SAN ANTONIO – The Cardinals are officially in.
Following Saturday’s dominant 66-7 road win over Northwestern State in Natchitoches, Louisiana, UIW returned home to host a watch party for the NCAA FCS Selection Show. The back-to-back Southland Conference Champions erupted in celebration once it was announced that the Cardinals would enter the FCS Playoffs as the No. 7 seed, earning a first-round bye for the first time in program history.
“Getting called out, it was great seeing everybody cheer,” quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. said. “Blessed to be in this position. Blessed to have this team and these coaches, and I’m excited to get to work.”
“They were excited, and I was excited,” head coach G.J. Kinne said. “I think it’s really cool how the FCS does this. It was my first time experiencing it, and I wish the FBS did it. We’re excited for sure, but our goal is the National Championship. We’ve been saying it since the very beginning.”
UIW (10-1) will host either Elon (8-3) or Furman (9-2) in the second round of the FCS Playoffs at Benson Stadium on Dec 3. The Cardinals have not played either team this season.
In their two previous playoff appearances, the Cardinals are 1-2, with their only playoff win coming at home against Stephen F. Austin last year 35-28 in overtime. This is the first time UIW enters the playoffs with Kinne leading the way as head coach, and the Cardinals have been underlined as a dark-horse candidate by analysts thanks to a high-powered offense that has scored 35 or more points in eight straight games.
“We need that rest,” linebacker Kelechi Anyalebechi explained. “It gives us time to watch our opponent live. No distractions. Next week, the whole school is going to be off, but we’re going to stay up here. It’s all about dedication. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of these guys here.”