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So. Utah opens FCS playoffs on road at Sam Houston State


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CEDAR CITY — Big Sky Conference champion Southern Utah will open the 2015 NCAA Division I FCS football playoffs on the road at Sam Houston State on Nov. 28.

The Thunderbirds won their first Big Sky Conference championship with a 49-41 win over Northern Arizona on Saturday night. Former BYU quarterback Ammon Olson threw for 430 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in the win.

The winner between SUU and Sam Houston State will face fourth-seeded McNeese State on Dec. 5. See the complete 24-team bracket here.

"It's exciting for the guys who were there two years ago," SUU coach Ed Lamb said in a statement from the school. "We jumped out to a lead in the first quarter, played really well and just wore out. They had a really good running back that got out on us a little bit and didn't handle it well. So it's a chance to erase a bad memory or replace it with a better one and for the guys who were on the team two years ago it's exciting and it's exciting for me."

The Thunderbirds (8-3) were one of three Big Sky teams to earn a playoff bid. Portland State and Montana each drew an at-large bid to the postseason tournament.

Montana will play South Dakota State on Nov. 28, with the winner traveling to four-time defending national champion North Dakota State the following week.

Despite finishing second in the conference, Portland State was the lone Big Sky team to earn a first-round bye. The Vikings, who are led by former Mountain Crest, BYU and Snow College quarterback Alex Kuresa, drew the No. 6 overall seed and will face the winner of Northern Iowa and Eastern Illinois on Dec. 5.

Portland State, which defeated FBS foe Washington State in the season opener, edged Southern Utah 24-23 in the penultimate week of the season.

Jacksonville State (10-1) drew the top overall seed for the playoffs, followed by Illinois State (9-2), North Dakota State (9-2) and undefeated McNeese State (10-0).

Kickoff between SUU and Sam Houston State is scheduled for 1 p.m. MST and will be streamed live on ESPN3.

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Sean Walker

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