The final week of the regular season is here and we’re onto the playoffs. The last week of the regular season didn’t do anything too surprising.. unless you live in Missoula. Top ranked Eastern Washington survived a near scare on Friday night by holding off a pesky Portland State team who was determined to beat the Eagles. However, in true Eastern fashion they put up more points than Portland and won. The Eagles, however, played much of the game without star receiver Cooper Kupp who ended the game in a sling on the sideline with a shoulder injury.
In the annual Brawl of the Wild Montana State’s young quarterback Chris Murray came to Missoula ready to play and took the game over with his feet in an impressive performance to defeat Montana 24-17. Murray had 142 yards and two scores for the Bobcats. Southern Utah knocked down the Big Sky’s hottest team by 27 points in Flagstaff on Saturday. Southern Utah quarterback Patrick Tyler took over the game with 278 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Thunderbirds to a win.
UC-Davis won their rivalry game, the Causeway Classic, over Sacramento State 48-30 in Davis. Davis quarterback Ben Scott threw for 292 yards and five touchdowns, while Manusamoa Luuga rushed for 249 yards and one score. Davis receiver Keelan Doss finished with 207 yards and four touchdowns for the Aggies. Weber State escaped Pocatello with a win over the Bengals. The win pushed the Wildcats into the playoffs. In the finale of the week Cal Poly and Northern Colorado engaged in a track meet. The teams combined for 1198 total yards and 103 points and in the end Cal Poly punched their ticket to the playoffs.
Speaking of playoffs, they start this weekend! The only two Big Sky teams in action are Weber State and Cal Poly. Weber will hit the road to take on Chattanooga. The Mocs are coming off of a tough game against Alabama, whom they were leading 3-0 after one quarter. Cal Poly will host Pioneer League champion San Diego for the second time this season. The Mustangs won the previous meeting 38-16 back in September. The Toreros defeated Campbell in their regular season finale. North Dakota and Eastern Washington earned bye’s for the first round.
Eastern Washington 35
Portland State 28
Montana State 24
Southern Utah 48
Northern Arizona 21
Sacramento State 30
Weber State 34
Idaho State 28
Northern Colorado 48
Cal Poly 55
Big Sky Player of the Week
This week’s Big Sky player of the week is Manusamoa Luuga of UC-Davis. Luuga rushed for 249 yards in a win vs Sacramento State.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington. 24/41, 304 yards, 3 touchdown. 10 rushes, 42 yards.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington. 6 receptions, 67 yards.
Joe Protheroe, RB, Cal Poly. 24 carries, 110 yards, 1 touchdown. 1 reception, 38 yards.
Big Sky Power Rankings
1. Eastern Washington.
2. North Dakota
3. Cal Poly
4. Weber State
5. Northern Arizona
6. Northern Colorado
8. Southern Utah
9. Montana State
10. Portland State
11. Idaho State
13. Sacramento State
Looking Ahead to the Playoffs
Weber State will travel to Tennessee to take on Chattanooga. Cal Poly will be hosting San Diego for the second time this season. Both games can be seen on ESPN3 this weekend. Eastern Washington will host the winner of Central Arkansas and Illinois State in the second round. North Dakota will host the winner of Richmond and North Carolina A&T in the second round. Weber State, with a win, would face Sam Houston State. Cal Poly would face North Dakota State with a win.
Final Thoughts and Hot Takes
– Early prediction: North Dakota State and Eastern Washington lock horns in Frisco.
– Weber State has a tough draw. That Chattanooga team is better than their seed. A couple of late losses in the season sunk them from being a seeded team.
– A 6-5 team made the playoffs for the second straight year. This time it was Illinois State. I haven’t done a ton of research on their team, but that’s an odd one to me.
– I have a feeling Sam Houston could be in for a long day if Chattanooga comes to town.
– I’m really curious about North Carolina A&T. I’ve wondered how good they actually are all season long, I guess this weekend we’ll see as they take on Richmond.
– And since it’s the last week of the regular season it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t take a shot at North Dakota. Way to go scheduling a bye for the second week in a row.