Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared Saturday, Jan. 5 as "EAG" Day in honor of the Eastern Washington University Eagles playing in the FCS National Championship.
The Eastern Washington University Eagles are facing off against No. 1 North Dakota State in the championship game on Saturday.
"The proclamation highlights Eastern’s various accomplishments over the last year, such as its contributions to the professional workforce and vibrant economy in the Spokane region through its commitment to student success and investments in projects like the new Catalyst Building in Spokane's U-District and Interdisciplinary Science Center in Cheney," the governor's office said in a press release.
The game begins at 9 a.m. at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Fans can catch the game on ESPN2 or via ESPN3.
ESPN will also stream the game online.
Inslee encouraged fans across Washington to wear Eastern Red and cheer EWU to victory.
The Eags advanced to the FCS championship after beating Maine 50-19 in early December. Maine took down Weber State – the only team that beat Eastern on the FCS level – before playing the Eagles.
The NDSU Bison have won 120 out of 133 games since 2010 and have won all six times they have advanced to the championship since then. The Eags won the national championship title in 2010 in their first appearance and knocked off NDSU in the quarterfinals 31-31 in overtime.
Head Coach Aaron Best, who was on the staff in 2010, said coaches are drawing upon this experience with some changes.
“That notepad got lost a long time ago. That was an assistant. We remember some of those times but it was kind of such a blur. It was almost 3,000 days ago…that’s crazy to think about in those terms,” he added.
Eastern played NDSU last season at home, where the Bison captured a 40-13 win. Best said he does not see that game as a reference point as to what will happen come Saturday.
“Some of the same cast of characters but different if you will. We included a bunch of guys that haven’t played – that didn’t play – against North Dakota State here in ’17. That was early on, two games into our career as a coaching staff, so I think that’s different and every game is different,” Best said.
“When you can play for a championship, especially on the national level, that’s a special moment and I don’t think the stage will be too big for these guys,” he added.
The Eagles are 90-29 since 2010, a percentage that trails only the Bison and Harvard, which does not participate in the playoffs.
The Bison boast a 14-0 record this season and are the 13.5-point favorite in Saturday’s game. The team also held the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs and was unanimously ranked the top team throughout the season in the STATS Top 25 poll.
Eastern entered the playoffs as the No. 3 overall seed and finished the regular season ranked third by STATS.
Best says NDSU has seen challenges in quarters and halves throughout the season, but has not been challenged from start to finish.
“We don’t have to play perfect. Don’t get it twisted. In no game are we going to have to play perfect. We just gotta be productive,” he said.
The Eagles arrived in Frisco, Texas, this week. Greene spoke with some of the team’s players before they left Cheney.
“It’s really exciting. It’s only happened twice in school history, so it’s really special. …Once you see all these fans come out here, you really start to get a feel for this is the national championship. It’s starting to build a little bit,” defensive back Cole Karstetter said.
“You get those butterflies like you’re going to kindergarten. You dress well, you feel good, you’re in a new environment, you play a new team, another champion in this playoff year – 2018 our fourth,” Best added.