The unprecedented spring season of college football is wrapping up around the country and that can only mean one thing, it’s time for FCS playoff football.

The Wildcats take the field in a purple haze at Stewart Stadium on April 10.
The Wildcats take the field in a purple haze at Stewart Stadium on April 10. Photo credit: Weber State Athletics

The NCAA announced that there will be a 16-team field. The field for the 2020-21 championship will consist of 10 automatic qualifiers and six at-large qualifiers.

The top four seeds in order include, South Dakota State University, Sam Houston State University, James Madison University and Jacksonville State University.

Teams are going into the playoffs with all different seasons and what got them there. There were only some programs who were able to take a part in non conference games and some schools that were able to play up to 11 games and others that only made it to three games.

Weber State closed out their regular season at 5-0 and atop the Big Sky Conference. The Wildcats secured their fourth straight conference title and this will be their fifth straight appearance in FCS Playoffs. In total, this will be the program’s eighth overall appearance.

Weber State closed out their regular season hosting Idaho State. This was the second matchup between the two schools this season.

The Wildcats beat the Bengals 20-15. WSU had 232 passing yards and 131 rushing yards, and Bronson Barron completed 15 of 24 for passes with one touchdown.

Ty MacPherson went for 108 yard on 4 catches and Dontae McMillan had 90 yards and one touchdown.

The Wildcats had been ranked in the top five of the FCS Top 25 rankings for a majority of their season and the week leading into the playoff seeding they sat at No. 3, this made them a top 10 automatic qualifier but not an overall top 4 seed program.

Weber State's football field illuminated under the lights at Stewart Stadium.
Weber State's football field illuminated under the lights at Stewart Stadium. Photo credit: Weber State Athletics

“We we’re kind of surprised, we saw some teams that we felt like we should’ve been a head of,” said Rashid Shaheed. “ We can’t dwell on that. It’s win and advance regardless.”

After being chosen as an automatic qualifier, the ‘Cats were selected to host the Southern Illinois University Salukis on April 24. SIU was a part of the six at-large programs that qualified.

This will be Southern Illinois’ first playoff appearance since 2009 and the first meeting between Weber State and Southern Illinois.

The Salukis belong to the Missouri Valley Conference and went 5-3 overall and 3-3 in conference. The team was strong at home going 4-1, but have struggled on the road at 1-2. They were handed their largest margin of defeat s by No.1 seed South Dakota State University, with 44-3 trouncing.

SIU has beaten 4 ranked teams this season.

“Having home field advantage is always fun, and having your home’s atmosphere is always an advantage,” said Shaheed. “They have to come to us and we’ll take that advantage.”

SIU’s most recent game was visiting Southeastern Louisiana University where the Salukis topped SE Louisiana 55-48 in a shootout. SIU had 384 in passing yards and 423 in rushing yards. Quarterback Stone Labanowitz was 20 of 24 passes for 328 yards and two touchdown passes.

Whoever wins between Weber State and Southern Illinois will face off against the winner of No. 1 South Dakota State and Holy Cross.

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