Big Sky Preview 2015.9

BSC  Week 9 Preview

Kris Kallem & Lance Berndt, BSC  Contributors | October 29, 2015

Kris Says-

Weber State @ Eastern Washington
The wildcats finish the season at home against UC Davis and Idaho State. If they were to pull off the upset in Cheney, they’d stand a really good chance of finishing 7-4, with quality road wins over Eastern, and Montana. In other words, Weber State is likely playing for a playoff birth this weekend, and will be highly motivated. Eastern Washington still needs to prove they can be consistent in all three phases of the game, and put opponents away. The weather forecast is for wind and rain which certainly favors Weber State.

Northern Colorado @ Northern Arizona
It’s a battle of 4-3 squads with two more Big Sky teams fighting for their playoff lives. This game showcases two young and talented freshman quarterbacks. I was very impressed with the composure of Northern Colorado’s Jacob Knipp last week, leading his team on two late scoring drives to take a lead. For the Lumberjacks, Case Cookus is leading the conference in passer rating, and is a legit contender for the Jerry Rice award. Northern Colorado has been dynamite on specials teams returning two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns this season. UNC is also 4th in the conference in 3rd down conversion percentage at 43.2 while the Lumberjacks are dead last, at 30.4. That’s an important stat and one that might find the Bears staying in this game until the end.

Lance says-

#25 Montana State @ North Dakota
It’s now or never for the Bobcats as they likely need to win their last 4 games to have a shot at the playoffs. First up is a road game against a team they have had a lot of success against the last three years. Since UND joined the Big Sky, Montana State has won the three matchups by an average score of 49-16. Both teams come into this game having struggled on defense as of late. With Montana State’s electrifying offense, UND will have to consistently put points on the board to keep the game close. It’s very likely that Montana State will follow the formula set forth by both Idaho State and Montana to win against UND. Spreading things out and throwing the ball deep helps make UND’s solid defense look a lot weaker. Freshman sensation North Dakota running back John Santiago may need to have the game of his life. My guess is Montana State starts some momentum with a two touchdown win.

ORV Cal Poly @ #17 Southern Utah
The Thunderbirds have taken great advantage of a pretty weak October schedule with some dominating wins on both the offensive and defensive side. Now, they start a stretch run towards the conference championship and playoff berth with the always tough Cal Poly Mustangs. The big question for the Mustangs will be if Chris Brown will be back from injury at QB. If not, Khaleel Jackson showed last weekend that they are still in capable hands. Southern Utah has been nothing short of dominant in their first 4 Big Sky games allowing an average of less than 3 points per game. Cal Poly’s triple option offense is a completely different animal, though, spreading the field and forcing teams to guard both the middle and the outside every play. I think this game will come down to the matchup of Southern Utah’s offense against Cal Poly’s defense. QB Ammon Olsen has been great in recent games and found success last season against the Mustangs throwing for 403 yards and 3 TDs. If he can find that magic again, the T-Birds should come away with the big home win.

#20 Montana @ #5 Portland State
There are at least 4 great matchups in the conference this weekend, and this could be the best of them all. It has been a long long time since these two played where Portland State was the favorite to win. The Vikings have been firing on all cylinders since their loss to UND. They have proven to be able to win with their defense, their rushing offense, and their passing offense as well. Montana, on the other hand, has been back and forth all season. Even though they do have their third string quarterback playing because of injury, he did find great success against UND and will have a good amount of confidence coming into his first ever road game. I think Montana’s biggest need in this game is to be able to stop Portland State’s running game. They struggled in that category against both UND and Weber State. Portland State has proven to have a very strong rushing attack, and if the Griz can’t make stops, this should be a runaway win for the Vikings. Montana’s very balanced linebacker corps will need to have their best game of the season for the Griz to come away with the win.

2:00:00 PM Montana State @ North Dakota Lance
3:05:00 PM Weber State @ Eastern Washington Kris
5:00:00 PM Cal Poly @ Southern Utah Lance
5:00:00 PM Montana @ Portland State Lance
5:00:00 PM Northern Colorado @ Northern Arizona Kris

All TV Listings For Wk. 9 Here

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