Rich Wright called his shot on Saturday.
Following a convincing 45-23 win over Central Missouri, the third-year Northwest Missouri State head coach felt confident in his team's chances to host a playoff game at Bearcat Stadium. Only three times have come into Maryville and won a playoff game, and none have since 2002.
Harding will get the honor at noon Saturday, as the Bearcats were selected as the No. 3 seed in Super Region Three during Sunday's NCAA Division II Football Championship Selection Show.
"I was excited to get the three seed," Wright said. "I thought after the way we played down the stretch we deserved that and our conference deserves that."
Ferris State (Mich.) earned the region's top seed and will get a first-round bye with home-field advantage throughout.
No. 2 seed Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) will host Lindenwood, while No. 4 Central Missouri will welcome in UIndy.
Since losing to Nebraska-Kearney, Northwest (10-1) rallied off four straight wins in impressive fashion to end the season, including a win at then-7-2 Fort Hays State and at home against previously unbeaten UCM in the finale.
"We played our way into this," Wright said. "We didn't lose our last couple games, and both were pretty big games. Both were playoff-caliber opponents."
Northwest pushed its way not only back into the playoff picture but all the way into the top four, earning a first-round home game. Northwest has lost just three home playoff games all-time and is unbeaten at Bearcat Stadium in the playoffs since 2002.
"A home game's huge," Northwest senior Ryan Spelhaug said. "We haven't had a playoff game here since '16. When the playoffs are here, it's a special environment.
The last string of home playoff games, on the way to the program's record sixth title, saw Northwest down Harding. They replicated a 2012 performance against the Arkansas school, winning 25-0.
The Bearcats will appear in a record 24th playoff and 16th straight.
"That's our first goal. It's winning the conference championship and making the playoffs. Being able to check those off and get them on the board, that's huge," Spelhaug said.
Northwest, 48-17 all-time in the playoffs, has played in 10 national championships and ranks No. 1 with a .738 winning percentage in the playoffs. Their 48 wins are 13 more than any other Division II program.
But in order for the Bearcats to remain in Maryville for Thanksgiving and spend the holiday together, they must take care of the Bison as they have twice before, and continue growing their national playoff record margins.
"Now we've gotta take our next step," Spelhaug said.