Hello everyone! Welcome to week two of the Big Sky Conference football season and the first edition of my tongue-in-cheek recap of the previous week’s games. Nothing is off limits in this column, like how Sacramento State has an embargo with the endzone, Weber State not sending a team to Salt Lake City to play American football, and how Montana State is going to kick themselves for a while for losing a game they led pretty much the whole time. Let’s get started…
Starting the week off on a sour note was Sacramento State who was taking on Pac12 opponent Arizona State. The Hornets were playing their 2nd money game in a row, this time against a very talented Sun Devil squad. Taylor Kelly tossed a touchdown pass late in the 1st quarter for the Sun Devils first score and that’s all they’d need to beat the Hornets. Todd Graham doesn’t believe in taking his foot off the gas so he went ahead and scored 48 more points. The Hornets could do nothing offensively or defensively. The Hornets stumbled to 167 total yards offense and gave up a number much larger than that. The Hornets also committed four turnovers. The Hornets should manage to find the end zone this weekend as they take on division 2 opponent Southern Oregon in their home opener.
Embarrassing play on the football field continued in the next Big Sky game of the week as Weber State took a quick trip down I-15 to Salt Lake City to take on the Pac12’s Utah Utes. The Utes were looking to make an impact this year and want to rebound from a disappointing 2012 in the Pac12. However, they thought that beating up a middle-of-the-road Big Sky Conference team with a new coaching staff was the way to make a statement. The rolled out to a 56-0 lead before letting Weber on the board with a touchdown from Josh Booker. Utah responded with two more touchdowns. Weber had a difficult time rushing and throwing on the Utes, while the Utes had no problems running up more than 600 yards offense against the Wildcats. Weber running back Bo Bolen only managed 30 yards on the ground. This week could be even worse for the Wildcats as they take on Mr Charles F. Keeton and the Utah State Aggies in Logan. The Aggies recently defeated Air Force by a wide margin. At least the game is close by.
Speaking of embarrassing performances on the football field Northern Colorado was hosting their second consecutive division 2 opponent at home this week, Colorado State-Pueblo. Before you all string me up and tell me, “ERMEHGERD CSU-P IS SO GOOD! Top 5 D2 team, blah blah blah” let it be known… I really don’t care. Northern Colorado lost to a division 2 team.. AGAIN. The Thunderwolves, who happen to own one of my favorite nicknames ever, scored 28 points in the 2nd quarter on the Bears and never looked back. The bright spot for the Bears is Seth Lobato, who isn’t that bad of a quarterback, but lacks a few playmakers around him, tossed for 390 yards and 3 touchdowns, but also turned it over twice. The Bears and Thunderwolves played a lot of back and forth football, but a late TD run from Tromaine Dennis couldn’t get the Bears to victory over the D2 powerhouse. Life for the Bears won’t get any easier this week as they travel to the not as quite oxygenated Laramie to take on a high flying Cowboy offense, who just pounded Idaho at home.
In one of the better Big Sky performances this week was Portland State taking on California. The Vikings went toe to toe and punched the Golden Bears in the mouth several times in this game but couldn’t close it out, losing 37-30. Sophomore quarterback Kieran McDonagh threw for 308 yards and rushed for 60 more to put together an impressive game. Senior running back DJ Adams also ran for 139 yards and three scores. The Vikings had the lead in the third quarter, but 10 unanswered points later and the Golden Bears held on for their dear lives in the 4th quarter to pull out the win. The Vikes will host a second division 2 team this week as Humboldt State will step out of their perpetual cloud and into a football stadium on Saturday.
Idaho State flexed their muscles against Division 2 Dixie State this week in a rare blowout for the Bengals. Quarterback Justin Arias turned in a pretty good performance for the Bengals completing 29 passes and gaining 439 yards through the air, two of them touchdown strikes. Arias also scored on the ground on a 19 yard run. Who needs Roderick Rumble, anyways? Ha.. yeah, they’ll wish he was playing in a couple weeks. Next week the Bengals host another division 2 school Western State.
Quick tangent.. since when is it okay to schedule a pair of D2s in a season? I mean, really.. the Big Sky isn’t the SEC of FCS, is there just no other FCS team that will travel to the likes of Greeley, Pocatello, or Portland??
