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NDSU completes 2018 football schedule with the addition of Cal Poly

Kyle Steffes of North Dakota State University runs during a 2006 game against Cal Poly -- the last time the Mustangs visited Fargo. The Bison will play the Mustangs in 2018 at the Fargodome, completing their schedule for next season. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

FARGO—North Dakota State turned to an old Great West Football Conference fellow member to complete its 2018 football schedule. California Poly will open the season with a Sept. 1, 2018, date at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

It will also be the first time in NDSU's Division I existence that it will have seven regular-season home games. The Bison also have nonconference games against North Alabama and Delaware and will not hit the road until an Oct. 6, 2018, conference game at Northern Iowa.

The Bison had seven regular-season home games two other times in 1998 and 2000 when it was a Division II school.

In Cal Poly, the Bison will host a program that went through the Division I transition at about the same time as NDSU. The two schools formed the Great West along with South Dakota State, UC Davis, Southern Utah and Northern Colorado.

It's a one-year contract that will pay the Mustangs a $250,000 guarantee. Moreover, it officially ended NDSU's hopes of finding an FBS opponent. NDSU paid Robert Morris a $185,000 guarantee last weekend.

"Some of it is timing," said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen. "I think the thing that hurts us is now the pool of FCS teams willing to come out here is starting to shrink."

The Mustangs are current members of the Big Sky Conference. The teams were on a collision course last year to meet in the second round of the FCS playoffs before the University of San Diego upset the Mustangs in the first round.

Cal Poly and NDSU split their four Great West games with the Mustangs winning in 2004 and 2005 and the Bison taking the 2006 and 2007 games, the last 31-28 win on an 80-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining.

NDSU's next FBS opponent isn't until 2020 when it will travel to the University of Oregon. On the other hand, head coach Chris Klieman said his biggest fear for next year was to be stuck with a Division II opponent, or a game that would be considered a non-Division I counter.

"That would be the first goal, to play an FBS game," Klieman said. "That couldn't happen ... so the next-best thing is to find a way to get another home game. I'm excited for our fans, to have seven home games. I'm excited for our seniors, to have a seventh home game."

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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