SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- The 2018 Cal Poly football schedule, released Monday by Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman and head football coach Tim Walsh, features six home games and a season-opening trip to five-time Football Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State.
The Bison claimed national titles from 2011-15 before James Madison snapped the streak in the 2016 semifinals and went on to claim the FCS championship. Cal Poly will visit the 19,000-seat Fargodome on Sept. 1, 2018.
Several schools adjusted their 2018 schedules to accommodate Cal Poly and North Dakota State, including Delaware, Rhode Island and North Alabama. The Mustangs and Bison will be meeting for the eighth time -- North Dakota State leads the series 4-3 -- but have not played against each other since 2007.
The Bison have won 13 national championships -- eight in Division II -- and 33 conference titles. North Dakota State was a fellow member of the Great West Conference before moving to the Missouri Valley Conference in 2008. Cal Poly joined the Big Sky Conference in 2012.
Cal Poly will play six regular season games inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium for the first time since 2013 when FCS teams played 12-game schedules.
"This is obviously another challenging schedule," said Walsh. "Having the opportunity to compete against the best will only make us a better football team.
"Playing in the Fargodome against the national champion North Dakota State Bison will be a tremendous experience for our program," Walsh added. "Fargo, their fans, and a great program -- it will be challenging, yet it will make for an exciting opening game."
The home slate begins with a non-conference game against fellow Big Sky member Weber State on Sept. 8, followed the next week by Brown, also at home. The Bears, from the Ivy League, and Mustangs will be meeting for the first time on Sept. 15.
Cal Poly's only other football game against an Ivy League school was versus Yale in 2013.
"Playing Brown from the Ivy League should also be a great competitive football game for our fans," Walsh said. "That's two great academic institutions playing against each other. And Weber State, who I believe is currently the best team in our conference, as our third non-conference game is exciting to have at home."
Cal Poly also will host four Big Sky games, beginning with two-time national champion Montana on Sept. 29. Other home contests include UC Davis in the Battle for the Golden Horseshoe on Oct. 20 and the final two games of the regular season against Idaho State on Nov. 10 and Southern Utah on Nov. 17.
"Six home games! Unbelievable!," said Walsh, "including home games against Montana and the Horseshoe game versus UC Davis!! This is a great but challenging schedule for us."
The Mustangs' four Big Sky games on the road are Sept. 22 at Eastern Washington, Oct. 6 at Sacramento State, Oct. 27 at Northern Arizona and Nov. 3 at Montana State.
Cal Poly's streak of playing at least one Football Bowl Subdivision team will end at 12 years in 2018. The Mustangs have played 23 games against FBS schools since 2002, winning four, and previously announced games at Oregon State in 2019 and Cal in 2020.
The Mustangs will have a bye on Oct. 13.
Cal Poly will not play Big Sky members North Dakota, Southern Utah, Portland State and Northern Colorado in 2018. The Big Sky will undergo two changes in the near future, adding Idaho in 2018 and losing North Dakota in 2020.
Cal Poly was 25-15 in its first five seasons in the Big Sky, capturing the conference crown in 2012.