Griz Earn 8th Seed FCS Playoff & First Round Bye & Host Role

The University of Montana Grizzlies were seeded eighth in the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championships, which means they  have earned a first-round bye in this year’s playoffs and host a second-round home game on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The total field of 24 teams and pairings competing for the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship was announced this morning (Sunday, Nov. 24).  The top eight national seeds will host winners from the first round match-ups.  The field consists of 11 automatic qualifiers and 13 at-large qualifiers.

“I felt really good when I walked in the door today,” said UM head coach Mick Delaney.  “Then you start looking at the TV and you see teams that were ranked behind us get into (seeding spots) – really (No. 10-ranked) Maine loses yesterday (and is seeded fifth). You get into that six and seven (seedings), then I’m thinking, ‘Oh man, what’s going to happen?’  Then when we come up at eight –  that’s all that matters. We get the bye. We get the home game. At some point you play them all anyway, one way or another. But that bye for us was really important at this time, both physically and mentally. We need a break.

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Senior Linebacker, Jordan Trip. Photo by AustinSmith.

“The tribute goes to the coaches and players,” Delaney said. “They’ve just hung in there and have taken that old sports cliché so-to-speak – – sticking together, being family, caring about each other, and taking care of each other off and on the field.  It’s just a great accomplishment by a group of young guys that set some goals in January when we came back for our winter program and have continued to expand upon everything.”

The 5th-ranked Grizzlies finished their regular-season with a 10-2 record, and are coming off a 28-14 victory over the 13th-ranked Montana State Bobcats in the 113th annual Griz-Cat rivalry game, played this past Saturday at MSU.

The Grizzlies, who earned an at-large bid, will play the winner of the Bethune Cookman (10-2) at Coastal Carolina (10-2) game, which will be played next Saturday, Nov. 30, at 11:00 a.m. (Mountain) in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  and air on ESPN3.  Coastal Carolina was the automatic qualifier from the Big South Conference, while Bethune-Cookman was the automatic qualifier from the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference.

Montana’s second round game on Saturday, Dec. 7, will also be televised on ESPN3, with kick-off slated for noon (Mountain) in UM’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Griz Win over the Cats

Griz Celebrate a win over the Cats. Photo by AustinSmith.

Montana will be one of four Big Sky teams in the playoffs this season.  Eastern Washington is the number three seed and earned the league’s automatic berth.  Also earning at-large bids along with the Griz were Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.  The Big Sky led all conferences with four teams in the 2013 playoffs.

Two-time defending national champion North Dakota State University (11-0) tops the bracket as the number one seed after capturing the automatic qualifying berth from the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The second-seed is Eastern Illinois University (11-1) which captured the Ohio Valley Conference’s automatic berth.   The Eagles (10-2) are the number-three seed, while Southeastern Louisiana University (10-2) is the number-four seed after receiving the Southland Conference’s automatic berth.

The number-five seed is the University of Maine (10-2); McNeese State University (10-2) is the number six seed; Towson University (10-2) is the seventh seed; followed by the eighth-seeded Griz.

“I know one thing, we’re getting better every play on defense,” Delaney said, talking about UM’s recent win at MSU. “And offensively we’re able to keep our strengths going. People are going to do different things to slow you down on offense like we do them, but I still think we have a ton of firepower. The coaches did a great job of figuring a few things out on offense we wanted to come back with. We really didn’t change anything. We just kind of changed how we were going to go about it a little bit. Then of course you put Jordy (QB Jordan Johnson) in charge and he made some great plays at the end of the first half and in the second half, converting some third downs both with his legs and his arm. I think we are getting better. The special teams we’ve got to shore up. That’s very unacceptable to have a punt blocked and a field goal (blocked) and to have a run-back (on a punt) for a touchdown. Our guys will take accountability for that. We’ll get that fixed.

“I know our team appreciates the community to no end,” Delaney said.  “I’m 100 percent convinced our guys know it’s a privilege to play for the Silver and Maroon. They take that to heart.”

FIRST-ROUND GAMES

November 30 at Orangeburg, South Carolina, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Furman (7-5) at South Carolina State (9-3).

November 30 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Bethune-Cookman (10-2) at Coastal Carolina (10-2).

November 30 at Durham, New Hampshire, Noon (ET) (ESPN3): Lafayette (5-6) at New Hampshire (7-4)

November 30 at Huntsville, Texas, 3 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Southern Utah (8-4) at Sam Houston State (8-4).

November 30 at Flagstaff, Arizona, 8 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): South Dakota State (8-4) at Northern Arizona (9-2).

November 30 at Jacksonville, Alabama, 8 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Samford (8-4) at Jacksonville State (9-3).

November 30 at Bronx, New York, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Sacred Heart (10-2) at Fordham (11-1).

November 30 at Indianapolis, Indiana, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Tennessee State (9-3) at Butler (9-3).

SECOND-ROUND GAMES

December 7 at Fargo, North Dakota, 3:30 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Furman/South Carolina State winner at #1 North Dakota State (11-0).

December 7 at Missoula, Montana, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Bethune-Cookman/Coastal Carolina winner at #8 Montana (10-2).

December 7 at Orono, Maine, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Lafayette/New Hampshire winner at Maine (10-2).

December 7 at Hammond, Louisiana, 8 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Southern Utah/Sam Houston State winner at Southeastern Louisiana (10-2).

December 7 at Cheney, Washington, 4 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): South Dakota State/Northern Arizona winner at Eastern Washington (10-2).

December 7 at Lake Charles, Louisiana, 7 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Samford/Jacksonville State winner at McNeese State (10-2).

December 7 at Towson, Maryland, 1 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Sacred Heart/Fordham winner at Towson (10-2).

December 7 at Charleston, Illinois, 2 p.m. (ET) (ESPN3): Tennessee State/Butler winner at Eastern Illinois (11-1).

Automatic Qualifiers (11)

Big Sky Conference – Eastern Washington (10-2).

Big South Conference – Coastal Carolina (10-2).

Colonial Athletic Association – Maine (10-2).

Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference – Bethune-Cookman (10-2).

Missouri Valley Football Conference – North Dakota State (11-0).

Northeast Conference – Sacred Heart (10-2). 

Ohio Valley Conference – Eastern Illinois (11-1).

Patriot League – Lafayette (5-6).

Pioneer Football League – Butler (9-3). 

Southern Conference – Furman (7-5).

Southland Conference – Southeastern Louisiana (10-2).

At-Large (13)

Big Sky Conference – Montana (10-2),  Northern Arizona (9-2), and Southern Utah (8-4).

Colonial Athletic Association – New Hampshire (7-4), Towson (10-2).

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – South Carolina State (9-3).

Missouri Valley Football Conference – South Dakota State (8-4).

Ohio Valley Conference – Jacksonville State (9-3) and Tennessee State (9-3).

Patriot League Fordham (11-1).

Southern Conference – Samford (8-4)

Southland Conference  McNeese State (10-2) and Sam Houston State (8-4).