Less than 24 hours after what is being called "The Miracle in Missoula," where Montana State overcame a 22-point deficit to rival Montana, the Bobcats learned they will be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
The 2018 FCS Playoff Bracket – Seeds, Matchups, Last 3 In, First 3 Out
On Sunday morning it was announced that the Bobcats will take on Incarnate Word next weekend in Bozeman. The Cardinals are a Southland Conference team out of San Antonio, Texas. UIW is also one of the several six-win teams to sneak their way into the playoffs this year.
In my opinion, this is a pretty good draw for the Bobcats, especially considering they were borderline a bubble team.
The Cardinals have played two playoff teams during their 2018 campaign, Nicholls State and Lamar, and they've lost both those games. Another statistic that jumped out to me was the fact that the Cardinals are 2-4 on the road this year, their only road wins coming against Abilene Christian and Central Arkansas.
On top of all this, you can bet UIW is not accustomed to playing in the cold, and Saturday will be chilly in Bozeman and there may even be snow on the ground.
I also found it interesting that the FCS Playoff Committee decided to send Incarnate Word all the way to Bozeman for a first-round game. Typically, matchups are heavily based on geographical proximity. While Texas and Montana aren't all the way across the country from each other, it seems the committee could have found closer opponents for the two; possibly flip-flopping the San Diego and Nicholls State matchup, sending the Toreros to Bozeman and the Cardinals to a much closer game in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
If the Bobcats were to win on Saturday they would matchup with reigning-champs, the North Dakota State Bison. NDSU, a perennial powerhouse out of the Missouri Valley Conference, would be a tough game for any team, and would prove to be a huge uphill battle for the Cats if they play them. For now MSU, will have to focus on Incarnate Word in the coming days and try to earn their first playoff victory in six years.
Some Key Notes on UIW
The Cardinals are a pass-heavy team, led by freshman QB Jon Copeland. He has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this season and 22 touchdowns. Copeland has only netted 77 rushing yards during 2018, so the Cats shouldn't expect much running out of him.
Senior wide receivers Phillip Baptiste and Kody Edwards are Copeland's favorite targets. The two have combined for 1,641 yards on 99 receptions and 12 touchdowns. UIW also has a pretty strong running back in senior Ra'Quanne Dickens who has rushed for an average of 105 yards each game.
Defensively UIW gives up 476 yards of offense to their opponents each week (307.4 passing and 168.4 rushing). Their defense is led by OLB Silas Stewart who has stacked up 85 tackles and three interceptions throughout the season.