Time to start speculating on possible replacement games for SD Mines and/or Central Arkansas (if true about the UCA buyout). We have previously stated our reason(s) for replacing the Mines game.
The most obvious direction for scheduling a replacement(s) would be to start in the Big Sky. Once the future Big Sky schedules were released, it was also stated that because there are 13 teams, the members have the option of scheduling extra games vs. conference opponents. We do think that could be difficult but it is always an option.
Here’s what we know so far about next year’s Big Sky Schedule:
UND already has Sacramento State, Cal-Poly, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Montana, Montana State, Southern Utah and Northern Colorado on the Big Sky schedule. That leaves Weber State, Idaho State, Portland State and UC-Davis as potential BSC candidates to replace either the SD Mines or UCA game. The obvious other regional options would be USD or SDSU but both appear to be full on the first two weeks of the season.
Weber State – already scheduled to play at Fresno State and BYU to open their season. Ouch. Scheduling possibility: Not an option in 2012.
Idaho State – haven’t seen anything publicly on their 2012 non-conference schedule yet, but we have a hard time believing they would schedule UND considering the Sioux beat them at their place in 2008 and bought out the return game in Grand Forks. Traditionally, it looks as though they like to get paid at least once (FBS) and like to schedule a win (D2). Played Washington State, BYU and D2 Western State in 2011. Played Utah State, Georgia and NAIA Montana Western in 2010. Played Arizona State, Oklahoma and D2 Central Washington in 2009. Scheduling possibility: Not likely an option in 2012.
UC-Davis – nothing to be seen publicly yet on their 2012 non-conference schedule. Makes a lot of sense given their Great West Conference history and scheduling with UND. Have scheduled multiple FBS and FCS teams for non-conference schedule in the past because of the lack of conference games in Great West. Scheduling UND could help them avoid the dreaded non-counter game.
Scheduling possibility: A plausible option that makes a lot of sense for 2012, but we do not know their scheduled non-conference games thus far.
Portland State – They play the University of Washington on Sept. 15th but we have not seen anything for the first two weeks. In 2011, they played TCU and NAIA programs Willamette and Southern Oregon. Played Arizona State, Oregon and UC-Davis in 2010. Quite a stark contrast from one year to the next. Interesting to note that Portland went 7-4 this year and missed the playoffs because of their 2 NAIA wins. We aren’t sure if UC-Davis owes them a return trip or not anytime soon. If not, there could be a potential opening for UND to look up here for a home-and-home contract.
Scheduling possibility: A plausible option that makes a lot of sense for 2012, but we do not know their week 1-2 non-conference games thus far.
The NEC – The Northeast Conference is typically a conference that is late to fill out their schedules. They could definitely be an option but we have not seen any of their 2012 schedules yet.
The Pioneer League - The Sioux opened the season against Drake this past season and have Valparaiso on the schedule for 2013. It would definitely be an option to try and get another Pioneer league team on the schedule for 2012 as they are a counter and the Sioux should be favored no matter who the team is.
Teams out east with hockey scheduling ties – teams like Maine and New Hampshire typically only have 2 games to fill each season out of conference because of the CAA conference schedule. They also like to pay the bills with a game against an FBS opponent. With the proximity of a number of FCS schools in their region, scheduling an FCS OOC game is done much easier, and they don’t need to agree to a home and home with a team in the midwest. The only probable option is to pay them a hefty guarantee for a home game. Other FBS hockey scheduling options would be Boston College, Miami (OH), and Bowling Green. Obviously those would be pay-day travel games for UND.
Scheduling Posssibility: Plausible, but not likely for 2012. (Need to fill the Alerus to make it more plausible in the future)