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Weber State gets a home game for the FCS playoffs’ first round

Weber State’s FCS playoff journey will begin at home.

The Wildcats will host North Dakota next Saturday at 2 p.m. MST in the postseason’s first round, the team learned when the 24-team bracket was unveiled Sunday.

Despite Weber State’s only losses coming against the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams at the FCS level and a dominant win over Utah State, the Wildcats did not earn a top 8 seed, which would have given them a bye in the first round.

Instead, Weber State could meet fellow Big Sky program Montana State in the second round if they win Saturday.

When Weber State coach Jay Hill was asked about the Wildcats not earning a top 8 seed, he said there were several teams with a similar argument who also weren’t seeded.

“The reality is, get in and now we’re all in the exact same boat — win and advance,” he told reporters Sunday, per a video posted on the team’s Twitter account. “You’re going to have to beat some really good teams to advance. It doesn’t really matter that much where your start. The key is where you finish.”

The Wildcats (9-2) are making their sixth playoff appearance in the past seven years after wrapping up the regular season with a thrilling win over Northern Arizona last Saturday.

Weber State went 1-2 against teams that qualified for this year’s playoffs. That included a win over Montana and losses to Sacramento State, the No. 2 overall seed, and Montana State, the No. 4 seed.

North Dakota, which competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and used to play in the Big Sky alongside Weber State, went 7-4 during the regular season and was 0-2 against teams that qualified for the playoffs. That included losses to No. 1 overall seed South Dakota State and No. 3 seed North Dakota State.

Weber State and North Dakota have one common opponent: the Wildcats beat Northern Arizona 33-31, while the Fighting Hawks beat the Lumberjacks 27-24.

Hill is confident in his program — from offense to defense to special teams — as it returns to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.

“I like the potential of this team, the key is peaking at the right time and hitting on all cylinders when it matters,” he said.

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