Big Sky Conference co-leader and No. 3-ranked Eastern Washington University (8-2 overall, 6-1 in the Big Sky) can earn a share of the league title with a win over Idaho State (1-9, 0-7) at Roos Field Saturday afternoon.
And the Eagles could win the title outright, provided they take care of business against the Bengals, and No. 11 Montana (7-3, 5-2) knocks off archrival and eighth-ranked Montana State (8-2, 6-1) – the team currently tied for first with EWU – in Missoula this afternoon.
Should Eastern and MSU both win, the Bobcats would get the Big Sky’s automatic berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs by virtue of their 30-7 win over the Eagles in Bozeman. If MSU and EWU both lose, creating a three-way tie for the title, the Bobcats would also get the automatic berth by the league’s tie-breaking formula.
In the event of a three-way tie that can’t be decided by head-to-head results, the next consideration is each team’s record against other league teams in descending order in the conference standings. In the three-way tie scenario mentioned above, Montana would be the first team eliminated because of its loss to Weber State, at which point the tie-breaking procedure reverts back to head-to-head results among the two remaining teams.
There is a good chance, however, that Eastern could capture one of the top five seeds into the playoffs with a win over Idaho State and earn not only a first-round bye but a second-round home game, as well.
The latest 20-team FCS playoff bracket projection put out by The Sports Network has the Eagles seeded No. 4 and hosting a second-round game against the winner of the Stony Brook-North Dakota State first-round matchup. TSN warns, however, that those projections – which included both Montana and Montana State as unseeded teams in the field – are “fluid.”
Regular-season champions from 10 conferences will earn automatic playoff berths, while 10 other teams will get at-large invitations. The final parings will be announced Sunday morning at 7 on ESPNU.