NORMAL, Ill. – The Illinois State football team was selected to participate in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Division for the first time since 2006 when the playoff field was announced by the NCAA.
The Redbirds (8-3, 5-3 MVFC) will travel to Appalachian State (8-3, 6-2 SoCon) on Dec. 1 for a second-round game at 1 p.m. CT, which will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
ISU, which was ranked No. 16 in the final regular-season poll released by The Sports Network Sunday, will be making its fourth NCAA playoff appearance in school history.
The Redbirds are 3-3 all-time in playoff games, with appearances in 1999, 1999 and 2006. The 1999 team advanced to the semifinals, but was eliminated by eventual national champion Georgia Southern and Walter Payton Award Winner Adrian Peterson in Statesboro, Ga.
The Redbirds finished in a tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference this season, with wins over then nationally-ranked Youngstown State and Indiana State.
ISU also posted a perfect 5-0 road record, including the program’s first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since 1991, when it defeated Eastern Michigan by a score of 31-14 on Sept. 8.
Illinois State is one of three Missouri Valley Football Conference members selected to participate in the 20-team field. No. 1 ranked North Dakota State (10-1, 7-1 MVFC) is the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, while South Dakota State (8-3, 6-2 MVFC) faces Eastern Illinois in the opening round next Saturday.
Perennial FCS contender Appalachian State is ranked No. 7 by The Sports Network and will host the Redbirds at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C.
The Mountaineers clinched their record-tying 12th Southern Conference championship with a 33-28 victory over Furman at home Saturday.
APSU won three-consecutive FCS national championships from 2005-07 and gained national attention early in the 2007 season, when it shocked No. 5 ranked Michigan and defeated the Wolverines, 34–32, in Ann Arbor, Mich.