Few teams had as big of a letdown this week as one particular team from Utah. We had a brain-on-brain game in Southern California. Overall, this week sucked hard for the state of Utah. Good week for the teams in Big Sky country, and the pillow fight of the week lived up to all the hype. Let’s get down to business…
Montana got us started this week at home vs Portland State. The Griz were coming off of a bad loss to Northern Arizona, Portland State was coming off of a heartbreaker against Cal Poly. The Griz got back to their old ways and started scoring points in a hurry. Portland State wanted to score points in a hurry but kept tripping over their own feet in doing so. The normally reliable Kieran McDonagh, whom I’ve been high on in past week, sure didn’t look like the quarterback who’d been dominating defenses. He had two interceptions in the game, and went out for a series or two with an injury. On the other side of the ball Jordan Johnson wasn’t all that efficient either, completing only half of his passes, but threw for four touchdowns. The Griz piled up 378 yards on the ground. Both teams piled up a lot of total yardage. Punters were mostly irrelevant in this one. But they’re people too! Montana rolled in this one 55-27. The Griz hit the road to take on UC Davis, Portland State heads to Cedar City to play Southern Utah.
Southern Utah helped their state reach threat level orange in terms of suck on Saturday. Their week started out with Utah losing at home to UCLA in the final minutes, Utah State losing quarterback Charles F. Keeton to a season ending injury (and losing to my arch nemesis and all-time hated team BYU), then the Thunderbirds did the inexplicable… they lost to UC Davis (no dash). See how I didn’t even build up the drama right there, I just went for it. Southern Utah lost to one of the worst teams in the Big Sky and did so in amazingly horrible fashion. The Aggies got another solid day out of Gabe Manzanares who ran up 175 yards and two scores on the T-bird defense. On the other hand, Southern Utah rushed for 45 yards. Aaron Cantu threw for a lot of yards but also threw it to the other team a couple times, that didn’t help. For UC Davis fan(s) who’d have thought putting your starting QB on the bench would lead to a two game winning streak? UC Davis beat the Thunderbirds 21-3. UC Davis hosts Montana, while Southern Utah plays host to Portland State.
I had full expectation that when Idaho State and North Dakota took the field this week that we’d see a 15-12 win with no touchdowns, but as eGriz user Kemajic replied to my predictions blog he said these two awful teams were more likely to light up the scoreboard. The more I thought about it the more it made sense. No defense! He was mostly right, these two scored as many points as they were capable of which is how we got to a 28-25 final favoring North Dakota. These two dome bound teams didn’t do much to impress fans. However, North Dakota’s defense sacked Idaho State quarterback Justin Arias a lot as he just about negated any rushing yards Idaho State had. He also threw the ball 66 times, that’s a lot. Ultimately, turnovers doomed the domed Bengals. North Dakota will host Eastern Washington, Idaho State will host Northern Colorado in this week’s Big Sky pillow fight of the week.
I just realized that Mike Kramer (former Montana State head coach) has two ex-Montana Grizzly receivers working for him. Clever!
Montana State did exactly what I thought they were going to do to Northern Arizona.. beat them to death. I figured there was no way that Northern Arizona could win a football game played in the month of October, nor could they get up for two big games in a row. Montana State gave the Lumberjacks every opportunity in the world to stay in this game, the Cats kicked field goal after field goal and the Lumberjacks kept squandering opportunities. The NAU player of the game was definitely their punter/kicker Andy Wilder who punted 11 times for a measly 40 yards a kick. Cody Kirk had another terrific game for the Cats rushing for 156 yards and a score. Shawn Johnson of the non-Olympic gymnast variety added another 92 yards and a score. Northern Arizona got almost nothing from its offense. Denarius McGhee was a bit rusty going 7/18 for 72 yards and an INT. Cats win big, 36-7. NAU goes back on the road to take on Sacramento State, Montana State gets a bye this week.
In a game featuring quite a few smart people Yale traveled across country to play the first ever meeting between an Ivy League and Big Sky Conference team. Yale has started off the year strong while Cal Poly was playing some pretty solid .500 ball. The Bulldogs were down 10-7 at the half then kicked it into gear in the second half scoring 17 straight to win 24-10. Cal Poly had four turnovers, which became a huge problem for them. Yale played a nice balanced attack getting 199 yards and a pair of scores from their quarterback Henry Furman, and another 114 yards of rushing from running back Tyler Varga. Cal Poly didn’t get the production from their rushing attack that they normally do, as Chris Brown (of the non-douchebag variety) was held in check much of the game, rushing for only 40 yards. Kris Ivory also had trouble getting loose, rushing for 63 yards. Cal Poly will look to right the ship vs Weber State next weekend.
This game was incredibly disappointing if you had Eastern Washington putting up 70 on Weber State. It’s like Eastern wasn’t even trying to score. Eastern took their foot off the gas in the 3rd quarter of this one after another impressive offensive showing. Vernon Adams another fine game throwing for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Weber State is really struggling to find any consistency on offense. Bo Bolen isn’t getting it done in the backfield, and none of the other backs are helping them either. Austin Chipoletti, the Weber State quarterback, turned in a decent day throwing for 140 with a score and an INT, but not getting much out of his completed passes, but he is playing as a freshman. Weber will head to Cal Poly next, Eastern will be at North Dakota.
In the nightcap for the Big Sky was Northern Colorado taking on Sacramento State. The good news for Northern Colorado in this one was Seth Lobato returning to the lineup for the Bears. He came back in a big way throwing for 340 yards with a score and an INT, however, the rest of the Bears offense was awful. They simply could not get any momentum going on the ground and got behind big and early against the Hornets. Garrett Safron turned in his best performance of the year throwing for 312 yards and three scores. The Hornets also piled up 201 yards of rushing on the day. Big win for the Hornets to get to 2-0 in Big Sky play. Northern Colorado will head to Idaho State next, Sacramento State will host Northern Arizona.
Not much excitement happening this coming weekend in the Big Sky. Cal Poly and Northern Arizona looks to be an interesting matchup, it should determine who’s a pretender and who’s a contender, or it may mean both teams will miss the post season. I’m betting on that. Northern Colorado and Idaho State will fight it out for the bottom of the standings. Portland State and Southern Utah are likely fighting for their playoff lives this weekend, as both teams seem to be right on the outside of the FCS top 25 looking in hoping to snag an at-large spot at the end of the season. Must win for both teams.