The Big Sky season didn’t get any clearer this past weekend as there is a crush of teams at the top of the conference trying to secure the autobid to the playoffs as the season enters the second half. North Dakota kept their undefeated record in conference play intact by taking down Southern Utah in Grand Forks over the weekend. The Fighting Hawks are now 4-0 in conference play. The Hawks used a balanced attack to beat the Thunderbirds who struggled to get anything going on the ground against UND’s talented defense.
Montana took advantage of having Sacramento State in town and decided to put up 68 points on them in Missoula. Montana won their past two games by a combined 135-14. Sacramento State broke Montana’s point streak in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. Prior to that the Griz had rolled off 129 consecutive points without giving up a score. Montana currently ranks in the top 15 in total offense and total defense. This is setting up a great football game in Cheney later this month.
Northern Colorado had a slip-up this week in their quest to finish near the top of the Big Sky standings by stumbling against previous winless (in conference) UC-Davis. UC-Davis, prior to that game, had only one win on the season. Needless to say, the Bears offense suffered a power outage when they switched time zones. Northern Arizona turned in a good ball game against Idaho State this past weekend. The Lumberjacks let the ball fly for 319 yards from back-up Blake Kemp and put up 52 points on the hapless Idaho State Bengals. Weber State continued their undefeated play in conference by taking down the even more hapless Montana State Bobcats.
Sacramento State 7
Southern Utah 23
North Dakota 45
Montana State 27
Weber State 45
Cal Poly 55
Portland State 35
Northern Colorado 21
Idaho State 7
Northern Arizona 52
Big Sky Player of the Week
Blake Kemp, Northern Arizona. Kemp was 23/37 for 319 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in the Lumberjacks’ win over Idaho State on Saturday.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington. Idle.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington. Idle.
Emmanual Butler, WR, Northern Arizona. 6 receptions, 88 yards, two touchdowns.
Joe Protheroe, RB, Cal Poly. 16 carries, 101 yards, two touchdowns.
Caleb Kidder, LB, Montana. 7 tackles, 3 TFL, 2.5 sacks.
Big Sky Power Rankings
1. Eastern Washington
3. North Dakota
4. Cal Poly
5. Weber State
6. Southern Utah
7. Northern Arizona
8. Northern Colorado
9. Portland State
11. Idaho State
12. Sacramento State
13. Montana State
Looking Ahead to Week 8
The Big Sky week 8 schedule starts off with Eastern Washington taking on Montana State in Bozeman. Sacramento State will head to Greeley to take on Northern Colorado. North Dakota will head across the mountain to take on Idaho State in Pocatello. Weber State will make the trip down I-15 to take on Southern Utah. Montana will head south to Flagstaff to take on Northern Arizona. To cap off the weekend the Cal Poly will host UC-Davis.
Final Thoughts and Hot Takes
– Jeff Choate has to be feeling a little fire under his seat already in Bozeman. Yes, he’s new on the job and is rebuilding his roster, but man.. the Cats haven’t even looked competitive this year.
– Just think of the awful things Eastern Washington is going to do to that Montana State defense. Going to be a blood bath in Bozeman this week.
– Pillow fight of the week gonna be in Greeley this week with Sac State and Northern Colorado. Can’t decide if the Bears are coming back to Earth or if they had a complete mental lapse against UC-Davis.
– Montana and Northern Arizona could result in a broken scoreboard the way both teams have scored points in the last week or so. If Montana’s defense can shut down the NAU passing attack only half of it may break.
– Weber State and Southern Utah should be a pretty good game, and pretty under the radar. Southern Utah is undoubtedly angry about that North Dakota loss and Weber is rolling through conference opponents right now. Should be a fun one in Cedar City.
– Portland State mercifully has this week off.
– North Dakota’s assault on the bottom of the conference continues this week with Idaho State. Only one game left on their schedule that presents any kind of challenge, in my eyes, and that’s their final game of the season at home against Northern Arizona.