For the third time in four years, the NAIA Football Championship Series will return to Raider Stadium Saturday.
Fifth-ranked Southern Oregon (10-0) will host the No. 13 Dickinson State (N.D.) Blue Hawks (9-1), the North Star Athletic Association champions, in a first-round contest. The 16-team playoff field and final NAIA Top 25 poll were announced Sunday by the national office.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Current season-ticket holders who purchased their tickets online will have the first chance to reclaim their seats starting at 9 a.m. Monday. All tickets will then go on sale at noon. Fans are encouraged to purchase them online at souraiders.com/tickets, but they'll also be available at the Ivy Hall Athletic Office from Tuesday through Friday during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
On Saturday, the Raider Stadium ticket booth opens at 10 a.m. and the gates will open at 11 a.m.
The Raiders are 6-0 all-time in the first round. In their three appearances since joining the Frontier in 2012, they've won each of their opening games by at least 17 points.
The playoff is not bracketed; new pairings, informed by rankings and geography, will be set by the NAIA after each round. The quarterfinals will be held Nov. 25 and the semifinals on Dec. 2, both at campus sites. The Dec. 16 national title game will be played again at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Dickinson was a member of the Frontier in 2012 and '13, going a combined 1-19 in those seasons with a pair of lopsided losses against SOU. The Blue Hawks then joined the North Star and have since gone 24-2 in conference games. They've dropped six first-round games in a row, losing the last two years at Montana Tech, and are seeking their first postseason win since 2004.
This year, their only loss was at 10th-ranked Northwestern (Iowa), 37-3 on Sept. 9.