After having their previous three games cancelled, the number six ranked North Dakota Football team looked forward to finally getting back to action this Saturday. Unfortunately, they are going to have to wait another weekend to take the field as the rescheduled game against Youngstown State was called off. This leaves an idle Fighting Hawks team a week to prepare for playoff football next Saturday.
Youngstown State had completed a league high seven games this spring season but decided to conclude their season early plans to focus on finishing the semester strong academically while starting preparations for the upcoming fall campaign.
The cancelation of the final game of the year leaves the Hawks with a 4-1 record on the year with three wins against ranked opponents. The biggest of which coming in February as they took down the number three ranked South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
Following their four game undefeated start UND fell to the Bison in the Fargo Dome and has not played a game since. That was on March 20th. With a positive COVID-19 test in the North Dakota locker room the original game against Youngstown State was postponed. After more positive tests the following week, the home game against Missouri State was also cancelled. The final game of the original schedule was called off early in the season after their opponent, Illinois State, opted out of the remainder of the season.
“No, the next day is not necessarily promised. And so in this case, sometimes it’s the next hour. I think our guys will handle it well. Knock on wood, I hope there are still games left for our team. The one thing that is something our team has always wanted to do is play.” said athletic director Bill Chaves
On selection Sunday the Fighting Hawks learned their fate which would be a matchup against 14th ranked Missouri State. In their first playoff appearance since 1990, Missouri State carries a 5-1 spring record into the contest, not including three losses in the fall. The winner of the game will play either VMI or number one ranked James Madison in the next round.
This will be the third time that North Dakota has played in the 16-team FCS playoffs and are still searching for their first win. 2016 ended in a heartbreaking loss to Richmond and 2019 losing to Nicholls State. With over a month in between games it will be interesting to see if the Hawks will show up ready to play, or if a lethargic state will set in after kickoff.
Attendance limits are put in place for the game at the Alerus Center next Saturday at three p.m. 3,000 seats will be available as the facility will be working under 25 percent capacity. For students there is a reserved number of seats to be purchased in sets of two for $5 dollars.
James DeArman is a Dakota Student Sports Writer. He can be reached at [email protected]