Pittsburgh -- The Robert Morris University football team, which earned a share of the 2010 Northeast Conference regular-season championship and the league's inaugural bid to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, will open play in the 20-team tournament Saturday, Nov. 27, against No. 25 North Dakota State at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The Colonials learned of their opponent during Sunday morning's NCAA FCS Selection Show on ESPNU. RMU's tilt with the Bison is one of four preliminary round games of the NCAA FCS playoffs. In other preliminary round action, Coastal Carolina will host No. 21 Western Illinois, No. 19 Lehigh will visit No. 16 Northern Iowa and No. 12 South Carolina State will play at No. 20 Georgia Southern. All four first round games will be broadcast live on NCAA.com.
RMU, which owns an overall record of 8-2, including a mark of 7-1 in the NEC, was crowned co-champions of the NEC with Central Connecticut State but earned the league's inaugural bid thanks to a 42-24 victory over the Blue Devils at Joe Walton Stadium Nov. 6, 2010.
"Today is an exciting day in the history of our program as well as for the Northeast Conference," head coach Joe Walton said. "Traveling to North Dakota State for the first round of the playoffs presents a new challenge and will be a new experience, but our guys have stepped up to every challenge this year, and we'll be ready to play. We want to represent the NEC the best we can."
Robert Morris is led by senior running back Myles Russ (Boca Raton, Fla. / West Boca) and sophomore quarterback Jeff Sinclair (Natrona Heights, Pa. / Highlands).
The 5'8", 170-pound Russ has rushed for 1,246 yards so far this season, an average of 124.6 yards per game that ranks second in the NEC and sixth in the FCS. RMU's all-time leading rusher with 4,154 career rushing yards, Russ is the first player in school history to post three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He enters the NCAA FCS playoffs ranked second all-time at Robert Morris for career 100-yard rushing games (17) and fourth in career rushing touchdowns (19).
Sinclair, who owns a record of 13-4 (.765) as RMU's starting quarterback, has completed 51.1 percent (119-for-233) of his passes this season for 1,774 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Sinclair, 6'3" and 190 pounds, tied the Robert Morris single-season school record for touchdowns passes thanks to two in RMU's regular-season finale at Bryant (11/6) and is tied with former quarterback Tim Levcik (1998-2001), who tossed 22 during the 2001 campaign.
Defensively the Colonials are led by senior linebacker Alex DiMichele (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Sto-Rox), who has posted 98 tackles, including 42 solo stops. One of three players in school history to eclipse 300 career tackles, DiMichele enters the NCAA FCS playoffs with 323 career stops, which ranks second all-time.
Robert Morris is making its third postseason appearance in 17 years as a Division I program by earning the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs from the NEC. In 1996, the Colonials posted a 28-26 win over Duquesne in the ECAC Bowl, and followed that a year later with a 35-13 victory over Georgetown in the 1997 ECAC Bowl.
Led by Walton, the only head coach in the history of the program, the Colonials have claimed a league-high six NEC championships since the league began sponsoring football in 1996. In school history, RMU has posted an overall record of 104-69-1 (.601).