They have been two of the strongest conferences in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) for decades, and now the Missouri Valley Conference and Big Sky Conference are looking for bragging rights during the regular season.

2017 will mark the beginning of the Big Sky/Missouri Valley Challenge Series with eight head-to-head match-ups.

Since being founded in 1985, the MVFC has an all-time edge of 50-33 in games played against the Big Sky, including 30 playoff meetings.

The two are among only three leagues to have two or more playoff teams every year since 1999. In each of the past three seasons, the MVFC and Big Sky combined to produce eight of the 24 teams in the FCS playoff field.

Since the 2001 season, the two conferences have combined to win seven National Championships.

In 2016, three of the four semifinal spots were occupied by teams from the Missouri Valley and Big Sky (North Dakota State, Youngstown State, Eastern Washington).

In 2017, South Dakota State and South Dakota will each play a game in the series' inaugural season.

The Jackrabbits (#4 pre-season) will play at Montana State, September 9.

The next week, September 16, the Coyotes will host North Dakota (#8 pre-season).

Other 2017 Big Sky/Missouri Valley Challenge Games:

September 9

  • #2 North Dakota State at #5 Eastern Washington
  • #23 Cal Poly at #18 Northern Iowa
  • #25 Western Illinois at Northern Arizona
  • Missouri State at #8 North Dakota

September 16

  • #18 Northern Iowa at Southern Utah

October 7

  • #20 Illinois State at Northern Arizona

Last season the Big Sky won the regular season match-up with the Missouri Valley, 4-3.

The Valley did capture the only head-to-head meeting in the playoffs, when Youngstown State beat Eastern Washington in the semifinals.

One interesting note: Starting next season, North Dakota will experience this series from the other side when the Fighting Hawks leave the Big Sky to become members of the Missouri Valley.

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