FCS Playoffs Schedule
Saturday, Nov. 26
Saint Francis (Pa.) (7-4) at Villanova (8-3), 2 p.m.
Weber State (7-4) at UTC (8-3), 2 p.m.
Lehigh (9-2) at New Hampshire (7-4), 2 p.m.
Charleston Southern (7-3) at Wofford (8-3), 2 p.m.
N.C. A&T (9-2) at Richmond (8-3), 2 p.m.
Illinois State (6-5) at Central Arkansas (9-2), 3 p.m.
Samford (7-4) at Youngstown State (8-3), 5 p.m.
San Diego (9-1) at Cal Poly (7-4), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3
Lehigh-New Hampshire winner at James Madison (10-1), 2 p.m.
Samford-Youngstown State winner at Jacksonville State (10-1), 2 p.m.
Saint Francis (Pa.)-Villanova winner at South Dakota State (8-3), 3 p.m.
Weber State-UTC winner at Sam Houston State (11-0), 3 p.m.
Illinois State-Central Arkansas winner at Eastern Washington (10-1), 4 p.m.
San Diego-Cal Poly winner at North Dakota State (10-1), 3:30 p.m.
Charleston Southern-Wofford winner at The Citadel (10-1), 6 p.m.
N.C. A&T-Richmond winner at North Dakota (9-2), 6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 9-Saturday, Dec. 10
San Diego-Cal Poly—North Dakota State winner vs. Saint Francis (Pa.)-Villanova—South Dakota State winner
Weber State-UTC—Sam Houston State winner vs. Lehigh-New Hampshire—James Madison winner
Samford-Youngstown State—Jacksonville State winner vs. Charleston Southern-Wofford—The Citadel winner
N.C. A&T-Richmond—North Dakota winner vs. Illinois State-Central Arkansas—Eastern Washington winner
Friday, Dec. 16
Pairings TBD, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 17
Pairings TBD, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 7
At Toyota Stadium, Houston
Semifinal winners, noon
Coach Russ Huesman and his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team took all the precautions in case they were disappointed on Football Championship Subdivision playoff selection Sunday, because they'd been in a similar situation before.
In the end, there really wasn't much to have been worried about.
The 11th-ranked Mocs (8-3) not only made the 24-team field for the playoffs, they will host No. 25 Weber State (7-4) in a first-round game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Finley Stadium.
UTC is in the same sector of the bracket with top-ranked but fifth-seeded Sam Houston State (11-0), meaning that if the Mocs win Saturday, they would travel to Huntsville, Texas, for a second-round game on Dec. 3.
The Mocs finished the regular season with a 31-3 loss at Football Bowl Subdivision top-ranked Alabama on Saturday night, but there were a number of positive takeaways from the performance. UTC led 3-0 after the first quarter, the first team to lead the Crimson Tide after any quarter since Ole Miss on Sept. 17. Alabama finished with only 335 yards of total offense against the Mocs, their second-worst offensive output of the season behind 323 yards against LSU.
The Mocs left Saturday's game confident about their performance, but because they hadn't won the Southern Conference and had three losses, they couldn't be completely sure they were going to the playoffs. It was similar to 2013, when they shared the SoCon championship but weren't sure of their fate. A selection show watch party was held, with ESPN cameras in attendance.
The Mocs didn't get in.
Even though he felt "really good" about his team's prospects, Huesman wasn't taking any chances Sunday. He watched the show in his office, as did the rest of the coaching staff. Once they saw the draw, they went to work.
"The coaches are going to work long tonight," Huesman said Sunday. "We'll get cranked up, get a good game plan. I know the guys are excited to play. They felt they were competitive (at Alabama), and they're excited to play this Saturday."
Huesman did note there were rumblings — "good rumblings" — from the coaching staff when Samford, which lost 15-14 game at East Tennessee State on Saturday, was listed in the draw. That gave the SoCon four teams, with Wofford and sixth-seeded The Citadel in as well. UTC lost to The Citadel and Wofford but beat Samford.
Weber State went 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference for a third-place finish in the league. The Wildcats are led by quarterback Jadrian Clark, who has passed for 2,823 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Four of his receivers have at least 35 catches, led by Andrew Vollert's 57 for 757 yards and six scores.
Their leading rusher is Treshaun Garrett, who has 517 yards and five touchdowns.
Weber State coach Jay Hill sounded like Huesman when it came to his team's bubble status for the playoffs, saying the Wildcats felt good but "didn't quite know" for sure.
"I'm just super excited for this team and especially the group of seniors that deserve this opportunity," he said. "I don't know anything about them (UTC) at this point, but we're excited to go play."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.