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Published on November 9th, 2017 | by Hot Take Nate

Here’s how the Bobcats can make the playoffs

In 2012 the Big Sky Conference introduced four new schools to the, at the time, nine team conference. With the addition of North Dakota, Cal Poly, Southern Utah, and UC Davis, the Big Sky’s conference season went to hell. In the good ol’ days of eight and nine teams, everyone played everyone and it was known, without a doubt, who the best team in the Big Sky was and who was getting the auto-bid into the FCS Playoffs. In the current Big Sky, you could go 2 years without playing another member of the conference (MSU hasn’t played Cal Poly since 2015) and its a conference design that leaves a lot to question regarding who is really the best team when you look at strength of conference schedule. In two words: It sucks.

Due to the way the conference schedule is set up, determining the tie breaker for the Big Sky’s autobid into the FCS Playoffs can get a little crazy. If two teams tie, their head to head match up if they played that year determines the auto-bid (Note: No matter how many teams tie for the best record, all can call themselves Big Sky Conference Champs – even if they don’t make the playoffs). If the two teams did not play each other during the season, common opponents are used and the team with the best record versus common opponents gets the auto bid.

If three or more teams tie, the conference looks at the tied teams’ records against each other even if all the teams hadn’t played each other during the season. The team with the best record head to head only between the tied teams gets the autobid. It’s so odd.

Montana State’s playoff chances took a major hit last week with the loss to Kennesaw State but I’m here to tell you that they still have a chance! How, you ask? Here’s the scenario:

  • The Bobcats have to take care of business and win out versus Northern Arizona and Montana
  • Weber State has to lose their last two games against Portland State and Idaho State
  • Eastern Washington has to lose one of their last two games – either North Dakota or Portland State
  • Northern Arizona has to beat Southern Utah the last week of the season

This scenario would leave MSU, Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona tied with 6-2 conference records. MSU would have the best record head to head against the tied teams at 1-0 with their win over NAU and would get the auto bid into the FCS Playoffs! (SUU’s tiebreak record would be 0-1 and NAU’s would be 1-1)

Maybe we should start booking our trip to Frisco now, Cat fans, I have a good feeling about this.

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About the Author

Hot Take Nate

Hot Take Nate now resides in Northern California but still calls Montana his home. It'll always be home.

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