It’s still a long road to Frisco, but this year’s Eastern Washington football team already has bragging rights over the 2010 national champions.
The road to Frisco is guaranteed to run through Cheney, as the Big Sky champion Eagles (9-2) were awarded the No. 2 seed in the FCS playoffs. In brackets announced Sunday morning by the NCAA, Eastern will face either Colgate or Wagner in a second-round game on Dec. 1.
Quarterfinals would be played on Dec. 7-8 and the semifinals on Dec. 14-15. The national championship game is in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 5.
Two years ago, the Eagles hosted games throughout the playoffs, but only because higher-seeded teams were eliminated earlier. This season, the Eagles, if they keep winning, will host all playoff games through the semifinals.
Big Sky rivals Montana State and Cal Poly also made the field. MSU is seeded No. 3. Northern Arizona was left out of the field.
Defending national champ North Dakota State is the top seed.
North Dakota State (10-1) leads the bracket as the top seed after capturing the automatic qualifying berth from the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison, who are the defending national champions, are making their third consecutive appearance.
Montana State (10-1), which is making its seventh overall tournament appearance, is the number-three seed. The 1984 national champion, the Bobcats are making its seventh overall appearance and third in a row.
Old Dominion is the number four seed after putting together a 10-1 regular season record in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Monarchs were ineligible for the CAA automatic qualification slot as they have announced plans to leave the league for Conference USA.
Rounding out this year’s seeded teams is Georgia Southern (8-3) with the number-five seed. The Southern Conference champions are making their third consecutive and 19th appearance overall.
First-round hosts include Bethune-Cookman (9-2), which is in as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champs, South Dakota State (8-3), Stony Brook (9-2) and Wagner (8-3), the Northeast Conference champion and the only team in the field which will be making its first trip into the championship.
The top four national seeds will host winners from the first round match-ups. Others hosting second rounds game will be Appalachian State (8-3), Georgia Southern, Sam Houston State (8-3) and Wofford (8-3).
Other automatic qualifiers in the tournament include Central Arkansas (9-2), winner of the Southland Conference, Coastal Carolina (7-4), which was the Big South Conference champion, Colgate (8-3), the Patriot League representative, Eastern Illinois (7-4), the Ohio Valley Conference champions, and Villanova (8-3), the Colonial Athletic Association representative.
The other teams in the field include Illinois State (8-3) and New Hampshire (8-3).
Ten conferences received automatic-qualifying berths: the Big Sky Conference, Big South Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Missouri Valley Football Conference, Northeast Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Patriot League, Southern Conference and Southland Conference.