Big Sky and Missouri Valley football announce ‘Challenge Series’
The Northern Arizona football team found themselves in the heart of Tuesday’s joint announcement between the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Big Sky Conference’s Challenge Series this upcoming season.
The Challenge Series between the two leagues is part of an effort between two of the premier FCS conferences to publicize current matchups and promote future non-conference scheduling.
“The Big Sky and Missouri Valley Football Conferences have a great history of football success,” Andrea Williams, commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, said. “It was important to both leagues to highlight and promote the outstanding achievements of our players, coaches and programs. This year will be no different, with top teams in the country meeting in great non-conference matchups.”
The Lumberjacks will compete in two of the eight matchups this fall between the two leagues, starting with NAU’s home opener versus No. 25 Western Illinois on Sept. 9 in the Walkup Skydome. NAU also hosts No. 20 Illinois State on Oct. 7 and is one of two Big Sky schools – including North Dakota – to have multiple MVFC teams on its 2017 slate. Over the past four seasons, institutions in the two conferences have played one another 35 times. The MVFC has the advantage in that span, although the Big Sky and MVFC split last year’s eight meetings, 4-4.
This year, institutions in the two leagues will play one another eight times, including six times at Big Sky sites. A total of nine teams representing the two leagues highlight the STATS FCS top-25 preseason rankings, and all eight matchups will feature at least one team that is a preseason top-25 squad, and in two of those matchups both teams are ranked.