The Big Sky got a big win this week in the week three edition of the season. Idaho State took a trip to Reno and beat the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday night 30-28.
This could be the biggest win Idaho State has had in quite some time. First year head coach Rob Phenecie had his team ready to play as they had a 23-7 lead at the half. Nevada had a furious comeback in the 4th quarter but missed a two point conversion on their last touchdown that would have tied the game. Tanner Gueller had 269 yards passing and two touchdowns. Michael Dean caught 133 yards of those passes and one score for the Bengals. Mario Jenkins checked in with 17 tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss. The Bengals will be on the road against Northern Colorado next week.
In other Big Sky action the Eastern Washington Eagles went on the road to New York and took on Fordham. The Eagles had little problem taking care of the Rams, beating them 56-21. Gage Gabrud earned Big Sky Player of the Week honors with his performance. He threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles. Eastern Washington got a desperately needed win after starting the season 0-2. They will travel to Missoula to take on Montana next week.
Speaking of Montana the Grizzlies took on MEAC opponent Savannah State. The Tigers, coming from Georgia had a pretty weird week with Hurricane Irma rolling through Georgia the previous week. The Tigers were forced into temporary housing during the storm. As they flew into Montana the airport in Missoula was fogged in and they were re-routed two and a half hours north to Kalispell. After all of that they came to Missoula and were beat by 53 points. It wasn’t all roses for the Griz though, as they lost starting quarterback Reese Phillips for the season with a broken leg.
Northern Colorado played a tight game against the Colorado Buffaloes this past weekend. The traveling Bears lost 41-21 to the Buffs. Seems like a win for the Bears who normally don’t fare as well in these contests. Jacob Knipp threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns, while Trae Riek rushed for 59 yards. Alex Wesley caught 102 yards of passes and two touchdowns for the Bears.
In somewhat of a shocker the Missouri Valley Conference got another one over the Big Sky with South Dakota demolishing North Dakota this past weekend. The Coyotes cruised into halftime with a 31-0 lead and never looked back from there. John Santiago managed to get 85 yards, but it was all Coyotes from there. Coyote quarterback Chris Streveler threw for 290 yards and a score, but 285 yards on the ground are what propelled South Dakota. North Dakota drops to 1-2 on the season after starting the season as one of the favorites in the Big Sky.
The Big Sky did manage to win one of the MVC challenge games as Southern Utah was able to defeat Northern Iowa this weekend in Cedar City. It wasn’t a particularly pretty game for the Thunderbirds, but their defense came through and put the game away on a Jalen Russel interception. Manny Berz kicked the game winner with 1:50 left from 26 yards out and shut the door on Northern Iowa.
In the night cap Weber State defeated Sacramento State. Folks, if you enjoy a game of strange scoring, this is your game. Weber State scored on a blocked punt, Sacramento State scored on an interception return, and apparently Weber State has no faith in their kicker because they attempted three two point conversions on their first three scores. Remember coaches, kickers are people too.
Coming up this week we’ll see Eastern Washington and Montana lock horns in Missoula in a battle for Big Sky supremacy. Idaho State will be taking on Northern Colorado. Montana State will head across the border to take on North Dakota. UC-Davis is headed to Weber State to take on the Wildcats. Southern Utah will head to Sacramento State. In the late kickoff Northern Arizona will take on Cal Poly.
Savannah State 3
Eastern Washington 56
Northern Colorado 21
North Dakota 7
South Dakota 45
UC Davis 37
Portland State 14
Idaho State 30
Northern Iowa 21
Southern Utah 24
Weber State 31
Sacramento State 24
Big Sky Player of the Week
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington. Gabrud was 29/41 for 399 yards and three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions in the Eagles’ victory over Fordham this past weekend.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – 29/41 399 yards 3 TD 2 INT
Cole Reyes, LB, North Dakota – 8 tackles
Joe Protheroe, RB, Cal Poly – Idle
Emmanuel Butler, WR, Northern Arizona – Idle
John Santiago, RB, North Dakota – 12 carries, 85 yards.
Big Sky Power Rankings
1. Eastern Washington
2. Weber State
3. North Dakota
5. Southern Utah
6. Idaho State
7. Northern Arizona
8. Northern Colorado
9. UC Davis
10. Montana State
11. Cal Poly
12. Portland State
13. Sacramento State
Final Thoughts and Hot Takes
Big win for Idaho State, might be one of the biggest in the Big Sky this season. Nevada’s not a great team, as they have no quarterback, but a good win for first year coach Rob Phenecie.
Big loss for North Dakota who was beaten out of the building on Saturday. Not sure I’ve seen a Coyotes team this good in the time I’ve been paying attention to FCS football. South Dakota has only finished over .500 twice since 2005, one of the best seasons in their program’s history.
Big game in Missoula this weekend. Hard to get a read on either team has both have been beaten pretty handily by FBS teams. Montana has beaten two pretty bad FCS teams. Eastern Washington has beaten what looked like a good FCS team in preseason polls, but now Fordham has dropped to 0-3.
Gage Gabrud might be the best player in the Big Sky this season. Not sure if anyone will catch him or not for player of the year.
Cal Poly received four votes in this week’s top 25. They are currently 0-3 and just came off of a bye week. Anyone care to explain how something like this happens?
Good win for Southern Utah. The conference, as well as the Thunderbirds, needed a win against Northern Iowa.