Big Sky Preview 2015.11

BSC  Week 11 Preview

Kris Kallem & Lance Berndt, BSC  Contributors | November 12, 2015

Kris Says-

Northern Colorado @ North Dakota
Both teams have an outside shot at a playoff birth but Northern Colorado is the least likely with a Division II win on the schedule. North Dakota is 1st in the conference against the run and John Santiago is leading the conference in rushing yards per game. This doesn’t bode well for a Bears defense that is giving up an average of 208 yards on the ground. Northern Colorado does lead the nation in kickoff and punt returns and I think they’ll need to have success there and force a few takeaways against a turnover prone UND to pull out the win.

Montana State @ Idaho State
Montana State has really struggled on defense but Idaho State might even be worse, ranking dead last in the Big Sky against the run at 270 yards per game. The Bengals are also last in turnover margin at a whopping -18. One bright spot has been the secondary which has played well, but I don’t think that will be enough to keep up with the Bobcats.

Sacramento State @ Northern Arizona
An obvious trap game here with Southern Utah coming up for NAU. The Jack’s play great in the dome though and Sacramento has nothing left to play for. Keep an eye on Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus. He’s still leading the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown 27 touchdowns against only 3 picks. Cookus has a real shot at winning the Jerry Rice Award this year.

Lance says-

#16 Eastern Washington @ ORV Montana
This is usually a bigger game when it comes to rankings and records, but this will still go far in deciding both the conference champ and also potential at-large playoff bids. Eastern Washington has been on a slide as of late. A miracle field goal saved them from a loss against Northern Colorado, the wind saved them from a loss against Weber State, and this past weekend they got blown out by Northern Arizona. Montana has also struggled lately. Ever since their dominating win over North Dakota, it’s been clear that they don’t have the same passing pedigree that they had at the start of the season. In the last two games, Makena Simis has been just 38-75 with 4 interceptions while only amassing 303 yards and zero TDs. The Eagles have owned the Griz the last few seasons winning 5 out of the last 6 matchups. With both teams struggling to stay consistent on offense the last couple weeks, it’s tough to predict who is going to show up. We know they both have the potential to put things together and play great, but neither has shown that recently. I think Montana needs to look to RB Jeremy Calhoun and QB Simis to continue their recent rushing successes in order to keep the Eagles offense off the field. Otherwise, this could be a runaway win for Eastern Washington.

Cal Poly @ UC-Davis
It’s been a tough season for all three Big Sky teams from California. Including last week’s matchup between Cal Poly and Sacramento State, they all get to play each other to finish the season. The Mustangs have a chance to finish the California sweep with a win over the Aggies. Even though UC-Davis has struggled in comparison to Cal Poly the last few seasons, they have actually won 4 of the last 6 matchups. This includes last season’s surprising two touchdown win which ended a 7 game UC-Davis losing streak, while also being the loss that kept Cal Poly out of the playoffs. When it comes down to it, though, UC-Davis just doesn’t matchup very well with the Mustangs this season. Cal Poly should run away with this one by at least 24 points.

#11 Southern Utah @ #9 Portland State
The Big Sky conference has seen numerous late season games between two top 15 opponents, but no one could have predicted that these two teams would be playing in that matchup this season, or any season for that matter. Since starting the season with two losses to Utah State and South Dakota State, Southern Utah has been on a tear winning their last 7 games by an average of 42-11. Portland State had been looking to be at the elite level, but then a 32-35 loss to Northern Colorado brought them back down to earth. Both teams have a very tough schedule to finish the season, but both are in the heart of both the conference title race and a shot at a playoff bid. Southern Utah has been imposing their defense on teams, while Portland State has developed a very tough offense. Usually the defense wins in those battles, but the Vikings have the home field advantage and are coming off a tough road loss. Key for Southern Utah will be their run defense led by James Cowser, Mike Needham, and Miles Killebrew. For Portland State, it will be QB Alex Kuresa and their wide receiver corps. If the T-Birds can slow the Vikings up front, Kuresa will look to the air. All in all, it should be a great game in Portland.


2:00 PM Northern Colorado @ North Dakota MidCo Sports Network
3:05 PM Eastern Washington @ Montana Root Sports
3:35 PM Montana State @ Idaho State Cowles Company
5:00 PM Cal Poly @ UC Davis
5:00 PM Sacramento State @ Northern Arizona FOX Sports Arizona
5:05 PM Southern Utah @ Portland State

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