Is there going to be any Big Sky team going to finish over .500 this season? The fourth week of the Big Sky football slate has provided absolutely no clarity into who the best team might be. This is a freight train headed to disastersville at this point.
At this point last week we thought Idaho State was going to be a good football team, but this week happened. North Dakota, one of the preseason favorites, is in a complete tailspin after injuries have hit pretty much on their team, including their water boy (presumably). Southern Utah looked good in a win vs Northern Iowa, then got blown out by the worst team in the conference. Up is down, Big Sky football happens.
Idaho State and Northern Colorado found themselves in a track meet this past weekend. Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp played virtually flawless, throwing for 413 yards and completing 19/25 passes and four touchdowns. That was juuuuuuust enough to beat Idaho State. The Bengals got 253 yards rushing from James Madison (not the school, nor the president) and two touchdowns. The Bears survived a furious fourth quarter comeback from the Bengals when Collin Root hit a 37 yard field goal as time expired to win it for the Bears. Northern Colorado will be headed to Northern Arizona, and Idaho State will be hosting Cal Poly.
Montana State took a trip across the Eastern border to take on North Dakota in the illustrious Alerus Center to take on the all-injured reserve team, North Dakota. Montana State quarterback Chris Murray had a good day for the Bobcats, going 15/19 for 174 yards and three touchdowns, and rushing for 132 yards and a score. The Cats also got 131 yards and two scores from running back Troy Anderson. North Dakota, meanwhile, struggled all day against the Cats. The Fighting Hawks (?) two big running backs Brady Oliveira and John Santiago combined for 13 carries for 58 yards. Not a good recipe for winning football games. Montana State will host Weber State, while North Dakota will travel to UC-Davis.
Speaking of UC-Davis, they got blown out by Weber State. UC-Davis scored on their first drive with a 24 yard field goal from Max O’Rourke. After that Weber State scored 41 unanswered points. Stefan Cantwell had an efficient day for the Wildcats, going 7/11 for 205 yards and three scores. Treshawn Garrett added 122 yards rushing and a touchdown. Aggies quarterback Jake Maier threw for 327 yards, but had a pair of turnovers. Collectively the Aggies rushed for 13 yards. Maier led all rushers in lost yards with -45. Weber State will be in Bozeman to take on Montana State, UC-Davis will host North Dakota.
Southern Utah was fresh off of a win over MVFC opponent Northern Iowa then made the trip to Sacramento State to take on the Hornets. Southern Utah got a taste of humble pie as they were soundly beaten by the Hornets in front of dozens of people. Sacramento State quarterback Kevin Thomson had 409 yards and seven touchdowns to lead everyone in scoring, rushing, passing, etc. Southern Utah kept is close after one quarter, but Kevin Thomson poured it on in the second quarter and the Hornets never looked back. Thunderbird running back James Felila tried to make it interesting in the fourth quarter, but the T-Birds were met with a couple more Thomson scores instead. Southern Utah will have a bye week, Sacramento State will head to Eastern Washington.
Eastern Washington and Montana played their annual “score all the points” game and this one surely didn’t disappoint. The Griz jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead, but Gage Gabrud had other thoughts for the finish of the game. Eastern Washington scored 42 second half points to get past the Griz 48-41. Gabrud had 549 yards passing and four touchdowns for the Eagles. Montana quarterback Gresch Jensen, the redshirt freshman making his first collegiate start, had 358 yards and two touchdowns, while adding a rushing touchdown. Montana will head to Portland State, Eastern Washington will host Sacramento State.
Just when we thought Northern Arizona would be left for dead they come back and take down a team that might legitimately by dead.. Cal Poly. Case Cookus turned in a fine performance throwing for 406 yards and four touchdowns. Elijah Marks caught 206 yards of those passes and a pair of scores. Cal Poly, who is now without running back Joe Protheroe, is making more than due with running back Jared Mohamed who had 124 yards. Cal Poly will head to Idaho State, Northern Arizona will host Northern Colorado.
Idaho State 42
Northern Colorado 43
Montana State 49
North Dakota 21
UC Davis 3
Weber State 41
Southern Utah 27
Sacramento State 54
Eastern Washington 48
Northern Arizona 28
Cal Poly 10
Big Sky Player of the Week
This week’s Big Sky player of the week is Sacramento State quarterback Kevin Thomson. Thomson was 14/26 for 253 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushed for 149 yards and four touchdowns as the Hornets defeated Southern Utah on Saturday.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – 44/65 for 549, 4 TD, 1 INT
Cole Reyes, LB, North Dakota – 2 tackles
Tanner Gueller, QB, Idaho State – 15/24 for 264 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – 14 rec, 206 yards, 2 TD
Big Sky Power Rankings
1. Eastern Washington
2. Weber State
3. Northern Colorado
4. Montana State
6. Idaho State
7. Northern Arizona
8. North Dakota
9. Southern Utah
10. UC Davis
11. Sacramento State
12. Portland State
13. Cal Poly
Final Thoughts and Hot Takes
Interesting to see Cal Poly at the bottom of the Big Sky. Has that ever happened before? Not in my recent memory, that’s for sure. What an interesting trip to the bottom.
That spot is usually held by Sacramento State.
Montana needs to figure its defensive problems out in a hurry. Can’t be giving up 42 points in a half and win football games. Scoring 41 points should be enough to win you most football games. Gotta be in a good position to win.
However, 41 points may not win you a lot of games in the Big 12.
Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado might be a fun game if both offenses are humming. Could be a classic Big Sky football game. No defense.
No offense to the defenses out there.
That was a good pun.
Too bad about Emmanuel Butler being out for the season, he’s one of the Big Sky’s best receiver, maybe the best one. Northern Arizona won’t be better without him. Elijah Marks will try like hell to fill that void, but having both of them active is NAUs only chance at survival.
Interesting to see Southern Utah get blown out by a typically hapless Sacramento State. They had such a good week last week, then just get blown completely out. Did I miss something in this game, or this just more wacky Big Sky stuff we’ll never understand?
In the same token, after Idaho State gets top 25 votes for beating Nevada, they were beaten Northern Colorado in a wild shootout. No wonder the Big Sky is so woefully represented in the top 25 every week, no one really gets a head in this conference.