While Weber State football and its fans would have rather experienced a win Saturday at Montana, the result sets up an exciting finish to the regular season that has all sorts of interesting implications on the upcoming playoff selection and seeding process.
The latest STATS FCS Top 25 poll has Montana at No. 3, Sacramento State at No. 4 and Weber State at No. 6. All three are 6-1 in the Big Sky and would all share the conference title with wins this week.
STATS voters won’t necessarily reflect how the playoff committee selects and seeds teams. For example, Sacramento State is the only of the three first-place teams to play a non-Division I opponent — something not required to be weighed by poll voters but that is definitely a factor for the playoff committee.
Kenneth Massey, whose computer formula was once used in the now-defunct BCS rankings, still operates his formula and applies it to the FCS level. According to Massey’s metrics, Weber State has the absolute toughest schedule in all of FCS football to this point of the season. (Massey has WSU at No. 5 in his overall ranking).
Should everyone win this week, the committee is in a conundrum. How do you order three teams who all took turns beating each other up but who all clearly deserve one of the top eight seeds?
Then there’s matchups to consider. Weber State (8-3, 6-1 Big Sky) hosts the worst of the three opponents this week in Idaho State (3-8, 2-5). Sacramento State (8-3, 6-1) is also home, playing a tough but inconsistent UC Davis (5-6, 3-4). Montana (9-2, 6-1) draws the toughest matchup, playing on the road at No. 8 Montana State (8-3, 5-2).
Should Montana State secure a win over Montana, the door would open for a possibility of four Big Sky teams getting playoff seeds, while also allowing Weber State to grab the highest seed of the four.
The UM-MSU “Brawl of the Wild” starts this week’s action at noon Saturday and the condensed schedule finishes with UC Davis at Sac State kicking off at 3 p.m. Weber State kicks off at 2 p.m. at Stewart Stadium.
Weber State got banged up in its loss at Montana but, for now, the hope is nothing is long-term enough to knock anyone out for the rest of the season.
Junior receiver Rashid Shaheed appeared to injure his knee when getting rolled on while blocking during the first quarter, and sophomore tight end Justin Malone also suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Neither will be available this week against Idaho State but head coach Jay Hill indicated a hope that both could return come playoff time.
Junior quarterback Jake Constantine left Saturday’s game in apparent pain after taking a hit. Hill said Constantine took a hit to his back, which then seized up a bit. Constantine practiced Tuesday and Hill said he was ready to go.
Sophomore receiver Devon Cooley left Saturday’s game in the first quarter and entered concussion protocol but Hill said Cooley should be available to play this week. Sophomore running back Josh Davis took some hits as well but is good to go this week.
In Shaheed’s absence, surging sophomore Ty MacPherson will start at receiver and Weber High alum and freshman Hudson Schenck will handle punt return duties. Layton High alum and freshman Hayden Meacham will start at tight end in Malone’s absence.