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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 19 2013

Addition of Ferris State finalizes Bison football schedule for 2013

FARGO – A revised Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff stipulation could potentially help North Dakota State this fall. Should the Bison reach the playoffs again, Wednesday’s announcement that the Bison are hosting a Division II school may not be the worst thing in the football world.

NDSU finished its schedule, adding Ferris State (Mich.) for the Sept. 7 home opener. In prior years, a Division II opponent was considered a non-counter by the FCS playoff committee.

No longer.

In a surprise move that blindsided almost everybody including NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor, the FCS Championships Committee last week approved a new ratings system to gauge the quality of a team’s schedule. It will take into account games with Football Bowl Subdivision, FCS and Division II opponents.

The expansion of the FCS playoff field from 20 to 24 teams was a reason cited for the change, Taylor said.

“There will be levels of strength of schedule,” Taylor said. “For instance, a Division II win will not count as much as an FBS win. Home wins and road wins are also counted differently.”

Taylor said the exact formula still needs to be finalized, so it has yet to be publically released.

In the past, a Division II win was the same as not playing at all in the eyes of the FCS playoff committee. Ironically, Taylor said he was going to bring up the subject at a meeting of FCS athletic directors at a meeting in Orlando, Fla.

“Then they introduce this new system,” he said. “There were 75 (athletic directors) in the room, and they were asked how many were playing a D-II and most raised their hand.”

The Ferris game will be NDSU’s first Division II opponent since a 66-7 win over Concordia-St. Paul in 2006. Ferris replaces a schedule spot vacated by Montana State, which bought out of a game last winter.

“Based on our situation this year, it couldn’t have been better timing,” Taylor said of the playoff criteria.

NDSU, however, has no other plans of scheduling a Division II school in the future, Taylor said. He said one FCS school was talking about a game for quite a while before opting not to do it.

“We’ve exhausted literally everything that is out there that I can tell,” Taylor said.

It will be the second matchup with Ferris. NDSU won a 55-35 shootout in the 1999 season opener when the Bison were still a Division II school. The Bulldogs went 7-4 last year, 6-4 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Times were also released for NDSU’s other home games. Delaware State on Sept. 21, Northern Iowa on Oct. 5, Illinois State on Nov. 9 and South Dakota on Nov. 23 will all be at 2:30 p.m. The Oct. 12 homecoming game against Missouri State will kick off at 1 p.m.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia