It was bound to play out like this.
To nobody’s surprise, when the 32-team NCAA Division III football playoff brackets were revealed Sunday afternoon, the selection committee made its usual obvious call.
With Linfield winning the Northwest Conference and Pacific Lutheran receiving an at-large bid, the two rival schools will meet in the first round at noon Saturday at Maxwell Field in McMinnville, Ore.
The second-ranked Wildcats and the No. 13 Lutes met in the opening round last season. Linfield eked out a 27-24 victory.
The regular-season rematch in October wasn’t so close. The Wildcats shut out PLU, 29-0, but the past is the past for the Lutes.
“We are very excited,” PLU coach Scott Westering said. “It has been awesome for us to be in the position that we’ve been, to have a week off and to continue to prepare to have the opportunity to go into these playoffs.”
After the Lutes (8-1) closed the regular season with a 28-21 victory at Whitworth on Nov. 9, they had a bye week and spent three days installing some of their game plan for Linfield (9-0) — assuming that is who they would play again if they were selected.
“It was the only known we had,” Westering said.
Linfield and PLU have played six times in the postseason – with each school winning three games.
The winner Saturday will meet the Hampden-Sydney (Va.)/Maryville (Tenn.) winner Nov. 30 at a site to be determined.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com