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College football: NDSU game time could present challenges

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By Jeff Kolpack, The Forum

FARGO, N.D. — Instead of a Saturday afternoon showdown, it’s Friday night lights for the North Dakota State football team. It’s good for national exposure, but not so good for some fans and graduating seniors.

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The NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision semifinal game against Georgia Southern has a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday at the Fargodome — three hours after the start of NDSU’s midterm graduation at the Bison Sports Arena. Bison athletic director Gene Taylor said the school may encourage graduation participants to park south of the arena on campus.

ESPN makes the decision on which semifinal game is Friday night and which one is on Saturday. NDSU requested a Saturday matchup, but Taylor said producers at ESPN probably figured the Bison game would make for the best Friday prime-time ratings.

The game will air on ESPN2.

NDSU has had Thursday night home openers in the past, the last in 2008 against Austin Peay University (Tenn.). But a Friday night game in December is unique to a fan base that has packed the dome all season on Saturdays.

“It could be a challenge for folks who have to drive across the state,” Taylor said.

NDSU has season ticket holders from all corners of North Dakota and many areas of Minnesota who make the drive to every home game. About 1,500 available tickets on Sunday sold out fast. Season ticket holders, more than 12,000 of them, have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to claim their seats. Any unclaimed tickets will go on sale at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The winner of the NDSU and Georgia Southern game plays the winner of Saturday’s matchup between Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State (Texas) for the national title. NDSU is the defending champion.

Tailgating lots for the Bison game will open five hours before kickoff as usual.

“I imagine people will still find a way to attend a semifinal game,” Taylor said.

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