MISSOULA — Come Sunday morning, Montana's pain after Saturday's loss to Montana State stings even more.

Montana's season has officially come to an end, as the Grizzlies were not a part of the 24-team playoff field released by the FCS on ESPNU.

The last time Montana missed the playoffs two years in a row was 1991-92.

Several teams with 7-4 records or better didn't make the field. Three of those teams are in the Big Sky — Montana, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State. 

At No. 17 this week, Eastern Washington was the highest ranked team to not make the field, other than Grambling State of the SWAC. The SWAC doesn't participate in the FCS playoffs.

The team with the best season that didn't make the field was McNeese State of the Southland with a 9-2 record.

Three Big Sky teams made the cut. Southern Utah clinched the No. 8 seed, receiving a first-round bye. Weber State and Northern Arizona received at-large bids.

Southern Utah and Weber State could potentially meet in a rematch. The winner of the Weber State vs. Western Illinois game plays Southern Utah in Cedar City.

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The FCS playoff field:

Seeded teams receiving first round byes:

  • No. 1 seed — James Madison — Colonial
  • No. 2 seed — North Dakota State — Missouri Valley
  • No. 3 seed — Jacksonville State — Ohio Valley
  • No. 4 seed — Central Arkansas — Southland 
  • No. 5 seed — South Dakota State — Missouri Valley
  • No. 6 seed — Sam Houston State —Southland 
  • No. 7 seed — Wofford — Southern
  • No. 8 seed — Southern Utah — Big Sky

Teams receiving automatic bids for winning their conference were:

  • Big Sky: Southern Utah (9-2)
  • Big South: Kennesaw State (10-1)
  • Colonial: James Madison (11-0)
  • Missouri Valley: North Dakota State (10-1)
  • Northeast: Central Connecticut (8-3)
  • Ohio Valley: Jacksonville State (10-1)
  • Patriot League: Lehigh (5-6)
    • Lehigh is the first sub .500 team to make the FCS playoff.
  • Pioneer League: San Diego (9-2)
  • Southern: Wofford (9-2)
  • Southland: Cen;tral Arkansas (10-1)

Teams receiving at-large bids:

  • Stony Brook (9-2) — Colonial
  • Western Illinois (8-3) — Missouri Valley
  • Weber State (9-2) — Big Sky
  • Monmouth (9-2) — Big South
  • Northern Iowa (7-4) — Missouri Valley
  • New Hampshire (7-4) — Colonial
  • Samford (8-3) — Southern
  • Sam Houston State (10-1) — Southland
  • Nicholls State — Southland
  • Furman (7-4) — Southern
  • Elon (8-3) — Colonial
  • South Dakota State (9-2) — Missouri Valley 
  • South Dakota (7-4) — Missouri Valley 
  • Northern Arizona (7-4) — Big Sky 

First-round games:

  • Lehigh at Stony Brook
  • Western Illinois at Weber State
  • Monmouth at Northern Iowa
  • Central Connecticut State at New Hampshire
  • Samford at ​Kennesaw State
  • South Dakota at Nicholls
  • Furman at Elon​​
  • San Diego at Northern Arizona

Several conferences have multiple teams in the field. Here's how many each conference has:

  • Missouri Valley: 5 (North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota, Western Illinois)
  • Colonial: 4 (James Madison, Stony Brook, Elon, New Hampshire)
  • Big Sky: 3 (Southern Utah, Weber State, Northern Arizona)
  • Southern: 3 (Wofford, Samford, Furman)
  • Southland: 3 (Central Arkansas, Sam Houston State, Nicholls)
  • Big South: 2 (Kennesaw State, Monmouth)
  • Ohio Valley: 1 (Jacksonville State)
  • Pioneer League: 1 (San Diego)
  • Patriot League: 1 (Lehigh)
  • Northeastern: 1 (Central Connecticut)

The full bracket can be found here

Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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