Sunday, November 20, 2011 | Valley Football
Valley Co-Champs Earn Playoff Bids

Missouri Valley Football co-champions UNI (9-2, 7-1) and North Dakota State (10-1, 7-1) will represent the league in the NCAA Division I Football Championship and have earned first-round byes in the 20-team field.

Two or more MVFC teams have made the playoffs in each of the past 16 seasons, and a league team has appeared in four championship games and in 14 semifinal games. The Panthers are ranked No. 2 in this week's Sports Network/Fathead.com poll, while North Dakota State is No. 4. The league's other ranked team in that poll, Illinois State (7-4, 5-3) did not receive an at-large spot in the 20-team field.

North Dakota State claimed a share of the program’s first Missouri Valley Football Conference championship with a 7-1 record. It is NDSU’s 28th conference title overall and the first since 2006 when the Bison won the Great West Football Conference championship. North Dakota State will make its 25th postseason appearance including its second straight in the NCAA FCS playoffs. The Bison have compiled a 37-14 record overall, 32-13 in NCAA postseason play (including 17 NCAA Division II) and 2-1 in the FCS playoffs. NDSU won its first two games in the NCAA FCS playoffs before falling 38-31 in overtime to eventual champion Eastern Washington in the quarterfinal round. North Dakota State won national championships in 1965, 1968, 1969, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1990.

With a 23-20, double-overtime win at No. 14 Illinois State, UNI clinched a share of its 16th conference title -- the most in league history. The Panthers have won or shared seven titles since head coach Mark Farley took over in 2001. The Panthers have posted nine or more regular season wins on five different occasions since 2001. UNI accomplished the feat in 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008 and now 2011. UNI lost in the first round of last year's playoffs to Lehigh.


Teams in Championship: 20
Automatic Bids: 10
At-Large Bids: 10

10 Automatic Bids:
Big Sky Conference
Big South Conference
Colonial Athletic Association
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Missouri Valley Football Conference
Northeast Conference
Ohio Valley Conference
Patriot League
Southern Conference
Southland Conference

NCAA Championship
First Round: Four sites
All first round games - Saturday, November 26
Saturday, November 26 at Noon (ET) – ESPNU/ESPNUHD/ESPN3
Saturday, November 26 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, November 26 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, November 26 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3

Second Round: Eight sites
All second round games – Saturday, December 3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 3 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3

Quarterfinals: Four sites
Friday, December 9 at 8 p.m. (ET) – ESPN2/ESPN2HD/ESPN3
Saturday, December 10 at Noon (ET) - ESPN/ESPNHD/ESPN3
Saturday, December 10 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3
Saturday, December 10 at TBD (ET) – ESPN3

Semifinals: Two sites
Friday, December 16 at 8 p.m. (ET) – ESPN2/ESPN2HD/ESPN3 Saturday, December 17 at 2:30 p.m. (ET) – ESPNU/ESPNUHD/ESPN3

National Championship: Saturday, January 7, 2012, 1 p.m. (ET) - ESPN2/ESPN2HD/ESPN3
Pizza Hut Park, Frisco, Texas


Years of Championship: This will be the 34th NCAA Division I Football Championship.

Teams that sponsor NCAA Division I Football (FCS): 124 (117 are eligible for championship)

Most titles: Georgia Southern (6)

Recent team champions:
2010 – Eastern Washington
2009 – Villanova
2008 – Richmond
2007 – Appalachian State
2006 – Appalachian State
2005 – Appalachian State
2004 – James Madison
2003 – Delaware
2002 – Western Kentucky
2001 – Montana
2000 – Georgia Southern

Official NCAA Website: www.NCAA.com/fcs