EWU Earns #3 Seed in FCS Playoffs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

EWU Earns #3 Seed in FCS Playoffs

Posted: Updated:

By EWU Athletics

Perhaps the best part of EWU's thrilling come-from-behind victory over Portland State was the rest that awaits them.

The Eagles, who capped a perfect 8-0 Big Sky Conference season with a 42-41 win over the Vikings on Saturday (Nov. 22), received a first-round bye and will host a game on Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. Pacific time at Roos Field in the second round of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

Pairings were announced Sunday morning, and the Eagles will face the winner of the South Dakota State at Northern Arizona game at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 30. The Jackrabbits are 8-4 on the season while the Lumberjacks are 9-2 after finishing second behind the Eagles in the Big Sky standings.

Eastern received the No. 3 seed, putting it in the same bracket as No. 2 Eastern Illinois. Seeds 1-8 are guaranteed home games through to the semifinals provided they are the higher-seeded team in their match-up. Montana received the No. 8 seed and is in the opposite side the bracket with top-seeded and two-time defending champion North Dakota State. Southern Utah also made the bracket from the Big Sky, while Montana State was left off after losing its last three games of the season.

Tickets for Eastern's Dec. 7 game go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday (Nov. 25). The championship game is Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas. All games in the first two rounds will be broadcast via ESPN3.

"We had a good idea – a No. 3 seed is what everybody was saying and it's what we kind of expected," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "It's perfect. We know we are going to get that first one at home, and we'll have to go out and earn a victory. It's exciting for our team, and exciting to have that first-round bye. From a physical and mental standpoint, it's a long road to get to this point."

Eastern has had seven playoff berths in a nine-year span (2004-13), ranking the Eagles as one of only four schools among 122 in FCS to accomplish that feat. The others are Montana, New Hampshire and Appalachian State. New Hampshire, North Dakota State and Appalachian State join the Eagles as the only teams to have qualified in four of the last five years.

Best of all, the Eagles get a first-round bye and are hosting games, just like they did last season when they advanced to the semifinals and in 2010 when the Eagles won the NCAA Division I title. Getting players healthy is the greatest benefit of having Thankgsiving weekend off.

"We could feel it after the game, and even in the last few weeks," said Baldwin. "But you have to keep grinding and keep going. We knew if we were fortunate enough to receive the bye over Thanksgiving it would come a good time for us. We need to let some guys to heal physically, but also mentally to allow our players to rest and regroup. We'll get some work in before they go for Thanksgiving, then we'll hit it hard next week when we know exactly who we play."

Eastern has never played SDSU, but is 19-10 overall against NAU. Because of the expansion of the league in 2012, the Eagles haven't played NAU since 2011 when EWU won in Flagstaff, Ariz., 38-26.

Interestingly, Eastern's last-gasp win over PSU – EWU drove 74 yards in just 29 seconds for a game-winning TD with 31 seconds to play, denied NAU a share of the league title with Eastern. The Lumberjacks finished 7-1 in the Big Sky this year.

"We thought there was a chance us and NAU could meet up somewhere quickly," said Baldwin. "It's a credit to all the Big Sky schools who were included – NAU, Montana and Southern Utah – for representing the league really well. It's fun having four teams in this bracket."

  • College

    • Cats add Bob Cole as passing game coordinator

      Veteran assistant coach Bob Cole, with deep roots in the Big Sky Conference and Rocky Mountain west, has joined the Montana State football staff, Jeff Choate announced Wednesday.

    • Former Eagles Punter Jordan Dascalo to participate in NFLPA Bowl

      Dascalo is the 15th Eagle to be selected to play in an all-star game in the past 15 seasons (2003-17), including seven previous participants in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

    • Grizzly Sports Report 1-15-18

      The Griz and Lady Griz go 4-0 over the weekend sweeping Sacramento State and Portland State and now BOTH teams are in first place in the Big Sky Conference. Big Sky player of the week Michael Oguine and Madi Schoening join host Shaun Rainey to talk about the successful weekend. With Griz Head Coach Travis DeCuire out on the recruiting trail Assistant Rachi Wortham takes his place. 
    • Super 8 Plays of the Week 1/15

      Check out this week's top plays!

    • From manager to player: Gonzaga's Pete living out new kind of Cinderella story

      Brian Pete’s college basketball career didn’t begin with a host of recruitment letters or scholarship offers, it began with a brief conversation over postgame pizza. In just a few days, Pete went from washing jerseys to wearing one. Now, a team that became famous two decades ago for dancing in Cinderella’s slipper is now celebrating a different kind of rags to riches tale.

    • No. 15 Gonzaga holds off San Francisco 75-65

      Gonzaga had four players finish the game with double figures, led by Johnathan Williams with 17 points (Perkins 16 pts, Melson 14 pts, Hachimura 10 pts).

    • Whitworth falls to George Fox 86-78

      Kaitlin Jamieson's 21 points and 14 rebounds led the George Fox Bruins past the Whitworth Pirates 86-78 on Saturday evening. 

    • Robert Franks' record performance leads WSU past Cal, 78-53

      Robert Franks set a new Washington State single-game record after he made ten 3-pointers and helped the Cougars to a 78-53 win over Cal on Saturday.

    • Gonzaga beats USF in dominant fashion 74-47

      Jessie Loera led the Zags with a career-high 15 points on six-of-eight shooting, and added a career-high nine assists to lead GU as well..

    • WSU and college football legend Keith Jackson dies at 89

      Jackson has been widely regarded as "the voice of college football" after spending 52 years as a broadcaster - 40 of those years at ABC Sports.