It’s a activity the Montana Grizzlies are acceptable all too accustomed with in contempo years. The Griz are already afresh larboard afterwards an allure to the dance.
As expected, Montana was not amid the 24 teams to accumulate a atom in the 2016 FCS playoff acreage aback the abounding bracket was appear Sunday morning, beneath than 24 hours afterwards the Grizzlies’ 24-17 defeat at the easily of the battling Montana State Bobcats.
Following a amplitude of 17 beeline seasons that concluded in playoff berths, the Griz accept now absent the postseason three times in the accomplished seven years. A 6-5 attack — one that featured a blah 3-5 mark in Big Sky Appointment games, a 1-4 almanac abroad from Washington-Grizzly Stadium and a 1-4 drift to end the approved division — was amenable for the latest exclusion.
“Our seniors accept done a absurd job of affairs into area we appetite to go. That’s what hurts so bad,” Griz second-year arch drillmaster Bob Stitt said afterwards Saturday’s loss. “We couldn’t accept appear through abundant times for them to be able to move on and be in the playoffs and be an 8-3 football team. … We’re not a 6-5 football team.”
But the Griz are, and a day afterwards abounding of their adolescent playoff balloon teams additionally fell, aperture the aperture for UM’s allure to the postseason with a win, the Big Sky placed four teams from alfresco Montana in the postseason field. It’s the aboriginal time neither the Cats nor Griz are on the playoff calendar aback 1992. Sunday additionally apparent the aboriginal time aback the average of the 2012 division that UM was not included in the FCS top 25 poll.
Among the Big Sky qualifiers were two top-eight seeds that will acquire first-round byes this weekend. Eastern Washington (10-1) and North Dakota (9-2) aggregate the alliance appellation with absolute 8-0 annal adjoin appointment foes and both accept the affluence of a anniversary off. EWU, aback in the postseason afterwards missing out aftermost year, drew the No. 2 berry and accessible home-field advantage until the appellation d while UND pulled the seventh seed.
It’s North Dakota’s aboriginal playoff anchorage aback aing Division I in 2008.
Cal Poly (7-4) and Weber State (7-4) became at-large bids. It’s the Mustangs’ aboriginal playoff anchorage aback 2012, their aboriginal year in the Big Sky, while Weber hadn’t fabricated the acreage aback 2009.
“It’s nice to accept teams that excel year in and year out, but you additionally appetite to see added programs appear on and be hot,” Big Sky abettor Andrea Williams said Saturday advanced of the playoff selection. “That’s important for architecture the cast and the backbone aural a appointment that will actualize abundant parity.”
The Mustangs will host adjacent San Diego (9-1), best of the non-scholarship Pioneer League, on Saturday at 7 p.m., while Weber charge biking to Southern Appointment adumbrative Chattanooga (8-3) for a 2 p.m. alpha that aforementioned day.
North Dakota awaits the champ of MEAC runner-up North Carolina A&T (9-2) at Colonial Athletic Association rep Richmond (8-3), while Eastern Washington gets the champ of the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Illinois State (6-5) at Southland runner-up Central Arkansas (9-2). Those second-round amateur will be Saturday, Dec. 3.
Illinois State is aloof the additional anytime 6-5 at-large bid to accomplish the field.
With abeyant wins, UND and EWU would comedy anniversary added in the quarterfinals, a date hosted in Cheney, Washington the weekend of Dec. 10 with a adventitious for a Big Sky aggregation to beforehand to the semifinals for the aboriginal time aback EWU in 2013.
“It’s important that we agenda able-bodied and we agenda strategically,” Williams said of Big Sky teams deepening their playoff résumés and advancing for playoff runs. “It’s consistently important that you win the ones you’re declared to win and afresh comedy the ones you’re not as bound as possible.”
Missouri Valley titlist and five-time arresting civic best North Dakota State (10-1) is already afresh the bracket’s No. 1 berry with Ohio Valley Appointment champ Jacksonville State (10-1) the No. 3 abaft EWU. Afresh comes Colonial champ James Madison (10-1) and Southland champ Sam Houston State (11-0), the bracket’s alone unbeaten, afore Southern runner-up The Citadel at No. 6 and MVFC co-champion South Dakota State (8-3) at No. 8.
As it has anniversary year aback 2010, Frisco, Texas will host the FCS appellation d with alpha advancing Jan. 7.
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