Week 10 is now completed in Big Sky Conference play and there are two teams left standing at the top of the conference and we’re no closer to deciding a champion. The picture could become clearer this weekend with North Dakota hosting a red hot Northern Arizona team. Depending on the result of that game we could see Eastern Washington heading into the final week of the season with the conference lead. Yes, Idaho State fans, I’m saying you probably have no chance of beating Eastern Washington on the road this week.
Eastern Washington continued their dominance of the Big Sky by taking down a tough Cal Poly team on the road. That was a big hurdle for the Eagles to clear on their path to the top of the Big Sky. Poly got big games from Dano Graves and Joe Protheroe, however, the Mustangs discovered that slowing down the Eastern Washington offense is an exercise in futility.
Northern Arizona continued to end their season on a high note by dispatching a talented Weber State team on the road. The Lumberjacks got up on the Wildcats early and didn’t quit piling on points after that. If only Northern Arizona hadn’t had such a collapse to start the season. After getting off to a slightly slow start Southern Utah put it together and put up a lot of points on a pretty helpless Montana State team. Montana State quarterback Chris Murray accounted for three touchdown.. but also three turnovers. The Cats rushed for 214 yards on the Thunderbirds but that doesn’t matter when you lost by 17 points.
To wrap up the weekend Montana and Idaho State had a track meet in Missoula. For much of the game it felt like the first to 80 was going to be the winner. Neither team made it to 80, but if you like offense there was plenty of that! Chad Chalich threw for a Montana record seven touchdowns, and rushed for one other. He was in for started Brady Gustafson who was injured. Portland State quickly dispatched UC-Davis in the Big Sky pillow fight of the week.
Montana State 21
Southern Utah 38
Northern Arizona 33
Weber State 20
North Dakota 23
Northern Colorado 13
Portland State 51
Idaho State 44
Eastern Washington 42
Cal Poly 21
Big Sky Player of the Week
Chad Chalich, quarterback, Montana. Chalich was 21-27 for 388 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 52 yards and one touchdown as the Griz defeated Idaho State this past weekend in relief of the injured Brady Gustafson.
Big Sky MVP Candidates
Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington. 27/37, 357 yards, 4 touchdowns. 40 yards rushing.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington. 11 receptions, 154 yards, 1 touchdown.
Emmanuel Butler, WR, Northern Arizona. 9 receptions, 157 yards.
Joe Protheroe, RB, Cal Poly. 23 carries, 116 yards, 1 touchdown.
Big Sky Power Rankings
1. Eastern Washington
2. North Dakota
3. Cal Poly
4. Northern Arizona
6. Weber State
7. Southern Utah
8. Northern Colorado
9. Portland State
10. Idaho State
12. Sacramento State
13. Montana State
Looking Ahead to Week 11
Three games have noon kickoffs this week, if you live in the Mountain time zone. Montana will travel to Greeley to take on Northern Colorado. Northern Arizona will make the long trip north to take on North Dakota in what should be the Big Sky game of the week. Cal Poly will head to Utah to take on Weber State. Southern Utah will cruise up the interstate to take on BYU in Provo. Idaho State will head to Cheney to take on Eastern Washington. To cap the week Portland State will bus down to Sacramento to take on the Hornets.
Final Thoughts and Hot Takes
– In my eyes the MVP race is down to two candidates, Gage Gabrud and Cooper Kupp. I have no idea who would win between those two, but I feel like Kupp might have the edge in that race.
– North Dakota and Northern Arizona could be a lot of fun next weekend. Northern Arizona is streaking, and North Dakota just wants a shot at the Big Sky auto-bid.
– At this point it’s probably safe to say that Montana, Weber State, and Cal Poly are probably out of the running for the Big Sky title. #analysis
– This is a historically bad Montana State team we’re seeing. They just aren’t doing anything right. Chris Murray has had some bright spots, but he’s got some learnin’ to do.
– Montana should get that defense thing ironed out, the last three weeks have been pretty bad. They went from being one of the top defenses in FCS to … well, not that caliber anymore.
– Then again, this is the Big Sky conference. Pretty much every team needs to fix their defense. Perhaps it would be appropriate if the pie in the sky dream of reviving the WAC would include mostly Big Sky teams. It’d return the WAC to its roots.
– North Dakota fans.. don’t worry, I hate your team equally as much as the rest.
– Except Montana. [heart emoji]