(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)
Today, the state of North Dakota will have its eyes affixed to the happenings inside the Fargodome at Gate City Bank Field. A packed stadium, combined with a strong television audience will see a start of a new chapter in the historic UND-NDSU rivalry on the gridiron. Thousands will flood the parking lot of the Fargodome for what promises to be a wonderful tailgating atmosphere.
Why does all of this matter?
It is a new day in North Dakota. Not only is the greatest FCS school playing UND, that happened back in 2015. Now, this game marks the first time in the Division One history of both of these historic universities that these teams are guaranteed to play yearly against each other.
Next year when UND moves to the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) they will see these Bison and this game every single year.
Why does this matter?
When the eyes of the college football world are on you, people tend to come together no matter what side of the rivalry you represent. With that comes opportunities for more people outside of this state to notice what’s going on in North Dakota. Will College GameDay come here for this rivalry next year? Probably not, however should UND elevate their play to the MVFC standard and challenge these Bison over the next few years, that is something that we could one day see.
Well, as Bison fans know, having College GameDay come to your city elevates the game, the atmosphere, and local businesses who will have nothing themselves to do with the game. Whenever College GameDay comes to a town, especially when they host it in the downtown area, people coalesce around the place and a lot more people tune in to ESPN and end up learning more about the town the ESPN show heads to.
This, combined with this rivalry being back for good can only benefit this state. No matter the outcome today, the Peace Garden State will come together for three plus hours today around a game that so many people here love. Countless kids will watch this game today, perhaps their first ever college football game on television or in person and say ” I want to be like_____” and that sort of moment, that defining moment can shape the next generation of football players.
More North Dakotans seeing the two Division One Schools playing each other every single year will only benefit this sport in the long run. The same way people talk about Mike Mooney and his exploits against the Bison today from that day in 1993 will one day hold true for those playing in this game today and countless years after. Said exploits on the field inspire people, and drive them to consider playing football or simply coming to either school.
In short, yes to these players it is not a rivalry yet, but to the fans of both teams, today means so much more, it is a start of a new epoch in a long running series of football games, that no matter allegiances brings this town together.