Jeff Choate

Montana State coach Jeff Choate receives a Gatorade bath near the end of the Bobcats' 48-14 win over Montana on Saturday in Bozeman.

BOZEMAN — A day after its 48-14 shellacking of archrival Montana, Montana State learned its playoff positioning Sunday morning with the release of the NCAA Division I Football Championship postseason seeding and bracket.

The Bobcats (9-3, 6-2 Big Sky) are seeded fifth and will have a bye for the first round this weekend. They will then host the winner of the first-round matchup between Albany and Central Connecticut State in the second round at Bobcat Stadium on Dec. 7.

“We’ll start digging in on those two and see what we can find out about them,” coach Jeff Choate said Sunday in quotes provided by MSU.

Montana State rushed for 382 yards and six touchdowns against the Griz, led by Isaiah Ifanse’s 171-yard, three-TD effort. It was MSU’s fourth consecutive win over Montana.

The Bobcats are ranked No. 5 in this week’s STATS FCS Top 25 poll, which was released Sunday.

Central Connecticut State (11-1) won the Northeast Conference with a 7-0 league record. The Blue Devils, whose campus is in New Britain, Connecticut, beat Duquesne on the road 43-10 on Saturday. It was their eighth straight win.

They are ranked No. 17 in this week’s poll.

Albany (8-4) defeated Stony Brook on the road 31-26 on Saturday to finish the regular season with three straight victories and five wins in its last six. The Great Danes, who make their home in Albany, New York, are an at-large bid from the Colonial Athletic Association.

Albany is ranked No. 25 in this week’s poll.

A potential matchup with No. 3-seeded Sacramento State looms for Montana State in the quarterfinals. That game, if it materializes, would be played at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California, on Dec. 13 or 14.

Sacramento State (9-3) earned a share of its first-ever Big Sky Conference title following a 27-17 win over UC Davis on Saturday. The Hornets shared the league title with Weber State (9-3), which beat Idaho State 38-10 to earn the automatic playoff bid from the Big Sky.

The Hornets are making their first Division I postseason appearance.

Including MSU and Sacramento State, four Big Sky teams were seeded and will have first-round byes. The others are third-seeded Weber State and sixth-seeded Montana (9-3).

The Grizzlies and Weber State could also potentially match-up in a quarterfinal game.

"We beat each other up a little bit, but I think the (selection) committee recognized the quality of the league overall and rewarded us with those seeds," Choate said. 

“In a quarterfinal matchup there’s the potential for all four of us to play one another, so that’s kind of interesting,” Choate added.

The other seeds are as follows: No. 1 North Dakota State (11-0), No. 2 James Madison (11-1), No. 7 South Dakota State (8-4) and No. 8 Central Arkansas (9-3).

The other first-round matchups this week pit North Dakota (7-4) at Nicholls State (8-4), Illinois State (8-4) at Southeast Missouri (9-3), Furman (8-4) at Austin Peay (9-3), Kennesaw State (10-2) at Wofford (8-3), Villanova (9-3) at Southeastern Louisiana (7-4), San Diego (9-2) at Northern Iowa (8-4), and Holy Cross (7-5) at Monmouth (10-2).

North Dakota State has won seven of the last eight FCS national championships, including two in a row.

Montana State is making its second consecutive trip to the postseason. In 2018, the Bobcats beat Incarnate Word 35-14 in a first-round game before losing to eventual champion NDSU 52-10 the following week.

The 2019 championship game will be played Jan. 11 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

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Email Greg Rachac at Greg.Rachac@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @gregrachac

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