The anticipation continues to grow as North Dakota State gets closer to kicking off the 2020 season.

The Bison home schedule will begin on September 12th when NDSU hosts Drake University out of the Pioneer League. This will mark the second straight year Drake will play in North Dakota, they opened the season last year in Grand Forks losing 47-7 to UND.

NDSU fans know the Pioneer League well, the Bison matched up with league power San Diego twice in the playoffs in 2016 and 2017. Last season NDSU played Butler at Target Field and next year they will host Valparaiso at the Dome. The unique part of this matchup is this is the first time Drake has played in Fargo. The two schools have met twice before, playing in Des Moines in 1955 and 1962.

Todd Stepsis is in his second year as head coach at Drake after serving as defensive coordinator for five years before that. He returns a sophomore at quarterback in Ian Corwin, who threw for 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. Corwin was one of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, which eventually went to Bison quarterback Trey Lance as the top freshman in FCS.

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The program has by most accounts been a winning one. Drake has had a winning record 14 of the last 15 seasons, most notably was its 2018 game at Iowa State. A rescheduled game that the Cyclones lost because of weather to SDSU, Drake came in to Ames and nearly knocked off ISU, falling 27-24.

NDSU scheduled this game in May of 2017 and will pay Drake $230,000 to the Bulldogs for the one-time guarantee. This is a game where the Bison will be heavily favored and will continue a streak of opening the home schedule against Pioneer League opponents. Drake will be a familiar face in the Dakotas for the next few years. The Bulldogs will play at UND in 2021 and 2023 and at South Dakota State in 2023 and 2025.

Drake Bulldogs

  • 2019 record: 6-5
  • Head Coach: Todd Stepsis (Second season)
  • Ian Corwin: 20 TD, 14 INT, Jerry Rice finalist in 2019
  • Third meeting between schools (Drake won previous two)

Under defensive pressure, UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham searches for an open receiver during a game against Drake earlier this season. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Under defensive pressure, UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham searches for an open receiver during a game against Drake earlier this season. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks HeraldNick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald