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Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh was complimentary of UND's rebuilding project during Wednesday's Big Sky Conference coaches' conference call.
UND hasn't advanced to the FCS playoffs in its Division I era and a win against the Mustangs would put the Fightings Hawks in the conversation. The FCS playoffs feature 24 teams, including 10 automatic bids for conference champions and 14 at large bids. The first round of the postseason is played at home sites, which are determined through a bidding process. The committee typically attempts to pair teams regionally.
Walsh impressed with UND
wetlandsOUTDOORS Men Canada Goose Heli Arctic Parka Grey Outlet Nz CALENDARopinionHeadlinesPort: We need a "None of the above" option on our ballotsOUR OPINION: Kudos to UND for photo findingsVIEWPOINT: Tobacco tax hike proposals ignore economic realityLETTER: North Dakota protest response shows Cavalry mentality LETTER: Let medical marijuana work in North DakotaSAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. The UND football team will play its first game with the Fighting Hawks nickname in the biggest matchup of the program's Division I era.
"This would be a huge step," UND second year coach Bubba Schweigert said. "It would help in recruiting and exposure for our program. People would see some of the good things taking place on the field."
"We really didn't have a timeline," Schweigert said. "We were going to do it as quick as we can and put the best team out there. We felt we could get the program going quickly, and we'll keep approaching it that way."
Southern Utah is guaranteed at least a share of the conference title, regardless of the outcome of this weekend's games.
UND was 3 8 in Chris Mussman's final season in 2013 and bounced back with a 5 7 record in Schweigert's first year.
If Southern Utah beats Northern Arizona in the season finale, the Thunderbirds will win the conference outright. If Portland State defeats Eastern Washington, the Vikings could win the title with a Montana win over Montana State and a Northern Arizona win over Southern Utah. The Vikings can also win with a victory of its own and a Montana State win over Montana.
If Northern Arizona, Montana and Eastern Washington win, the Grizzlies would receive the automatic bid. If Montana State, Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington win, the Lumberjacks would win the bid.
"We know inside the walls (at Memorial Stadium), there are good things going on, but to have a signature season to get in the FCS playoffs would be huge at this time," Schweigert said. "It's so important that we go out and perform well."
All on the line for UND
Big Sky title still up for grabs
Schweigert's rebuilding project has played out quicker than many expected.
UND can't win the Big Sky's automatic bid to the postseason with a league championship, but four teams (Southern Utah, Portland State, Montana and Northern Arizona) remain in the hunt.
UND (6 4 overall) faces Cal Poly (4 6) at 8 Saturday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium with postseason hopes hanging in the balance.