The Illinois State football players and coaches had a lot to cheer about November 18 at the Kaufman Football Building, as the team was selected to participate in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The Redbirds (8-3, 5-3 MVFC) will travel to Appalachian State (8-3, 6-2 SoCon) Saturday, December 1, for a second-round game. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. CDT and will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
Illinois State, which was ranked No. 16 in the final regular-season poll released Sunday by The Sports Network, will be making its fourth NCAA playoff appearance in school history. The Redbirds are 3-3 in playoff games, with appearances in 1999, 1999, and 2006. The 1999 team advanced to the semifinals, but was eliminated by eventual national champion Georgia Southern and Walter Payton Award winner Adrian Peterson in Statesboro, Georgia.
The Redbirds finished in a tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) this season, with wins over then nationally ranked Youngstown State and Indiana State. Illinois State also posted a perfect 5-0 road record, including the program’s first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since 1991, when it defeated Eastern Michigan 31-14 on September 8.
Illinois State is one of three Missouri Valley Football Conference members selected to participate in the 20-team field. No. 1 ranked North Dakota State (10-1, 7-1 MVFC) is the top seed in the playoffs, while South Dakota State (8-3, 6-2 MVFC) faces Eastern Illinois in the opening round November 24.
Perennial FCS contender Appalachian State is ranked No. 7 by The Sports Network and will host the Redbirds at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina. The Mountaineers clinched their record-tying 12th Southern Conference championship Saturday with a 33-28 home victory over Furman. Appalachian State won three consecutive FCS national championships from 2005–2007 and gained national attention early in the 2007 season, when it beat No. 5–ranked Michigan 34–32 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Tickets for the Redbird game can be purchased by calling the Illinois State Athletics Ticket Office at (309) 438-8000 or by ordering online at GoRedbirds.com. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $15 for youths ages 3 to 12 (tickets are free for children ages 2 and under) and $5 for Illinois State students.