The long awaited Spring 2021 schedule has been released and it’s chalk full of quality.
Most football folks figured the FCS would come up with something for a spring season after the fall season was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. But, nobody knew quite how it would look and how many games there would be, etc.
UND will play an 8-game MVFC conference schedule and the teams will be the same as they were set to play this fall. The order got flipped on it’s ear, however.
UND opens the season vs. Missouri State on February 20th at the Alerus Center and then plays the #5 SDSU Jackrabbits the next Saturday (Feb 27th) at home, as well. The interesting twist is just 5 days later they play South Dakota on a Thursday, March 4th at the Alerus Center. So they open the season with three straight home games and plays two games in a five day span. That’s going to test depth if there are injuries in the Jackrabbit game.
The Hawks have a bye week then play two in a row on the road in the state of Illinois – March 20th at #9 Illinois State and March 27th at Western Illinois. For those wondering the weather in Illinois is typically in the mid-50s come late March so it shouldn’t be too bad.
UND returns home to face the improved #24 Southern Illinois Salukis on April 3rd. The Salukis are playing one game this fall vs. SEMO on Oct 23rd.
To finish up the season, the Hawks play on the road in back-to-back weeks vs. Youngstown State and #1 NDSU. That is a tough way to end the season.
The Hawks play four ranked teams according to the preseason polls and don’t play Indiana State or #3 Northern Iowa.
In a related topic, the FCS overlords released the criteria for the 2021 playoffs recently. It will be a 16-team playoff instead of the usual 24-team. Of note, there will only be FIVE at-large bids for the entire division. So essentially teams need to be 6-2 at worst, probably 7-1 if they don’t have a couple high-caliber victories on their resume. Making the playoffs this year will be tougher than it’s been in a long time. The bracket will be announced on April 18th.
The Hawks are set to begin “Fall Ball” on October 5th. It is essentially a fall version of spring ball. They get 15 practices over the course of 34 days, meaning it will be completed well in advance of Thanksgiving break. This will be HUGE for the both freshman classes as they get real, live practice reps before the season starts. Plus, the true freshman (and the rest of the roster) can still play in all 8 games if need be this spring and not have it count against their clock. Gonna be a juggling act for the staff, no doubt.