For the third-consecutive year, Illinois State (6-5, 4-4 MVFC) is among the 24 teams selected to play in the FCS Playoffs, as the Redbirds earned a spot in the field and will play at Central Arkansas (9-2, 8-1 Southland) Saturday at 2 p.m. CT at First Security Field at Estes Stadium in Conway, Arkansas. The game will air live on ESPN3.
The third-consecutive trip to the FCS playoffs is unprecedented for Illinois State, which won four of its last five games overall and its last three to earn its spot in the playoff field. A FBS win over in-state foe Northwestern and key wins down the stretch against No. 8 national seed South Dakota State and nationally-ranked Western Illinois helped put the Redbirds over the top for one of the final at-large berths.
The Redbirds are one of four Missouri Valley Football Conference teams in the playoff field, joining No. 1 overall seed and five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State, No. 8 seed and MVFC regular-season champion South Dakota State and Youngstown State. Overall, this will be the seventh trip to the FCS playoffs for the Redbirds.
Central Arkansas had an eight-game win streak snapped yesterday, as undefeated Sam Houston State cruised to a 59-23 victory over the Bears to win the outright conference championship. The nine regular-season victories are the most for the Bears since 2012, when UCA made its last playoff appearance.
The Redbirds and Bears have met just once previously, with Illinois State coming away with an 18-3 victory over Central Arkansas at Hancock Stadium on Sept. 9, 2006. Illinois State has played several Southland Conference opponents in the past, with a 6-3 overall record including a matchup against Northwestern State in the 1998 playoffs.
Tickets for the contest will go on sale at GoRedbirds.com/tickets beginning at 9 a.m., Monday morning. Fans can also purchase tickets by phone at (309) 438-8000 or at the Redbird Arena Ticket Office Monday morning starting at 9 a.m.
GoRedbirds.com: Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.