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Big Sky Conference Announces New 13-Team Football Schedules For 2012-15
The Big Sky Conference has released its football schedules for the 2012-2015 seasons, the first four that will feature a 13-team, one-division format.
All Big Sky teams will continue to play eight conference games with four at home and four on the road. Each team will have two “rivals” it will play each season. Over the course of the four years, each Big Sky team will play each other a minimum of two times.
Big Sky Conference athletic directors recently approved the schedules.
“We’re embarking on an exciting time in the Big Sky with expansion,'’ said conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton. “We’ve created an eight-game conference schedule that still allows our institutions non-conference scheduling flexibility. The format keeps several strong rivalries intact, and will create new rivalries.'’
The Big Sky Conference announced this past September that UC Davis and Cal Poly would join the league in 2012 as football-only members. In November, North Dakota and Southern Utah accepted invitations to join as full members.
The upcoming season will be the last for the Big Sky as a nine-team league. The new Big Sky members will play their inaugural conference games during the 2012 season.
North Dakota will play its first conference game on Sept. 22, 2012 when it travels to Sacramento State. The following week, North Dakota will play its first home conference game at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D., against Cal Poly.
UC Davis and Cal Poly will battle in each teams’ inaugural conference game on Sept. 22, 2012 at Cal Poly. UC Davis will play its home conference opener the following week against Weber State.
Southern Utah’s first conference game will be at Portland State on Sept. 22, 2012. The Thunderbirds return home the following week to take on Montana State.
The annual Montana-Montana State rivalry game will remain the last weekend of the season, the same spot it has been played since the early 1990s. In 2012, Montana State takes on Montana on Nov. 17. In fact, the schedule places all “traditional rival” games on the last week of the season.
The Causeway Classic rivalry between Sacramento State and UC Davis will be played as a Big Sky Conference game for the first time on Nov. 17, 2012 at Davis. The teams have played 58 times previously.
Eastern Washington and Portland State, who now play for the “Dam Cup” will play the final weekend of the regular season, as will Idaho State and Weber State, and Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
Although teams will play just eight conference games, Big Sky schools will also have the option to schedule league members in non-conference games. For example, Montana and North Dakota were already scheduled to play a non-conference game in 2013 in Grand Forks. That will remain a non-conference game.
“Scheduling non-conference games, especially against other Championship Subdivision programs has become increasingly difficult in the West,'’ Fullerton said. “Since nearly all of the FCS schools in the region now reside in the Big Sky Conference, our institutions need to have the option to play each other as non-conference opponents in years they aren’t playing conference games.'’
The unveiling of the football schedules is the first step as the league prepares for expansion. The conference is working on developing a tiebreaker formula to determine the regular-season conference champion which determines the conference’s automatic bid to the Division I playoffs.
Big Sky Conference athletic directors, senior women administrators, and faculty athletic representatives will meet in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 23-25 for the annual spring meetings. Representatives from North Dakota, Southern Utah, Cal Poly and UC Davis will also be in attendance. League presidents will hold their annual spring meetings in early June in Salt Lake City.
By Big Sky Conference Medioa Relations