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Bison to open 2017 season against Charleston Southern on ESPN at Fargodome

FARGO -- North Dakota State completed its 2016 football schedule on Tuesday with the announcement that FCS playoff team Charleston Southern will come to the Fargodome on Aug. 27. Moreover, for the second straight season, the Bison will be playing...

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Bruce Anderson of North Dakota State University. (Dave Wallis / The Forum)

FARGO -- North Dakota State completed its 2016 football schedule on Tuesday with the announcement that FCS playoff team Charleston Southern will come to the Fargodome on Aug. 27. Moreover, for the second straight season, the Bison will be playing in the ESPN FCS Kickoff.

That 6:30 p.m. game will be nationally televised on the main ESPN network and will be only one of two games aired that day in any division. California and Hawaii are playing in Australia that morning.

It makes for a rather tasty schedule for NDSU fans with Eastern Washington being the other non-conference home opponent. Missouri Valley Football Conference home games are Illinois State, South Dakota State, Youngstown State and Indiana State. All are or have been conference title threats in the last couple of years.

Charleston Southern, from the Big South Conference, reached the FCS quarterfinals before bowing to eventual runner-up Jacksonville State (Ala.) 58-38 in Jacksonville. The Buccaneers finished 10-3.

NDSU also announced a 2017 home game against Robert Morris University (Pa.) to at least complete two-thirds of that season's nonconference schedule. The Bison travel to Eastern Washington as part of a home-and-home contract.

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The ESPN FCS Kickoff is in its third year of existence with Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington starting the early game in the 2014 season and the Bison and Montana playing last season in Missoula. The Charleston Southern game will be yet another appearance in what is now becoming a long line of ESPN games for the five-time defending FCS champions. It will be the first time on the main network for CSU, based in Charleston, S.C.

The Buccaneers return seven all-Big South players with eight starters back on a defense that finished ninth in the FCS in total defense. They will most certainly open the season ranked in the top 10 in both the FCS coaches and media polls.

Their school-record 10 wins last year included beating previously undefeated and No. 1-ranked Coastal Carolina and defeating league foe and playoff participant The Citadel twice. Their other two losses were to FBS teams Troy (44-16) and the University of Alabama (56-6).

"This is a great test for us to open against a top 10 opponent," said Bison head coach Chris Klieman, "and it will be exciting for our team to face another FBS opponent this year."

NDSU plays at the University of Iowa on Sept. 17, one week after facing Eastern.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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