(STATS) – As if North Dakota State and Charleston Southern weren't playing enough tough competition at the beginning of the 2016 season, they've added yet another rugged matchup – against each other.
The FCS powers will get the subdivision's football season underway by facing off in the third annual FCS Kickoff on Aug. 27 at the Fargodome. The start time for the spotlight game on ESPN is 7:30 p.m. ET.
Missouri Valley Football Conference power North Dakota State has won a record five straight FCS national championships. Charleston Southern exploded onto the national scene last season, winning the Big South title and reaching the playoff quarterfinals.
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Both teams will return veteran cores, especially within their run game and defense. The Bison are 71-5 over the last five years, including 13-2 last season under coach Chris Klieman. Charleston Southern, which is 28-10 in three seasons under coach Jamey Chadwell – only five of those losses are against FCS opponents – went 10-3 and finished sixth in the final STATS FCS Top 25 last season.
“We believe we have the best facility and fans in the FCS, and look forward to an electric atmosphere for opening night on ESPN,” Klieman said.
“Having the opportunity to compete in the FCS Kickoff and play on ESPN validates what our football program has been able to accomplish over the last three years,” Chadwell said. “Our goal is to be the best. We are getting the opportunity to play the standard in FCS football and will get to see how we stack up against the best.”
NDSU lost at Montana 38-35 in last year's FCS Kickoff. Eastern Washington won the inaugural game in 2014, 56-35 over Sam Houston State.
ESPN programmers had pursued getting Eastern Washington's visit to NDSU on Sept. 10 moved to this year's FCS Kickoff. That's a matchup of the two most recent FCS championship programs, because the Eagles won the title in 2010 before the Bison's five-year run.
The first-ever matchup between Charleston Southern and NDSU is excellent as well. Neither team is easing into the season as Charleston Southern also will visit Florida State on Sept. 10, and NDSU has the EWU game on Sept. 10 and then visits Iowa on Sept. 17.
Unlike the first two FCS Kickoffs, the CSU-NDSU matchup won't be the first of the season. ESPN already has an FBS game scheduled earlier for Aug. 27, with California and Hawaii squaring off in Melbourne, Australia.