In a border war in the Dakotas, South Dakota State traveled up North to Grand Forks to take on the North Dakota [insert new nickname here]. This game looked like it was going to be a Jackrabbit blowout as they got up 28-7 early in the third quarter, but the [insert new nickname here] came storming back to get within 7 but couldn’t quite fight all the way back to tie it up. The [insert new nickname here] split between two quarterbacks, freshman Joe Mollberg and freshman Ryan Bartels. I’m led to believe the [insert new nickname here] have a quarterback controversy brewing. Also, if you’re going to play South Dakota State you have to keep an eye on running back Zach Zenner or he’ll run for 295 yards and three scores on your defense. North Dakota will host Montana this coming weekend who’s coming off of a bye.
Eastern Washington knows how to excite fans and they did just that by pasting 29 points on the scoreboard in the 1st quarter on their way to blowing up Western Oregon of division 2. Coming off of a victory at Oregon State in week 1 the high flying Eagles’ quarterback Vernon Adams turned in another solid performance by throwing for 5 touchdowns and 298 yards, while rushing for another 45. Adams is definitely the leader in the clubhouse so far this season for Big Sky player of the year. They’ll take on their second FBS opponent this week as they travel to Ohio to take on Toledo who has been beaten two consecutive weeks by SEC teams. I think another FBS upset is pretty likely.
In a game where Montana State led just about the entire way they’re going to wish they had this one back in more ways than one. The Bobcats were down early, 2-0 when Cody Kirk was hit in the endzone for a safety. From that point on the Bobcats never looked back.. until there was :12 seconds left in the game. The Bobcats turned in a good performance on the road against FBS opponent SMU but couldn’t quite seal the deal. The Cats’ Denarius McGhee threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, and Cody Kirk ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns but couldn’t muster a lot of offense in the 2nd half against June Jones’ run and shoot offense. Garrett Gilbert hit receiver Darius Joseph with :12 on the clock to put it away. After the game McGhee came up injured and an MRI revealed a separated shoulder and he’ll be out until mid to late October. The Cats will host division 2 Colorado Mesa next week.
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds were coming off of their own FBS win over newcomer South Alabama last week and this week hosted Big Sky kicking post Fort Lewis. The Thunderbirds raced out to a 42-0 lead at halftime and took their foot off the gas after that, only scoring once in the 2nd half. Quarterback Aaron Cantu was nearly perfect going 15 of 16 for 136 and four touchdowns. Quite the debut after taking over for Brad Sorensen who turned in an impressive career for Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds will put their team to the test as they head north to take on Washington State in Pullman, who is fresh off of a pillow fight with USC.
Things could have gone better for UC-Davis when they made a quick trip over to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack of Nevada. Cody Fajardo showed the Aggies why he is one of the top quarterbacks in the Mountain West. By the time halftime rolled around the Aggies were down 20-7, with their only score of the game coming from Jimmy Laughrea throwing a 23 yard strike to Tom Hemmingson right before halftime. The Wolf Pack took over from there and finished the game 36-7. Running back Manusamoa Luuga rushed for 81 yards, but couldn’t put one in the end zone. The Aggies will host Northern Arizona in their Big Sky opener.
In the final game of the night for the Big Sky Cal Poly took a short trip over to Fresno to take on the Bulldogs and Derek Carr. The Mustangs wish this game had gone better, but it was a combination of poor defense and special teams miscues that buried the Mustangs. Fresno scored on two special teams run-backs, and Derek Carr threw for 205 yards and 3 scores as the Bulldogs rolled, 41-25. Cal Poly scored most of their points in garbage time, long after the Fresno starters came out. The Mustangs will head to Fort Collins next to look for the next FBS upset, this time vs the Colorado State Rams.
That’s it for this week’s Big Sky recap, with a few patsies on the schedule we should see a few victories, and maybe a couple of FBS upsets for the Big Sky. Over in Grand Forks the Griz are hoping they can keep the UND passing attack in check this year, unlike last year’s disaster where the Griz defense gave up 660 yards passing in a losing effort to the [insert new nickname here].