After a week off, the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats are now set to begin their playoff runs.
On Saturday, the Griz and Bobcats learned who their opponents would be in the second round of the FCS playoffs next week. For the Grizzlies, it will be a rematch as Montana will welcome Eastern Washington to Missoula next Friday, Dec. 3. The Eagles topped Northern Iowa, 19-9, on Saturday in the opening round of the FCS playoffs to improve to 10-2 on the season.
Montana State will welcome UT Martin to Bozeman next Saturday after the Skyhawks defeated Missouri State, 32-31, on Saturday.
Both the Griz (9-2, 6-2 Big Sky Conference) and Bobcats (9-2, 7-1) earned top-8 seeds in the FCS playoffs this year, with Montana at No. 6 and MSU at No. 8, giving both schools a bye week and a home game in the second round of the playoffs.
Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP Eric Barriere completed 20 of 34 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown on Saturday for the Eagles. Barriere also threw one interception and ran for a score as EWU's defense bent but didn't break in one of their better performances of the season. The Eagles allowed 423 total yards on offense but UNI converted just 2 of 15 third-down attempts on the day and was also 2 for 5 on fourth-down conversions. In three red zone chances, EWU allowed just one score from UNI and grabbed three interceptions on the day.
The first time UM and EWU met was Oct. 2 in Cheney, Washington, where the Eagles beat the Grizzlies 34-28. Montana had a chance on the final play of the game but the last-second heave was contested and dropped in the end zone to seal the win for EWU.
UM's game against EWU will be under the lights with a 7 p.m. kickoff time scheduled for Friday at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The Bobcats will welcome UT Martin to Bozeman on Saturday, Dec. 4 with a kickoff time scheduled for 2 p.m.
The Skyhawks (10-2) earned their first postseason win in program history with the road victory over Missouri State, which is coached by Montana native Bobby Petrino. UT Martin scored the game-winning touchdown with 3:36 left in the game and defensively halted Missouri State twice down the stretch to hang on for the win. The Skyhawks also forced six turnovers on the day.
Five Big Sky Conference teams made the FCS playoffs but only four remain after Saturday. UC Davis fell to South Dakota State, 56-24, in the opening round. EWU advanced, meanwhile UM, MSU and Big Sky regular-season champion Sacramento State, the No. 4 seed, all had byes in the opening round.