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Portland State gets first-round bye, second-round home game in FCS playoffs


TRIBUNE PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Portland State players react Sunday morning at Hoffman Hall as they learn they are the No. 6 seed in the FCS playoffs.Game on.

The Portland State Vikings will play at Providence Park at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

The Vikings got their wish — a seed and first-round bye — when the 24-team national field was unveiled Sunday morning.

PSU will face the winner of Saturday’s Northern Iowa-Eastern Illinois game at Northern Iowa. Both those teams are 7-4.

The FCS selection committee made the Vikings (9-2) the No. 6 seed out of eight seeded teams.

This is Portland State’s second appearance in the tournament. The Vikings haven’t been in the postseason since 2000.

“We get to bring a show to Portland,” PSU coach Bruce Barnum said at Hoffman Hall, where the team watched the field be announced on national television. “Having the bye week will help our people get healthy, and it’s great to have someone coming here instead of us having to travel.”

Tickets will be $20 for general admission, $30 for reserved seats. They will go on sale at noon Sunday at www.GoViks.com, and they will be sold starting at 8 a.m. Monday at the PSU box office and at 1-888-VIK-TIKS.

The Vikings wrapped up their regular season Saturday at Cheney, Wash., with a 34-31 victory against Eastern Washington. PSU finished second in the Big Sky, one game behind Southern Utah, which won the conference outright by defeating Northern Arizona 49-41 Saturday at Cedar City, Utah.

But the Vikings (6-2 in the Big Sky) beat Southern Utah 24-23 on Nov. 14 at Providence Park, and their earlier victories over FCS Washington State and North Texas seemed to go a long way in giving them the playoff seed over SUU (8-3), which will open in the first round at Sam Houston State.

“And you know what I liked? We were 5-0 against ranked teams,” Barnum said, “and in this conference, that’s quite an accomplishment, to me, just as much as beating an FCS team.”

A third Big Sky team will keep playing: Montana (7-4), which came on strong down the stretch after losing to Portland State. The Grizzlies will get a home game Saturday in the first round, welcoming South Dakota State to Missoula.

Portland State players were excited to hear the news Sunday morning, but not over-the-top excited.

“They’re probably tired, for one thing,” Barnum said, noting that the Vikings had returned home by bus from Eastern Washington only a few hours earlier.

Also, though, the Vikings were focused on the next game already, and not shocked, they said, with what they have been able to achieve in a huge turnaround season, from 3-9 the year before.

“We felt like we deserved it,” quarterback Alex Kuresa said of the seeding. “Everything that comes to us we deserve, and it’s all do to the hard work we’ve put in, starting in the offseason.

“So now it’s just on to the next thing, and we get a week off to get healthy and get everybody ready.”

The Vikings felt they would make the playoffs after their victory over Southern Utah gave them eight wins, but they still wanted to take care of business at Eastern Washington and secure a top-eight position in the FCS field.

“We weren’t going to be content," Kuresa said. "We want to win every game."