At least the Eastern Washington players can sleep a bit easier tonight.
After coming from behind in the final minute to beat the Vikings 42-41, the Eagles assured themselves of a high seed when the FCS playoff brackets are announced this morning.
At 10-2 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference, third-ranked Eastern figures to be among the top four seeded teams in the 24-team playoff that begins next weekend.
The Eagles have earned a bye in the first round and almost certainly will host a second-round game on the weekend of Dec. 6-7, and, if they win that, a quarterfinal game on the weekend of Dec. 13-14.
Although the NCAA seeds don’t necessarily correspond to the rankings, the Eagles are currently ranked behind No. 1 North Dakota State and No. 2 Eastern Illinois. If the teams were seeded according to the rankings and if form held through the playoffs, EWU would visit Eastern Illinois in the semifinals.
A record-breaking day
Former Marshall and NFL great Randy Moss can take a back seat to Eastern freshman Cooper Kupp, who now is alone at the top of the record book with touchdown catches in 12 consecutive games.
Kupp had been tied with Moss who had 11 straight in 1996, and Ramses Barden, who did the same for Cal Poly in 2008. But Kupp caught an 18-yard scoring pass from Vernon Adams with 9:16 to play against the Vikings, then added the game-winner with 31 seconds left.
After a 481-yard effort against PSU, Eastern QB Adams now has 4,550 to break the school record of 4,224 set by Erik Meyer in 2005. Adams’ mark ranks third in Big Sky history and 15th in FCS.
Adams also had five TD passes to reach 46 for the season, breaking the Big Sky record of 42 held by Brian Ah Yat of Montana in 1996. Adams’ total is fourth all-time in FCS, although Jimmy Garollolo of Eastern Illinois leads the nation with 48. The record is 56, shared by Willie Totten of Mississippi Valley State in 1984 and Bruce Eugene of Grambling in 2005.
Portland State came into the game having missed 9 of 11 field-goal attempts – easily the worst in the Big Sky – and added to its misery with two more missed field goals by Marcus Kinsella. Worse for the Vikings, Kinsella missed a crucial extra point after PSU scored the go-ahead touchdown with exactly one minute to play. After Eastern tied the game at 41, it was Kevin Miller’s turn to wait out a timeout and kick the game-winner with 31 seconds to play. No problem.