Winners of the last four FCS titles, Eastern and Bison will square off in Fargo in 2016 and in Cheney in 2017
The dream matchup that hasn't taken place the last three years will occur in 2016 and 2017.
Eastern Washington and North Dakota State – the only NCAA Football Championship Subdivision teams to win a national title since 2009 – will play a home-and-home series with each other starting in 2016, the two schools mutually announced Friday (Aug. 8).
The Bison and Eagles will play each other in Fargo on Sept. 10, 2016, then play at "The Inferno" in Cheney, Wash., on Sept. 16, 2017. Eastern won the 2010 title, including an overtime victory over the Bison in the quarterfinals, but NDSU has won every playoff game since en route to titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Although the Eagles have advanced to the semifinals of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, they've fallen short of facing the Bison in the title tilt.
"We are extremely excited to schedule a home and home with North Dakota State," said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves. "We have such tremendous respect for what the Bison have accomplished over the past several seasons. By playing a series like this, we hope that it can help to continue to elevate the FCS brand throughout the country."
This year, the Eagles are the favorite to win the national title with North Dakota State a close second. Earlier Friday, The Sports Network announced that the Eagles are No. 1 in their preseason poll, and three national publications also pegged the Eagles for the top slot. However, in the coaches poll announced Aug. 4, NDSU was No. 1, just 21 votes ahead of Eastern.
North Dakota State's last playoff loss came in 2010 at the hands of the Eagles by a 38-31 score in overtime. Eastern needed a late scoring drive to extend the game, scored to open OT, then forced a fumble to clinch the thrilling win.
The Eagles finished the 2013 season 12-3 and a perfect 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time in school history. Eastern opened the season with a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State, and went on to advance to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the third time in four years.
North Dakota State, a member of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, were a perfect 15-0 in the 2013 season. Northern Iowa, a team the Eagles will play in 2015 and 2016, is also a member of that league.