WHERE: Fargodome, Fargo, North Dakota

KICKOFF: 3:30 p.m. Saturday


ALL-TIME SERIES: This is the first meeting between the teams. Maine was scheduled to play at North Dakota State on Sept. 15, 2001, but the game was canceled just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

KEY STAT: Nine, the number of Football Championship Subdivision national titles won by North Dakota State since 2011. The Bison were runner-up last season to South Dakota State.

OUTLOOK: This week, Maine faces its toughest non-conference FCS opponent since playing Eastern Washington in the 2018 semifinals. North Dakota State is ranked No. 2 in the country and is coming off a 35-10 win over Eastern Washington. Maine is coming off a 14-12 loss at Florida International of the Football Bowl Subdivision, a game in which the Black Bears held the Panthers to just 13 rushing yards. Running back Tristen Kenan had a strong debut for Maine last week, running for 108 yards and a touchdown in his college debut. Quarterback Derek Robertson threw for 213 yards with Montigo Moss (three catches for 50 yards) and Jamie Lamson (six catches for 48 yards) his top targets. The Black Bears must contend with a strong Bison defense that held Eastern Washington to 72 rushing yards and 5 for 17 on third down. Bison defensive tackle Eli Mostaert was named to the preseason watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the top FCS defensive player. Safety Cole Wisniewski made 11 tackles and had an interception last week, while linebacker Logan Kopp made 10 stops, including a sack.

Maine’s defense looked much improved in last week’s game. After ranking 12th of 13 teams in the Coastal Athletic Association last season in total defense, allowing 412.45 yards per game, the Black Bears limited FIU to 305 yards and forced a pair of turnovers. An untested front seven led by linebacker Darius McKenzie and defensive lineman Izaiah Henderson, as well as an experienced secondary led by safeties Robby Riobe and Shakur Smalls will need to have a strong game for Maine against a Bison offense that averaged 34 points per game last season. North Dakota State piled up 513 yards against Eastern Washington last week, 337 on the ground. Cole Payton and TaMerik Williams, a preseason favorite for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top FCS offensive player, lead the Bison ground game. Quarterback Cam Miller is an efficient passer coming off an 18 for 24 game for 174 yards and two touchdown passes.

OF NOTE: Since 2011, the year the Bison won their first national championship, they are 77-4 in non-conference games. The losses were to Montana in 2015, FBS opponent Arizona in 2021, and playoff losses to eventual national champs James Madison (2016) and Sam Houston State (2020-21). … Maine is looking for its first victory over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 13 Albany, 38-34, on March 13, 2021. … Maine is 3-4 all-time against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference, although the Black Bears haven’t faced a team from the league since falling to Northern Iowa in the 2008 FCS playoffs. Maine head coach Jordan Stevens played for Maine in that game. … This is the second of three non-conference games on Maine’s schedule this season. The Black Bears host Long Island University on Oct. 14.

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