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North Dakota will again play Big Sky opponents while waiting to join Missouri Valley in 2020

Six-year head coach Bubba Schweigert’s Fighting Hawks have a decent quarterback, a deep offensive line and a solid receiving corps, as well as a couple of top-notch linebackers.

(Russell Hons / University of North Dakota)

A member of the Big Sky Conference for six of the past seven seasons, the University of North Dakota football team is again officially an independent this season — the only FCS school in that category — and, just like last season, will continue to play Big Sky opponents this year as it transitions to the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020.

By joining the MVFC, North Dakota will be reviving some of its historic rivalries against schools in the Dakotas.

“The addition of the University of North Dakota to the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020 will complete the league’s FCS footprint in the Midwest,” said MVFC Commissioner Patty Viverito in announcing that UND was joining the conference back in January 2017. “This also will re-establish long-standing football rivalries in the Dakotas and open the way for equally satisfying new rivalries throughout the league. Most importantly, UND brings yet another nationally competitive program to the MVFC which is already, arguably, the strongest FCS conference.”






In the meantime, North Dakota agreed to play eight Big Sky opponents this season as part of an agreement with that conference, but is now officially considered an independent — the same category it was in last year.

After opening the season with a home date against Drake on August 31, a trip to Fargo to take on rival North Dakota State the following week and a home encounter against Sam Houston State a week later, North Dakota (6-5) will play Big Sky members Eastern Washington, UC Davis, Idaho State, Cal Poly, Montana State, Weber State, Northern Colorado and Southern Utah.

Six-year head coach Bubba Schweigert’s Fighting Hawks have a decent quarterback, a deep offensive line and a solid receiving corps, as well as a couple of top-notch linebackers and could give several of their Big Sky opponents, including preseason favorite Eastern Washington and highly-touted Weber State and UC Davis — the latter of whom they play in Grand Forks on October 5th — some trouble this season.

It would be a nice parting gift to the conference they’ve called home in recent years.






Senior defensive end Mason Bennett, a 6-4, 257-pound native of Winnipeg who led the team with nine sacks in 2018 — just two shy of the school record — is among Schweigert’s returning starters.

Quarterback Nate Ketteringham, a redshirt senior who threw for 1,835 yards and sixteen touchdown passes in 2018 while rushing for an additional 330 yards and scoring six TD’s, will again guide the UND offense.

Darcy G. Richardson is a historian and the author of more than a dozen books. His latest is Loyola's Improbable Ramblers: 55 Years in the Making, available now on Amazon.

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