Could an FCS Team Like NDSU Become A Ranked Team in the FBS? (Explained!)

Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Jim Kein Kein

It’s possible. But it would depend on the schedule and strength of the team. If they played a lot of FCS schools, then they won’t get a good ranking. If they played FBS schools, (and they are capable of defeating a handful) then that would boost their overall ranking. If they play any of their major programs at any of the Power 5 schools, and win, their ranking would even be higher.

But the FCS and FBS are very different as FBS has much more top tier players and the FBS schools can offer more scholarships, FCS schools are limited to 63 scholarships while FBS have about 82. But lately, we’ve all seen FCS schools either defeat FBS schools or play them to a very close draw. There are no longer patsy games on a many occasions.

North Dakota State Bison football

North Dakota State Bison football

The North Dakota State Bison football represents North Dakota State University in football at Division I Football Championship Subdivision level the NCAA and competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison play in the 19,000 seat capacity stadium in Fargodome located in Fargo. The Bison have won 17 and 37 national championships and conference championships. They have won nine Division I FCS National Championships at NCAA within 2011 and 2021. The North Dakota hold the record for most overall NCAA national championships and the record for the most consecutive championship with five titles between 2011 to 2015.

How Good Are The NDSU? 

Since 2011, the North Dakota State Bison have a record of over 149–12 (.925) which included a record of 22-game playoff win streak, making them the most successful college football program in Division I FCS for this year. The Bison are 202–39 since they moved to Division I in 2004. Since 1964, the Bison have had only three losing seasons and an overall record of 551–136–4 (.800) through that 58-year span, one of the best in college football. Among FCS programs, North Dakota State has more all-time match wins than any non-Ivy League program, over 750. Of all teams established after 1894, only Oklahoma has won a higher percentage of its games than the NDSU. The team also holds the record for the longest winning streak in the Football Championship Subdivision, which stands at 39 consecutive wins spanning from 2017 to 2021. Collectively, the Bison have won 37 and 17 conference championships and national championships. They were selected as NCAA College Division II champions by polls three times (1965, 1968, 1969), won the NCAA Division II National Football Championships for five times and they have won the NCAA Division I Football Championship nine times in a roll for eleven seasons.

The NCAA Division I Football Championship is an annual post-season college football game played since 2006, used to determine the national champion of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The game serves as the final match of an annual post-season tournament between top teams in FCS. Since 2013, 24 teams has participate in the tournament, with some teams receiving automatic bids upon winning their conference championship match, and other teams determined by a set of selection committee. The reigning national champions are the North Dakota State Bison, who won the championship for the 2021 season (their 9th overall). The FCS is the highest division in college football to hold a playoff tournament sanctioned by NCAA to determine its championship, as the four-team College Football Playoff currently used by the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has an FCS football team ever beat an FBS team?

It was then the first time an FCS team beat a ranked FBS team since North Dakota State beat No. 13 Iowa 23-21 in 2016. — Holy Cross, which does not offer football scholarships, never trailed in the second half and beat Connecticut 38-28, but its first victory against an FBS team since it topped Army in 2002.

Can the NDSU move to FBS?

To be clear, while the Bison are obviously more than ready to play at the FBS’ level from a competitive view, there’s no indication a move is imminent, as NDSU faces different challenges in making the move due to geography. Namely, there isn’t a conference that’s a particularly good condition.

Is the FCS football good?

Yes. Don’t get carried out with FCS football being a level lower than Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson. FCS is still Division I, and the coaches and players are among the best at what they do. In some ways, FCS is more enjoyable to watch than the FBS, and the top teams in FCS are better than many of the teams in the higher division level.

Do players from FCS  go to the NFL?

Where you are drafted in the NFL, the Draft isn’t the end-all-be-all for players’ NFL careers. The 13 FCS players have made it to the Super Bowl level. The 2021 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year was not even in first-round draft pick, nor did he compete for the mandatory Division I Power 5 college program.

What’s the difference between FBS and FCS football teams?

FBS, also known as Division I-A, conducts a sort of ‘bowl’ for their post-season games. Its games are not well organized in nature. Conversely, for FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), this division concentrates more on a sort of playoffs that will eventually end with a grand championship game finale


No team at the FCS level has been as dominant as North Dakota State over the last year or so. Their resume of FCS national titles and dominance under three different head coaches recently doesn’t need to be reviewed, but remember back in 2016 when a darn good NDSU squat beat #13 Iowa and the Bison nearly cracked the FBS top 25 list the next week with 74 votes in the AP Poll? Perhaps it’s time for NDSU test their limit at the FBS level.

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