By Steve Robinson | November 25, 2019 - 4:15 pm
Posted in Category: ISU Redbirds, The Normalite

NORMAL – With his team’s road loss at Youngstown State still weighing on his mind through most of Saturday, Illinois State University head football coach Brock Spack admits that he didn’t even start to address whether his 8-4 team would be considered for 2019 FCS playoffs until he woke up Sunday. When he and his team gathered in the Hancock Stadium Club Room, they found out within the first 15 minutes of the broadcast which would announce the teams which qualified to extend their seasons.

ISU, with an 8-4 record, did qualify, leading to cheering from the team and those fans and supporters, numbering around 35, who anxiously awaited word on the subject. As a result, the Redbirds will be the visitors when they take on Southeast Missouri University Saturday, beginning at 1p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3. A total of eight teams received byes from the selection committee. One of those teams, Central Arkansas University, received an 8th seed, and would be the Redbirds’ next opponent should Spack’s troops emerge victorious Saturday.

Two other Missouri Valley Football Conference teams earned high seeds and byes courtesy of the selection committee. North Dakota State, at 12-0 overall and 8-0 MVFC, earned the top seed in the FCS playoffs. South Dakota State, at 8-4 overall and 5-3 MVFC, earned a 7th seed.

Redbirds players sat quietly waiting for the broadcast to start but cheered loudly along with those fans who came to check out the results when ISU was announced as one of the teams in the brackets.

Following the announcement, Spack reminded reporters, “We’ve built a pretty good road team this year and we’ve been a pretty good road team in the playoffs. So, we’ll see. SEMO has a very good football team and a good program, so we’ll have to play well.”

The 11th season head coach will be taking the Redbirds into the playoffs for a fifth year, which includes to the FCS Championship against North Dakota State to close out the 2014-15 season.

“We’re just excited to be in the playoffs, whether on the road or at home,” Spack said.

“We’re excited about getting a bid in the playoffs since it has been a couple years where we haven’t been in,” said Spack’s boss, ISU Athletic Director Larry Lyons. “You know what? Someone gets to host and someone gets to go on the road. We’ll go down to SEMO and we’ll do our very best to win that game, and then it looks like it could be a rematch with Central Arkansas in the second round.” Lyons was quick to remind the Redbirds and the Bears met in FCS play a couple years ago.

“I think the kids and the coaches are very excited to be back in the playoffs,” Lyons said. On the way back from Ohio, Lyons added, “I still felt confident we had the resume to get a home game. The committee didn’t see it that way.”

Redbirds Injury List: For ISU, getting into the FCS playoffs is the good news. But looking at their injury list, they will take on the Redhawks of the Ohio Valley Conference while missing some key players and playing a team that seems to know how to handle MVFC teams. Among ISU’s injured: Senior offensive lineman Gabe Megginson, out for the year; Junior quarterback Brady Davis, who was injured in ISU’s game against Missouri State game and is out for the year; Junior backup running back Jeff Proctor, injured in Missouri State game and gone for the year; Sophomore wide receiver Taylor Grimes, a starter on the team who was hurt in ISU’s game against Northern Arizona and is gone for the year); And redshirt freshman wide receiver Eric Rogers.

The Redbirds did get two other key players who just came off the injury list. Sophomore starting wide receiver Andrew Edgar, a 2018 freshman All American who was out for 8 weeks and returned last week at Youngstown State; And junior starting fullback Tim McCloyn, who saw limited duty for a month due to a hand injury but is back in time for the playoffs.

Familiar ISU Foes Lost In Cape Girardeau: If you want to know if or how SEMO did against other MVFC teams, all you need to do is look at their schedule. SEMO, members of the Ohio Valley Conference, played host to and defeated Southern Illinois to open the season in August, 44-26. Eastern Illinois, an OVC member who often plays ISU, also fell victim to the Redhawks this year, two weeks ago, 26-12.

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