UND finds replacement game: Portland State to play in Grand Forks during 2012 seasonGRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota football team has a new opponent on its 2012 football schedule.
By: Wayne Nelson, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota football team has a new opponent on its 2012 football schedule.
Portland State of the Big Sky Conference will replace Central Arkansas in a game scheduled Sept. 8 at the Alerus Center.
Central Arkansas recently exercised a buyout clause in its home-and-home contract with UND. The teams met in 2009 in Conway, Ark., where UND came away with a 17-16 win against a program that qualified for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs this season. The Bears were supposed to return in 2012.
UND will join the Big Sky Conference next season but the Sept. 8 game against Portland State will be a nonconference contest. It also will be UND’s annual Potato Bowl.
“We’re lucky it worked out,” UND athletic director Brian Faison said of the scheduling switch. “Portland State happened to have a scheduling hole as well.”
The teams will meet in their first Big Sky Conference game in 2013, with that contest scheduled Oct. 19 in Portland.
Central Arkansas, which lost to Montana last week in the second round of the FCS playoffs, will have to pay $150,000 to buy out of its contract with UND. No reasons were given for the decision, but Central Arkansas is scheduled to play a guarantee game next season at Ole Miss — an FBS program.
With the addition of Portland State, UND still will have six home games in 2012 — a major goal for the athletic department since the school finally will eligible for the FCS playoffs for the first time as a Division I program.
As a playoff-eligible program, it’s important to schedule as many Division I teams as possible. Next season, 10 of UND’s 11 games will be against Division I competition.
Under the current FCS structure, teams generally need seven Division I wins to reach the playoffs if they do not win their conference regular-season title.
Nelson is the sports editor of the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.