MH 112517 Weber State Western Illinois 10-5

Weber State fans and players celebrate after defeating Western Illinois, 21-19, in a first round FCS playoff game Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

OGDEN — There may not be a better day to be a Weber State fan than Saturday, Dec. 1.

The football team, ranked No. 2 by the body that matters most — the playoff committee — hosts a second-round playoff game against Southeast Missouri State at 2 p.m. WSU has never hosted beyond the first round and has never played a home football game in December.

That night, WSU men’s basketball hosts in-state foe BYU. While it’s only a non-conference, regular-season game, Weber hosts BYU only once every three years. The proximity means fans can migrate roughly one mile south to the Purple Palace when the football game wraps up.

“We’re excited about it and I think the community is. People are saying they’re excited to spend the day with us and it’s been fun to get ready for,” athletic director Jerry Bovee said.

The biggest value is for fans. A postseason game in the golden age of the football program, for as low as $10 per ticket, followed by an in-state basketball battle being played for the 44th time, also for as low as $10 per ticket, while supplies last.

“The football team has done a great job, they have a home playoff game, couldn’t be more exciting,” head basketball coach Randy Rahe said. “I’m sure we’re going to have a great crowd for that. And with BYU coming in, it’s one of those great-to-be-a-Wildcat days. It’s great competition for both teams. It’s great for the fans to see exciting football and exciting basketball in the same day. It doesn’t happen very often.”

College football ratings-keeper Jeff Sagarin has WSU football favored by 10.5 points, while hoops analyst Ken Pomeroy’s numbers say BYU is favored by three in the nightcap.

“I’m excited for that day. What an awesome day that is for us,” head football coach Jay Hill said.

It’s a lot to get ready for, too. WSU must prepare to host a team traveling from Missouri, make sure it has contingencies to clear a football field from snow if needed, have the numbers to staff both games and help two TV outlets — ESPN and KJZZ — be ready for broadcasting.

But the big-stage nature of the day elicits positive feelings.

“I can see the pride in all our staff, from a person who works in the insurance office as an hourly employee to (head athletic trainer) Joel Bass, who’s been here almost 30 years,” Bovee said. “I think everyone takes pride in it, including coaches in all the sports. Success reflects on everyone … because it’s a lot of hard work for everybody.”

Both teams plan to support each other, though the basketball players have less ability to do so being on the back-end of the day.

“We want to win Saturday, play well and then go enjoy the basketball game. That’s a huge deal for us,” Hill said.

The feeling is that as hard as the teams have worked, and the department in marketing and preparing for the game, fan support will make a difference — especially for a football team that is 20-3 against FCS teams over the last two seasons.

“I get people all the time saying ‘You’ve got to keep Jay Hill,’” Bovee said. “You know what will keep Jay Hill? Is if this place sells out. That’s a signal to him from the community, ‘We appreciate what you’re doing here and we’re on board.’

“To me, that’s the litmus test is will we embrace it. That’s the thing that keeps me up at night.”

Tickets can be purchased for both games at WeberStateTickets.com or at the Dee Events Center ticket office. Those with cable subscriptions can watch the football game on WatchESPN (app or website). The basketball game will air on KJZZ TV in Utah and on WatchBigSky.com and the PlutoTV app.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

(2) comments

CatsFan95

Go Cats! I am psyched to watch the playoffs again this year! And they're all home; just got to keep winning! It kills me to go to the games and they're only 8,000 people. This is a great team! Probably the best Weber's ever had. The athletic department has to find a way to get people in the stands! Step up that marketing!

brentwhonda

This opportunity is truly remarkable. I'm still in awe of the fact that the Wildcats have secured home field throughout the playoffs!!! I've talked to so many fans who are beyond excited. This team is so talented and disciplined. I've been to several practices and witnessed how tirelessly the players and coaches work. Extremely hard... Get up, get out, and get LOUD for these Wildcats on Saturday!!!

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