Big Sky Preview 2015.8

BSC  Week 8 Preview

Kris Kallem & Lance Berndt, BSC  Contributors | October 22, 2015

Kris Says-

Eastern Washington @ Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado has already equaled their win total from the last two seasons, albeit against a weak schedule. In fact, the last time the Bears had a winning season was 2003. They will have something to play for the rest of the way and I expect them to throw everything they have at Eastern. Defensive End Mikhail Dubose is second in the conference with 8 tackles for loss and he compliments a decent pass defense that’s ranked in the middle of the Big Sky. I’d expect the Eagles to try and establish the run early with Jabari Wilson, and a now healthy Jalen Moore.

Southern Utah @ UC Davis
It will be interesting to see if Southern Utah can continue it’s recent dominance against the 1-6 Aggies. Thunderbirds new offensive coordinator, Justin Walterscheid, had a great debut last week as Southern Utah gained 570 yards in total offense. We know the defense is really good. If the Tbird offense can get even close to that kind of production the rest of the way, they’ll be playing in December. There is a bit of a trap game concern here as Davis knocked off NAU a few weeks ago after a big win, and Southern Utah finishes their schedule against 4 solid opponents. They might be looking ahead a little bit.

Idaho State @ Sacramento State
Sacramento State will have a true freshman in Nate Ketteringham making just his second start at Quarterback and Idaho State redshirt freshman Tanner Gueller will be making his first start. At least both quarterbacks will have experienced receivers to throw to as both defenses are porous, so this might actually be a fun game to watch.

Lance says-

ORV North Dakota @ #23 Montana
With minimal offense for both teams, this matchup was a defensive thriller last season ending with a game-winning field goal for Montana. With injuries for both teams at QB, this could once again be a very low scoring game. After playing three straight seasons in Grand Forks, I’m sure a lot of both the fans and the upperclassmen for the Griz will be glad to get UND on their home turf. After Weber had some success against the Montana run defense, John Santiago will be the guy for UND on offense. For the Grizzly offense, I think they just need to rely on the passing game. Teams just don’t have success on the ground against North Dakota. It’s simply something that hasn’t happened all season. Either way, this is a big game for both team’s playoff and conference hopes. Loser will have to start rebuilding towards next season.

East Tennessee State @ #25 Montana State
A few years back, I remember being consistently disappointed with both Montana and Montana State’s non-conference schedule. At least now, Montana’s has improved, but the Bobcats continue to disappoint. First they played D2 Fort Lewis, and now they play East Tennessee State, a team with virtually a junior college roster considering this is their first season playing and the roster is almost all freshmen. This one is guaranteed to be a snoozer. These types of games are sometimes beneficial at the start of the season just to get guys on the field, but in the middle they are useless for just about everyone. If the Bobcats don’t win by over 40, I’ll be very surprised.

ORV Weber State @ Northern Arizona
A couple weeks ago, Northern Arizona looked to be the clear favorite when these two met up, but now it’s looking like Weber might have the slight edge. Still, I think too many people are counting out NAU too early. They are still a strong team with a very balanced offense and capable defense. Plus, they’ve shown they’re much better at home than on the road. The Wildcats are on a roll, though, coming off a big win in Missoula and an exciting comeback win against UND. They’ve won 4 out of 5 and still have hope for both a playoff bid and a conference title. If Weber can pull this off, they might be just an Eastern Washington upset away from pulling off both goals. The defense needs to step up to win on the road, so I think Emmett Tela is the key player for the Wildcats. For Northern Arizona, look to running back Casey Jahn. If he can have the success that John Santiago did against Weber’s defense, it will only fuel their high powered offense.

#9 Portland State @ ORV Cal Poly
This is a big one. My pick for game of the week. Cal Poly had two weeks to lick their wounds and rest up for their last ditch effort to sneak into the playoffs. They have five games left and need to win all five to have a shot. First up is Portland State, who is playing some of the best football they have played since the turn of the century. The Vikings looked strong on defense to start the season and now they have just obliterated teams offensively the last two weeks. Fans who like to see offenses air it out need not attend this game. It’d be reaching to say there will be 25 combined passing attempts. Cal Poly leads the country in rushing yards per game and Portland State is just behind in sixth. The Vikings attack is led by a balanced backfield with David Jones, Steven Long, Nate Tago, and Paris Penn all likely to contribute along with QB Alex Kuresa. The Mustangs have QB Chris Brown, inside runner Joe Protheroe and outside man Kori Garcia as the lead players in their triple option attack. The big question is which defense will make enough plays to win this game?

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