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UND receiving help in quest for bye

The UND football team ended the regular season on a bye week on Saturday. Although the Fighting Hawks were idle, UND had a lot at stake in a few games around the FCS. The Fighting Hawks are on the bubble of receiving a first-round bye as a Top-8 ...

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The UND football team ended the regular season on a bye week on Saturday.

Although the Fighting Hawks were idle, UND had a lot at stake in a few games around the FCS.

The Fighting Hawks are on the bubble of receiving a first-round bye as a Top-8 seed in the 24-team FCS playoff field.

With the help of a few results on Saturday, UND and its fans should be much more confident during the Selection Show at 10 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

UND (9-2 overall, 8-0 Big Sky Conference) was ranked No. 9 in the last FCS playoff committee rankings.

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But the two teams directly above the Fighting Hawks lost on Saturday. The biggest upset was William & Mary's 34-13 win over Richmond. The Spiders were ranked No. 8 in the committee's last rankings.

Sam Houston State, last ranked No. 5 by the committee, beat the No. 7 team in Central Arkansas 59-23.

The losses for No. 8 Richmond and No. 7 Central Arkansas should catapult No. 9 UND to a Top 8 seed, regardless of whether the committee allows South Dakota State to jump above the Fighting Hawks in the final bracket.

SDSU, which beat North Dakota State earlier this season, was ranked No. 10 by the committee. Some, however, speculated a win at Northern Iowa could be enough to consider the Jacks to move ahead of the Fighting Hawks when the final bracket was released. SDSU ended up winning 45-24 over the Panthers.

UND is one of only two Big Sky teams considered with Eastern Washington as locks for the FCS playoffs.

Montana lost to Montana State in Missoula in the Brawl of the Wild (24-17) as the Griz's minimal playoff chances were dashed by the rival Bobcats.

Weber State's playoff hopes were kept alive with a 34-28 win over Idaho State, while Cal Poly and Northern Colorado were a late start Saturday night. Both Poly and UNC are playoff eligible but the Mustangs are expected to have a stronger resume.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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