Three MIAA schools make playoffs, Washburn to choose bowl game

Josh Rouse

The NCAA announced Sunday that MIAA champion Northwest Missouri, Central Missouri and Missouri Western all earned NCAA Division II Football playoff berths in the South Central region. Northwest Missouri, the No. 3 seed, will host Missouri Western, the No. 6 seed, Saturday, Nov. 20, at noon in the first round of the playofffs. Central Missouri, the No. 4 seed, will host West Texas A&M, the No. 5 seed, Saturday at 1 p.m.

The winner of the NW Missouri-Missouri Western game will go on to face Texas A&M Kingsville, the No. 2 seed, in the Nov. 27 second round matchup, while the right of the Central Missouri-West Texas A&M will face undefeated Abilene Christian, the No. 1 seed.

While Washburn didn’t make the playoffs, the fact three MIAA schools made it is good news for the Ichabods as Washburn has the fourth-best record in the MIAA and they now have their choice of either playing in the Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo., or the Kanza Bowl at Hummer Sports Park in Topeka.

The most likely choice for Washburn will be the Dec. 4 Kanza Bowl as it is located in Topeka, but the official announcement for the Kanza Bowl will be announced at 10 a.m. Monday at the Capitol Federal Natatorium at Hummer. If Washburn does choose the Kanza Bowl, its expected opponent is Midwestern State (8-3), which, similar to Washburn, finished fourth in the Lone Star Conference behind three playoff qualifiers – Abilene Christian, Texas A&M-Kingsville and West Texas A&M.

Last year, Washburn was in a similar situation as the No. 4 team in the MIAA, but only one MIAA team, eventual national champion Northwest Missouri, made the playoffs. Nebraska-Omaha played in the Kanza Bowl and Missouri Western went to the Mineral Water Bowl, while Washburn was held out of postseason play with an 8-3 record.

“It’s hard to say when it goes to a committee,” said head coach Craig Schurig following last year’s snub from postseason play. “You’re relying on different voices and different people analyzing different things. We’re kinda putting it in the hands of someone else. We obviously felt, as a coaching staff and as players, that we finished very strong and we had the credentials to really be evaluated strongly for the playoffs. That didn’t work out, so we’re disappointed.”