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Undefeated Weber State is back in the FCS playoffs, will host Southern Illinois in the first round

The Wildcats finished the abbreviated spring season 5-0 and won the Big Sky Conference title for the four straight season.

Wide receiver Rashid Shaheed runs with the ball during Weber State’s 20-15 win over Idaho State on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden. Weber State will host Southern Illinois on Saturday in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Weber State Athletics

Weber State football is back in the playoffs again.

The Wildcats, who finished the abbreviated spring season 5-0 and won the Big Sky Conference championship for the fourth consecutive year, have qualified for the FCS postseason for a fifth straight season and the ninth time in program history.

Weber State will host the Southern Illinois Salukis (5-3) in the first round of the 16-team tournament on Saturday, April 24, at 2 p.m. Traditionally the FCS playoffs are a 32-team tournament, but not this year, a byproduct of the pandemic.

Despite its regular-season performance, Weber State was not one of the four top-seeded teams in the tournament. South Dakota State was awarded the No. 1 seed, followed by Sam Houston State, James Madison and Jacksonville State.

The snub was felt in Ogden.

“We were kind of surprised to see some teams that we felt we are better than in the top four,” wide receiver Rashid Shaheed said. “It was definitely a surprise, but we know we can’t dwell on that. It is win and advance regardless, but we definitely felt like we should have been in the top four.”

Added head coach Jay Hill: “I thought that we would have got one of the top four seeds and the players felt the same way, but the reality is that doesn’t matter. You have to win to advance. That is the only thing that matters now.”

The Weber State program has been transformed under Hill, who is 52-30 in seven seasons in Ogden, and expectations are to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“The whole goal when I took over at Weber State was to win Big Sky titles, go to the playoffs and make noise in the playoffs,” Hill said. “We’ve built the program up to the point where now that is the expectation. That is a good thing. The players are excited and have a high expectation of where we should be.”

If the Wildcats are victorious against the Salukis, they will face either South Dakota State or Holy Cross in the quarterfinals on Saturday, May 1.