After completing an undefeated season in the WIAC and going 9-1 overall, the UW-La Crosse football team has earned one of the four top seeds in this year’s Division III playoffs.
Eagles players and coaches exploded when they were the first team revealed in the half hour selection show Sunday afternoon.
At noon Saturday, UW-L, ranked No. 4 in the final DIII Top 25 poll, will host unranked Minnesota-Morris (7-3, 5-0).
This is the 14th playoff appearance in UW-L history, which includes two National Championships (1992, 1995). This is the first home playoff game since 2006.
UW-L coach Matt Janus, whose team is making its third consecutive playoff appearance, said it will be a tough test for every team left standing going forward.
“At this point in the year, every team’s a good team. Every team has been through conference battles,” Janus said. “We’re going to get a battle tested and tough team coming in here.”
As opposed to the last two seasons, when the Eagles relied on receiving an at-large bid from the committee, the only question was where UW-L would be seeded and who it would play, after it received the automatic qualifying bid.
Janus said the team is getting comfortable sitting down to watch the show together every season.
“This is three years where we’ve been in this room together, at this time,” Janus said, “and for our freshmen and sophomores, this is the expectation that we are here together in this room watching this on a yearly basis.”
A win Saturday, and the Eagles will play either 11th-ranked Aurora (10-0) or Coe (9-1), which just dropped out of the Top 25. If UW-L makes the third round, there could play a rematch of its only loss this season, 28-21 to then-No. 6 Hardin-Simmons (9-1), which is now ranked 15th.
Last year, the Eagles were eliminated 14-6 in the third round by a Wartburg (10-0) team that made the Final Four. Wartburg, this season, is ranked third in the nation, behind the two teams that made last season’s championship — No. 1 North Central (10-0) and second-ranked Mount Union (10-0).
In 2021, the Eagles lost 34-20 in the second round to DIII runners-up, North Central.