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With Bison AD Larsen in Indy, playoff scenarios on the line with NDSU and UND

North Dakota State athletic director on the FCS selection committee for a second year

North Dakota State's Christian Watson leaps to snare a pass reception for a first down against Montana State during the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome is expected to be packed to the rafters on Saturday afternoon. The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State kick off at 2:30 p.m. with plenty on the line for both teams.

Decibel levels could be at peak volume. Meanwhile, Matt Larsen will be in a quiet room in Indianapolis.

The NDSU athletic director is a member of the Division I FCS playoff selection committee that will be spending the day monitoring the teams in contention for one of 24 spots in the field.

The committee has been doing conference calls three times a week starting in mid-October. Larsen will fly to Indianapolis on Friday with the first meeting at NCAA headquarters later Friday afternoon. Saturday will be spent watching and evaluating.

PHOTO: Matt Larsen NDSU
North Dakota State AD Matt Larsen shown in a Forum file photo.
Forum file photo

“There’s still a lot of implications on some games this weekend,” Larsen said. “We’ll start to take a look at who we think should be in the bracket and we need Saturday to play out a little bit.”
Larsen represents the central region consisting of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, Pioneer League and Ohio Valley Conference.
“There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into looking at a lot of information and scores, watching a lot of games over the course of the last three months,” he said.


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It’s Larsen’s second year on the committee, which consists of 11 athletic directors. For instance, the Big Sky Conference is represented by University of Montana athletic director Kent Haslam and the Colonial Athletic Association is represented by Stony Brook A.D. Shawn Heilbron.

A committee member must leave the room whenever his or her school is being discussed.

“You see how many games you watch, how much debate there is, how much information you have,” Larsen said.

Four schools have already clinched an automatic berth to the field: South Dakota State in the Missouri Valley, Samford in the Southern Conference, Holy Cross in the Patriot and Saint Francis in the Northeastern Conference.

The following teams are considered to have generally clinched at least an at-large spot based on season record and resume: NDSU (8-2), Sacramento State (10-0), Montana State (9-1), Weber State (8-2), Incarnate Word (9-1), William & Mary (9-1), Richmond (8-2), Elon (8-3) and Southeast Missouri State (8-2).

A host of teams with seven Division I wins could cement themselves with a win on Saturday.

If NDSU beats UND, the Fighting Hawks would want a Missouri State win over 6-4 Youngstown State since UND beat Youngstown during the season and they would finish with the same record. It’s likely the committee would take at least three Missouri Valley teams.

The top eight teams are seeded and receive a first-round bye.


“We spend a lot of time on the top eight for obvious reasons,” Larsen said. “And then the last 10, the last five that get in and the last five that are left out. Those are really important decisions too because one team gets to play and the other team is left at home. After the top eight it comes down to regionalization. So those top eight and those last couple are really, really important.”

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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