Photos By Hillary Ehlen
Central Arkansas Bears
2019: 9-4 (7-2 in Southland Conference)
2019 Finish: Lost 24-14 to Illinois State in FCS Playoffs
2020: 2-1 this season.
Head Coach: Nathan Brown (Third Season): 17-10 before 2020 season.
Program On The Rise: The Bears have qualified for the FCS Playoffs three of the last four seasons. This included a 31-24 victory over Illinois State in 2016’s playoffs.
Rushing: Carlos Blackman (Graduated) – 698 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns.
Leading Returner: Kierre Crossley – 303 rushing yards.
Passing: Breylin Smith (Returner) – 3,704 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 64.5 completion percentage.
Receiving: Tyler Hudson (Returning) – 55 receptions, 975 yards, 12 touchdowns.
Defense: Juan Jackson (Graduated) – 67 total tackles
Leading Returner: TJ Campbell (Linebacker) – 65 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble.
A common theme throughout the Southland Conference is high-powered offense with defensive prowess coming second. While Central Arkansas has enjoyed success in recent seasons, the Bears seem to fall into that common Southland trend. Nathan Brown’s team surrendered nearly 408 yards per game to opposing offenses in 2019. On the flip side, the Bears only averaged 381 yards as an offense last seasons with almost 293 yards coming through the air.
That’s not to say Central Arkansas is a slouch of a team by any means. In 2019, they were still able to capture valuable wins over Austin Peay and perennial Southland power Sam Houston State. Much of this was thanks to the play of Breylin Smith under center. Smith, now a junior, threw for 3,704 passing yards in 2019 with 32 touchdowns through the air. He was an All-Southland second-teamer as well as a first-team sophomore All-American according to HERO Sports.
While the Bears seem to show cracks on the defensive side of the ball, Smith’s talent alone could keep them competitive against NDSU. However, with the Bison and their high-octane offense, it may take a heroic effort.
North Dakota State Bison
2019: 16-0 (8-0 in Missouri Valley Football Conference)
2019 Finish: Defeated James Madison 28-20 in the FCS national championship.
Head Coach: Matt Entz (Second Season): 16-0 2020 season.
The FCS Juggernaut: The Bison have dominated the FCS since 2010, winning eight of the last nine national championships and holding a near-permanent residency in Frisco, Texas.
Rushing: Trey Lance (Returning) – 1,100 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns.
Key Returner: Adam Cofield – 813 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns
Passing: Trey Lance – 2,786 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 66.9 completion percentage.
Receiving: Christian Watson (Returning) – 34 receptions, 732 yards, 6 touchdowns.
Defense: Jackson Hankey (Returner) – 127 total tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1 sack.
Key Returner: Michael Tutsie (Safety) – 105 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions.
It’s really hard to find a term that adequately describes the 2019 North Dakota State team that ran through the FCS en route to their eighth national title. Buzzsaw may be the best descriptor as the Bison outscored their opponents by a staggering average of 24.9 points per game over a 16-game campaign last year. Not only that, but NDSU was also able to average 496.5 total yards per game on offense over the course of the season. That was met with an equally dominant effort on defense. The Bison’s Code Green defense surrendered a paltry 12.3 points per game along with just 274.7 yards per game to opposing offenses.
One of the key cogs in the 2019 machine was quarterback Trey Lance. Perhaps one of the most gifted athletes NDSU has ever had, Lance led the Bison in rushing and passing yards. He was able to find the endzone a combined 42 times in 2019. The most staggering thing? Lance did not turn the ball over once, failing to fumble or throw an interception in 16 starts.
The difference in this game may come down to just how powerful NDSU’s offense is. Nearly every single weapon has returned for 2020 and 2019’s offense was already considered one of the best in program history. On paper, its hard to find a weakness anywhere on the field. Against a potentially porous defense in Central Arkansas, the Bison may have themselves a field day on October 3.
What You Need To Know
In accordance with the Fargodome, the City Of Fargo, Fargo Cass Public Health and NDSU, the game against Central Arkansas will hold a maximum of 10,000 people inside the Fargodome. The reduced crowd size and other measures are in place to create a safe game environment for fans, student- athletes and coaches of both programs.
