Big Sky week five is in the books and conference play has started! A few games this week were certainly eye openers for a couple teams, possibly in a good way or bad way. Depends who you’re rooting for. The top of the Big Sky is going to be an absolute race to the top with a few teams going to suffer some heart break. It will be a log jam all season. That’s good for the health of the conference, to have so many competitive teams.
Montana made the trip to warmer climates to take on UC-Davis. The Aggies were riding high in their saddles sitting at #4 in the rankings. After the third quarter was over the Aggies were no longer competitive in this football game. Montana scored 24 straight points to race out to a 38-7 lead and never looked back. Meanwhile, in Bozeman, Northern Arizona jumped out to a 21-0 lead and ended up losing 49-31. Not sure what NAU’s defense was doing, but the Cats ripped off 35 straight points and beat the plaid off the Lumberjacks. I thought getting rid of Jerome Souers would fix this mid-season NAU collapse thing, but apparently not.
In the pillow fight of the week Northern Colorado held on for dear life and beat Idaho after being down 24-10 in the third quarter. The Bears iced the game with a Ben Raybon field goal to pull ahead of the Vandals and get their first win of the season. Eastern Washington turned to the rushing attack, as we all predicted they would, and beat North Dakota in the snow. The Eagles ripped off 284 yards rushing and five scores. Three of those scores came from running back Antoine Custer Jr, who had 134 yards on the ground. Weber State did the conference good and handed Northern Iowa a loss in Ogden. Weber State led 27-3 halfway through the second quarter before Northern Iowa started mounting their comeback. A late Panther touchdown wasn’t enough to keep the momentum moving and Weber State sits in the driver’s seat for the auto-bid. Final game of the night featured Cal Poly beating Southern Utah in which Cal Poly rushed 72 times for 278 yards.
This weekend is a full slate of Big Sky football games. Idaho State will travel to Montana. UC-Davis will go to North Dakota again. Southern Utah and Portland State will play in the Big Sky pillow fight of the week. Weber State will head north to take on Idaho. Northern Colorado will go south to Flagstaff to face Northern Arizona. Montana State goes West to take on Cal Poly. In the night cap will be Eastern Washington locking horns with Sacramento State in a game that will be a must-win for the Eagles if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
UC Davis 20
Northern Colorado 27
Northern Arizona 31
Montana State 49
North Dakota 20
Eastern Washington 35
Portland State 24
Idaho State 51
Northern Iowa 17
Weber State 29
Cal Poly 24
Southern Utah 21
Big Sky Player of the Week
This week’s Big Sky player of the week is Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed. Sneed was 22/33 for 268 yards and five touchdowns, and also ran for 81 yards as the Griz beat UC Davis on the road 45-20.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Dalton Sneed, QB, Montana
Jake Meier, QB, UC Davis
Case Cookus, QB, Northern Arizona
Jeff Cotton, WR, Idaho
Ulonzo Gilliam, RB, UC Davis
Big Sky Power Rankings
The Quad Shot
Man, the bottom of the Big Sky Conference is an absolute dumpster fire. It’s actually a race to the bottom at this point. Which bad team can out-do the next bad team. Idaho coming off of a win over Eastern Washington, then loses to Northern Colorado? I mean, what has to happen for that to happen? Is Eastern Washington actually really bad? I saw Eric Barriere’s stats against North Dakota.. thinking he might be the reason EWU experiments with a triple option.
Montana beating up on UC Davis is a result I didn’t really see coming. The Griz have been somewhat of an unknown in my eyes. The defense is good, the offense is good, but the only team thus far that the Griz really struggled with is Oregon. Nice to see this game as a more accurate gauge of where the team is and where they might be headed. The Griz offense seems to have a lot of mouths to feed and not enough plays in the game to get them all fed. Good problem to have.
In reviewing my MVP picks there really isn’t anyone close to Dalton Sneed right now. Jake Meier had a chance to shine this weekend against a good team this weekend and he folded. He folded a little bit against NDSU as well, turning the ball over multiple times. These are the games that NFL scouts are going to pay attention to. Case Cookus is still a good quarterback, but the sputtering NAU offense and a terrible defense gave up a gift against Montana State. Jeff Cotton is a legit talent for Idaho, but as long as the Vandals keep being terrible then he’ll never be considered. Remember, I don’t really look at the defensive side of the balls in these, so please save your Dante Olson comments for someone who ranks those types of players.
I pondered this question on my Mountain West blog this week, but curious.. who are teams you actively root against every single week? For me it’s BYU, Florida State, Ohio State, Liberty, and North Dakota State. I have an explanation for every team on that list. I’ll save that for another day over beers. Who’s on your list?