The Big Sky Conference unveiled the anticipated release of the 2021 spring football schedule Wednesday, originally planned for this fall and postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The slate begins Feb. 27 and concludes April 10.
Weber State begins its quest for a fourth straight Big Sky title in Pocatello. Here’s how the slate lines up for the Wildcats:
Feb. 27: at Idaho State
March 6: vs. Montana State
March 13: vs. Northern Arizona
March 27: at Southern Utah
April 3: vs. Northern Colorado
April 10: at UC Davis
Selection for the FCS Playoffs is schedule for April 18, with games beginning April 24.
As Jay Hill indicated two weeks ago, the six-game schedule is organized in a format of three game weeks, an open week, three more game weeks and another open week prior to the 16-team playoff. That allows for byes, or for make-up games if contests are disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Montana State finished 2019 tied for second in the Big Sky, was the No. 5 overall seed in the playoffs and advanced to the semifinals, as did Weber State. UC Davis went 3-5, and Weber State’s other four opponents all went 2-6 in the Big Sky last season.
With the playoff field reduced from 24 to 16 teams, and 11 of those spots going to automatic qualifiers via conference championships, it seems likely that a 5-1 record is the requisite bar to reach for playoff qualification or consideration. Imbalanced schedules and less games will increase the importance of each game as teams jockey for the conference title and limited playoff spots.
Looking across the landscape of schedules in the conference, it appears efforts were made to give each team the most regionally close set of games possible.
For example, Idaho State plays the same set of opponents as Weber, except with Idaho subbed in for Northern Arizona. Eastern Washington plays Portland State, Montana, UC Davis, Idaho, Montana State and Cal Poly.
12 of the 13 football schools in the Big Sky are participating. Sacramento State has opted out of the spring season.
The schedule gives a glimpse to how seasons will intersect after fall sports were moved to the spring, while winter and spring sports attempt to play as scheduled.
Saturday, March 6, is Weber State football’s first scheduled home game against Montana State — the same day as Weber State men’s basketball’s regular-season finale, a home contest against Northern Colorado.
Weber State did not include information about potential fan attendance with Wednesday’s schedule release.
The Wildcats were picked to win the Big Sky for the first time in preseason polling before the season was postponed to the spring. WSU finished the 2019 ranked No. 3 nationally, a program record, and was voted No. 4 in the STATS FCS Top 25 preseason poll for the upcoming season.