The Bison will host Central Arkansas, one of five Southland Conference teams playing a partial or full fall schedule. Central Arkansas is set to face three FBS opponents -- Arkansas State, UAB and Louisiana -- and play home-and-home series against Eastern Kentucky and Missouri State.
North Dakota State, led by star quarterback Trey Lance, has won 37 consecutive games and eight of the past nine FCS national titles. Lance will be among the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL draft, so the game represents a chance for him to showcase his talents to scouts.
ESPN's Todd McShay has Lance at No. 14 overall in his mock draft, and ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks Lance No. 15 among his prospects for the 2021 draft. Kiper ranks him No. 3 among quarterback prospects, only behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields.
North Dakota State is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, which, like most FCS leagues, postponed its fall season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league allowed members to play one non-league game this fall, at their own discretion. The Bison will resume practice Sept. 1 in preparation for the Central Arkansas contest, part of a three-game agreement between the schools that also includes meetings in 2023 and 2025.
"Due to the challenge completing a full non-conference schedule, we took a pause to consider all our options for this fall, knowing full well it could mean not having the opportunity to play," North Dakota State athletic director Matt Larsen said in a prepared statement. "Upon further consideration, coupled with recent information provided by the NCAA, we felt it was in the best interest of our football program to practice and play one game this fall."
Seating capacity at the Fargodome will be limited, and fans will be required to wear face coverings.