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Stan Becton | | September 7, 2022

1 word to know about all 6 Big Sky-MVFC Challenge matchups

FCS football season preview: Players to watch, potential upsets and more

Two of the premier FCS conferences battle again as the Big Sky and Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) face off in this year's Big Sky-MVFC Challenge. In 2022, six games will feature a team from both conferences, with bragging rights and potential playoff implications on the line.

Here's one word you need to know about each matchup.

South Dakota at Montana | 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 10 

The word: All-Conference

Two 2021 FCS playoff teams meet in Week 2 as South Dakota heads to Montana. As one should expect with two playoff teams, both are loaded with preseason all-conference selections. Take a look below:

South Dakota

  • OL Alex Jensen
  • LB Brock Mogensen
  • LS Dalton Godfrey
  • WR/AP Carter Bell
  • DL Nick Gaes


  • DT Alex Gubner
  • OLB Patrick O'Connell
  • CB Justin Ford
  • S Robby Hauck
  • RS Malik Flowers

That's a lot of talent. More impressively, neither team's quarterbacks, Carson Camp (SD) and Lucas Johnson (MT), made those lists. With so much talent on the field, South Dakota and Montana should be exciting.

QB: Check out Week 1's FCS quarterback rankings

UC Davis at South Dakota State | 7 p.m. ET on Sept. 10

The word: Rematch

This is a rematch of the 2021 FCS playoff contest that saw the Jackrabbits defeat the Aggies 56-24. South Dakota State and UC Davis enter the matchup ranked No. 2 and No. 25 in the FCS Coaches Poll after each team opened the season with losses to FBS opponents.

RANKINGS: Check out the latest FCS rankings

Cal Poly at South Dakota | 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 17

The word: Searching

Cal Poly enters its matchup with South Dakota in search of its first Big Sky-MVFC Challenge win. The Mustangs are 0-3 in previous challenge matchups, tied for the worst record of any team without a challenge win. 

FCS-FBS: Here is every FCS vs FBS game scheduled for 2022

Montana at Indiana State | 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 17

The word: First

Indiana State will play in its first-ever Big Sky-MVFC Challenge game when it hosts Montana. Only two teams in history have won their first game in the challenge, Weber State and Montana. Speaking of firsts, Montana could be in a position to move into first for most wins in challenge history if it beats South Dakota in Week 2 and South Dakota loses its game to Cal Poly.

BIG NAMES: 44 players to know for 44 years of FCS football history

North Dakota at Northern Arizona | 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 17

The word: Three

North Dakota and Northern Arizona enter their Big Sky-MVFC matchup with a chance to win their third challenge game. North Dakota will be attempting to win its second game as a member of the MVFC; the Fighting Hawks are the only team to have won a challenge game as a member in both conferences. Northern Arizona has a chance to win its third game to move one step closer to a .500 record in the challenge (currently 2-4).

UPSETS: See every FCS-over-FBS upset

Sacramento State at Northern Iowa | 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 17

The word: Streak

Sacramento State enters its matchup against Northern Iowa on a nine-game regular season win streak, the longest in school history. The Hornets will be ranked as a top-10 team entering the matchup and will face a UNI program that's frequently in the FCS playoff conversation at season's end. The Hornets will have to beat the Panthers at home to keep the streak alive.

AWARDS: Walter Payton Award history Buck Buchanan Award history |  Jerry Rice Award history 

Big Sky-MVFC Challenge History

Challenge History

The MVFC has never lost a challenge's season's series. leading the Big Sky in the challenge with an all-time record of 20-12. Below is a year by year history.

Year MVFC Wins Big Sky Wins
2017 5 3
2018 5 3
2019 6 4
2021 4 2

Year-by-Year breakdown


  • North Dakota State 40, Eastern Washington 13 | Winner: MVFC
  • Northern Iowa 45, Cal Poly 38 | Winner: MVFC
  • South Dakota State 31, Montana State 27 | Winner: MVFC
  • Western Illinois 38, Northern Arizona 20 | Winner: MVFC
  • North Dakota 34, Missouri State 0 | Winner: Big Sky
  • South Dakota 45, North Dakota 7 | Winner: MVFC
  • Southern Utah 24, Northern Iowa 21 | Winner: Big Sky
  • Northern Arizona 37, Illinois State 16 | Winner: Big Sky


  • Montana State 26, Western Illinois 23 | Winner: Big Sky
  • North Dakota State 49, Cal Poly 3 | Winner: MVFC
  • Montana 26, Northern Iowa 23 | Winner: Big Sky
  • South Dakota 43, Northern Colorado 28 | Winner: MVFC
  • South Dakota State 45, Montana State 14 | Winner: MVFC
  • Missouri State 40, Northern Arizona 8 | Winner: MVFC
  • Weber State 27, South Dakota 10 | Winner: Big Sky
  • Western Illinois 31, Montana 27 | Winner: MVFC


  • Northern Arizona 37, Missouri State 23 | Winner: Big Sky
  • Montana 31, South Dakota 17 | Winner: Big Sky
  • Northern Iowa 34, Southern Utah 14 | Winner: MVFC
  • Montana State 23, Western Illinois 14 | Winner: Big Sky
  • Northern Iowa 13, Idaho State 6 | Winner: MVFC
  • Illinois State 40, Northern Arizona 27 | Winner: MVFC
  • South Dakota 14, Northern Colorado 6 | Winner: MVFC
  • North Dakota State 27, UC Davis 16 | Winner: MVFC
  • South Dakota State 43, Southern Utah 7 | Winner: MVFC
  • Weber State 29, Northern Iowa 17 | Winner: Big Sky


  • North Dakota 35, Idaho State 14 | Winner: MVFC
  • South Dakota 34, Northern Arizona 7 | Winner: MVFC
  • Montana 42, Western Illinois 7 | Winner: Big Sky
  • Northern Iowa 34, Sacramento State 16 | Winner: MVFC
  • Eastern Washington 62, Western Illinois 56 | Winner: Big Sky
  • South Dakota 48, Cal Poly 14 | Winner: MVFC

MUST-WATCH: The top 12 non-conference games in the 2022 FCS season

School Records

South Dakota has the most wins in the Big Sky-MVFC Challenge with five wins. Here's a breakdown of school records.

Wins School
5 South Dakota
4 Northern Iowa
3 Montana, North Dakota State, South Dakota State
2 Montana State, Northern Arizona, North Dakota, Weber State, Western Illinois
1 Eastern Washington, Illinois State, Missouri State, Southern Utah

Undefeated teams: North Dakota State (3-0), South Dakota State (3-0), Weber State (2-0)

Losses School
4 Northern Arizona, Western Illinois
3 Cal Poly, Idaho State, Northern Iowa, Southern Utah
2 Missouri State, Montana State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota
1 Eastern Washington, Illinois State, Montana, North Dakota, Sacramento State, UC Davis

Winless teams: Cal Poly (0-3), Idaho State (0-3), Missouri State (0-2), Northern Colorado (0-2), Sacramento State (0-1), UC Davis (0-1)

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