Parking And Entering The Fargodome
Fargodome parking lots, designated NDSU parking lots and the Fargodome east ticket lobby will open at 12 p.m. Fargodome doors will open 30 minutes earlier than usual at 12:30 p.m. to allow additional spacing for entry. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Tailgating is not allowed at all on October 3. Also, parking in designated lots will be limited to passenger vehicles only. Meaning, that recreational vehicles, buses and trailers will not be allowed at the Fargodome. Those that have reserved parking or tailgating passes will retain their spots.
Bags are discouraged, and patrons should be mindful of bag size restrictions outlined in the Fargodome event guidelines and policies. Metal detectors will continue to be used at all entrances.
Full event guidelines and policies can be found at fargodome.com/guidelines-policies
Social Distancing And Mask Guidelines
Masks will be required upon entering the Fargodome and must be worn throughout the duration of the game. For those that do not have a mask, one will be provided.
Failure to follow the directions of event personnel or failure to wear a mask (when not eating or drinking) could result in ticket revocation and the loss of ticket privileges in the future.
Ticket holders will be assigned to their season ticket location. However, additional seats throughout the stadium will be left empty for fans who wish to relocate for additional space.Open seats are first-come, first-serve in the following designated physical distancing areas:
• Sections 7-9 (Rows AA-II)
• Sections 10-12 (Rows A-II)
• Sections 13-15 (Rows P-Z)
• Section 23 (Rows R-KK)
• Section 24 (Rows CC-II)
• Section 29 (Rows CC-II)
Fargodome concession stands will be open with additional protection measures at each location. Hand sanitizer will be available near entrances and restrooms. Also, floor stickers will provide guidance for fans to safely distance from others.
Game programs will not be available for sale, but a free digital game program will be accessible through the NDSU Athletics mobile app. The app is free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
For the eighth time in nine years, NDSU will raise a new national championship banner into the rafters of the Fargodome during a pregame ceremony. The Bison have won 16 football national titles since 1965.
Also before the game, NDSU will introduce the Bison football senior class prior to the team taking the field. This recognition is typically held during the final regular-season game each fall.
Game Day Auction
NDSU Athletics will host an online game day auction starting this Saturday, Oct. 3, during the football game against Central Arkansas.
The online auction will launch with the items becoming visible at GoBison.com/Auctions at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday. The event lasts until Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. CT.
The auction will feature signed items, apparel, memorabilia and experiences exclusively available through NDSU Athletics. In addition to the items available on the auction, there will also be items available to purchase directly, including this season’s ‘Above All Else’ yard sign.
All proceeds will go toward NDSU student-athlete scholarships.
Regardless of if you are heading to the Fargodome for the football game or looking forward to your next NDSU sporting event, mobile ticketing is the future at NDSU. Not only do mobile tickets aid in the safety and health guidelines in today’s world, but they are incredibly convenient as well.
No longer will you need to fumble in your pocket or purse for tickets. With mobile ticketing through NDSU athletics, tickets are now optimized for use on your smartphone. This makes purchasing and transferring tickets mighty simple. It also allows for safe entry into a venue while helping to eliminate lost or stolen tickets.
Not only will mobile ticketing be employed for the October 3 football game, but it will also be encouraged throughout the athletic year. Take a step up with your tickets today with mobile ticketing at NDSU.
Find out more information and sign up for a mobile ticket account by heading to GoBison.com and following these steps:
1. Hover over the “Tickets” tab on the top of the page.
2. Click on “Mobile Tickets” in the left-hand column.
Watching From Home?
Fans who do not have tickets to the game may watch the game live on the NBC North Dakota television network or visit one of the many NDSU Team Makers preferred watch locations to support local businesses that support the Bison.
Radio coverage of the game will be available on the Peterson Farms Seed Bison Radio Network. The network can be heard on 25 stations across North Dakota and Minnesota.
Team Makers preferred watch locations around Fargo-Moorhead are:
2350 45th St S
Barcode Bar & Grill
835 23rd Ave E
Buffalo Wild Wings
1515 19th Ave N
Buffalo Wild Wings
1501 42nd St SW
Buffalo Wild Wings
2201 1st Ave N
620 Front St
3803 13th Ave S
Ramada by Wyndham
3333 13th Ave S
SideStreet Grille & Pub
404 4th Ave N
Town Hall Bar
103 Main Ave W
VFW Post 7564
444 Sheyenne St
Woody’s Bar & Grill
1550 32nd Ave S
Find a full list of Team Makers watch sites at ndsuathleticfund.com.