MISSOULA — Montana and Montana State football fans will have more opportunities to watch their teams play at home this season. Both Montana and Montana State received top-eight seeds in the FCS playoff bracket, which was revealed during the FCS selection show on Sunday.
Montana will play in the friendly confines of Washington-Grizzly Stadium through the semifinal round. The Griz are the No. 2 seed, behind No. 1 South Dakota State, and get a first-round bye. They will host Lafayette (9-2) or Delaware (8-3) in a second-round game on Dec. 2.
Montana (10-1) won the outright Big Sky Conference championship and the league's automatic bid for the playoffs with its 37-7 win over Montana State on Saturday. The Griz have won seven consecutive games and have looked the part of a national championship contender over the back half of the season, marking dominant wins over playoff teams Idaho, Montana State and Sacramento State.
This is Montana's fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs. Last year, the Griz defeated Southeast Missouri State in a first-round game before bowing out of the playoffs with a loss at North Dakota State in the second round.
The Bobcats (8-3), meanwhile, are the No. 6 seed, placing them on the same side of the bracket as Montana and setting up a potential Brawl of the Wild rematch in the semifinal round. Montana State gets a first-round bye and will host Drake (8-3) or North Dakota State (8-3) in the second round on Dec. 2.
Montana State has now made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, reaching at least the semifinal round each of the past three years. For much of this season, the Bobcats were considered one of the main challengers to reigning national champion South Dakota State as they won six of their first seven games, the lone loss in that stretch coming to the Jackrabbits. But the Bobcats lost at Idaho and Montana in the past four weeks, dropping them a few seed lines in the playoff bracket.
The Big Sky Conference is also represented by Idaho (8-3) among the seeded teams. The Vandals are the No. 4 seed and, after a first-round bye, will host Nicholls State (6-4) or Southern Illinois (7-4) in the second round on Dec. 2.
Sacramento State (7-4) also reached the playoffs out of the Big Sky and will play North Dakota (7-4) in a first-round game on Nov. 25.
South Dakota State (11-0), which is currently riding a 25-game winning streak, is the No. 1 seed and will have home-field advantage through the semifinal round. The rest of the seeded teams are No. 3 South Dakota (9-2), No. 5 Albany (9-3), No. 7 Furman (9-2) and No. 8 Villanova (9-2).
The FCS national championship is Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 at noon (MT).