Big Sky Conference co-leader and No. 3-ranked Eastern Washington University (8-2, 6-1 Big Sky) can earn a share of the regular-season conference title with a win over Idaho State (1-9, 0-7) at Roos Field this afternoon.
The Eagles could win the title outright for the first time since 1997, 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 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 conference’s tiebreaking 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 conference 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 tiebreaking procedure reverts back to head-to-head results among the two remaining teams.
There is a good chance 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.
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 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.