ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

NDSU finally finding FBS games again thanks to Pac-12 Conference

FARGO-After an FBS scheduling drought that lasted a few years, North Dakota State is slowly getting back into the mix thanks to the Pac-12 Conference. The athletic department on Monday, April 10, announced a one-year agreement with the University...

North Dakota State has a signed a contract to play a football game at the University of Arizona in 2022. Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
North Dakota State has a signed a contract to play a football game at the University of Arizona in 2022. Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

FARGO-After an FBS scheduling drought that lasted a few years, North Dakota State is slowly getting back into the mix thanks to the Pac-12 Conference. The athletic department on Monday, April 10, announced a one-year agreement with the University of Arizona.

The Sept. 17, 2022, game at Arizona Stadium in Tucson is one of three with Pac-12 teams in a five-year period. The Bison are playing at the University of Oregon in 2020 and at Colorado in 2024.

NDSU will get a $425,000 guarantee from Arizona with the Wildcats on the hook for a $1 million buyout. It's also further evidence any games with FBS schools in the Midwest region like the Big Ten Conference are long gone.

The Big Ten issued a mandate last year to phase out scheduling FCS programs.

"The downside to no Big Ten is it's out of our region," said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. "Anywhere we look now is outside of our region except for you could argue about some Mountain West (Conference) schools. We'll continue to look at games within close driving distances but judging from the reaction from Oregon, our fans are excited about FBS games and they'll go wherever they are."

ADVERTISEMENT

The upside to Arizona is a strong alumni base, particularly in Phoenix a couple hours to the northwest.

"Since I've been here we've been looking to get a game with one of the Arizona schools for obvious reasons," Larsen said. "The fan base. The alumni base. There are so many people that go down there and it's easy to get to."

The Wildcats have been to bowl games in seven of the last nine years. It will be their first game against a Missouri Valley Football Conference opponent.

NDSU is still looking for an FBS matchup for 2018, but those opportunities appear to be dwindling.

"There are still some lifelines out there and we're trying to work those angles," Larsen said. "If nothing comes through, we have a couple of creative ideas from an FCS perspective that would resonate with the fans."

Brinkman, Nyangacha leave team

NDSU head coach Chris Klieman said Monday that linebacker Jake Brinkman and defensive back Moses Nyangacha have left the team. He said there was no further information available.

Brinkman, a sophomore, saw some action mainly on special teams last season after redshirting in 2015. He played in six games and registered 10 tackles. He was a two-time first team all-state linebacker for Regina High School in North Liberty, Iowa.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nyangacha redshirted last season as a freshman. He was a Minnesota second team all-state selection at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in the Twin Cities.

Neither player was on the two-deep depth chart.

Scrimmage focus on depth

The Bison held their first intrasquad scrimmage of spring football on Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. It was closed to the media and public, but Klieman said it was mostly for the younger players on the team.

A couple of younger players who made some impressions of late: Offensive linemen Dillon Radunz and Cordell Volson, fullback Brock Robbins and safety James Hendricks. The emergence of the freshman Radunz at left tackle has allowed the Bison to shift tackle Colin Conner to guard at times in practice.

Klieman said senior safety Darren Kelley is having his role focused to more of the five-defensive back package that the Bison use in passing situations. Last year's "nickel" defensive back, sophomore Dom Davis, is getting more repetitions specifically at cornerback opposite Jalen Allison.

Hendricks' position shift from quarterback is off to a good start. He's in the backup mix at strong safety behind starter Robbie Grimsley and his emergence has allowed the Bison to move sophomore Jaxon Brown from strong safety to free safety along with Eric Bachmeier.

"We feel like we have more depth there," Klieman said.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLCHRIS KLIEMAN
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.
What To Read Next
Area recreation scores and schedules.
Regional and local scores and schedules.
Olivia Dronen had five points, including her 100th varsity point, and nine other Moorhead players found the scoresheet as the Spuds advanced to Saturday's section semifinals.
WDAY Sports+ is live this Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., with our Game of the Week between the Red River Roughriders and the Davies Eagles.