231-5990. No online sales are available.