Big Sky Round Up Week 9

If you look at the playoff scenario for the Big Sky Conference at this point in the season you can see there’s a clear mess at the top. The auto-bid right now appears to belong to Northern Arizona with a perfect conference record. Right behind them with one conference loss is Southern Utah, Weber State, and Eastern Washington. Also in the playoff hunt are Montana, Montana State, with a very outside shot to Sacramento State.

Right now there are four ranked Big Sky team, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Southern Utah, and Weber State. Montana fell out of the rankings with their loss at Weber State this past weekend. With a 24 team playoff field typically at least three Big Sky teams have gotten in, with four a possibility. With the teams above having a possibility of playoffs, which ones make it? The next two weeks should clear up a lot of questions.

Getting things started in the Big Sky this week was Montana taking a 54 minute flight from Missoula to Ogden to take on Weber State. Weber State jumped out to a commanding 34-6 lead at the half thanks to several Montana turnovers and miscues. The Wildcats jumped on those early and capitalized. Montana was without starting defensive back Justin Strong, and lost two defensive starters in the first quarter to targeting penalties. Weber capitalized with four straight touchdowns. Montana temporarily stopped the bleeding with a Gresch Jensen touchdown run before the half. Montana fought back in the second half, getting within 14, however a Jensen interception returned for a touchdown by Jordan Preator sealed the deal for the Wildcats. Montana will host Northern Arizona next week while Weber State will be on the road at Eastern Washington.

Southern Utah looked to continue their assault on the Big Sky Conference with a game in Greeley this weekend. The Thunderbirds have already taken down Weber State and Eastern Washington, and Northern Colorado was going to be their next victim. Southern Utah used a strong rushing attack from James Felila (126 yards) and a fine passing attack from Patrick Tyler to take down the Battlin’ Bears 27-14. UNCs Conor Regen, in relief of injured quarterback Jacob Knipp, threw for 392 yards and a score but couldn’t get the Bears into the game. Tyler started off the scoring on a quarterback keeper of 31 yards and the T-Birds never had to look back. Cameron Chambers iced the game with a 13 yard pass from Tyler to end it. Southern Utah will host North Dakota, while Northern Colorado will be at Sacramento State.

Idaho State was looking to keep their name near the top of the Big Sky standings in their trip to Bozeman this weekend. However, the Bobcats had other plans for the visiting Bengals. Bobcat quarterback Chris Murray turned in one of his finer passing efforts of his young career by throwing for 231 yards and two scores. He added 67 yards rushing and a score to aid his effort. The Bobcats owned the first quarter with a pair of touchdowns from Mitchell Herbert and Troy Anderson, but the Bengals weren’t done. Michael Dean and James Madison had touchdowns of their own to knot it at the half. Mac Bignell sealed the game for Montana State by intercepting Tanner Gueller and retuning it for an 18 yard touchdown. Montana Stae will host Kennesaw State while Idaho State will host UC-Davis.

In the Big Sky pillow fight of the week North Dakota made the trip across the Big Sky to take on Portland State. Portland State jumped out to a quick 14 point lead in the first quarter. After that North Dakota ripped off 34 straight points thanks to a combination of John Santiago and Reid Taubenheim. While up 34-14 Portland State attempted to come back, Davis Alexander punched in an 8 yard touchdown. However, North Dakota’s Brady Oliveira answered with his own touchdown to make sure that comeback was short lived. Carter Wilson iced the cake with a 53 yard fumble return touchdown. Portland State will be at Cal Poly in next week’s Big Sky Pillow Fight of the Week, while North Dakota will be at Southern Utah.

Sacramento State was looking to unseat the only team with an undefeated record in Big Sky Conference play, however they were going to have to play lights out for that to happen. Northern Arizona’s defense held the Hornets to 233 yards to stop Sacramento State in their flight pattern. The Jacks jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead thanks to a Case Cookus touchdown and a Wes Sutton interception return. The Hornets came right back with a Joseph Ajeigbe 71 yard touchdown run. Sacramento State made it interesting in the third quarter with Elijah Dotson touchdown catch from Roman Ale to get the score to 20-17. However, the Jacks had other plans getting a score from Joe Logan, then icing the game with a pick six from Kam’Ron Johnson to put it away. Sacramento State will look back on this one and be kicking themselves. Northern Arizona will be at Montana next week, Sacramento State will host Northern Colorado.

In the Big Sky night cap Cal Poly was trying to get into the win column for the first time this season, but to do so they had to beat their in-state rival UC-Davis. The Aggies jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead on three Jake Maier touchdown passes. Two of them to Wesley Preece, one to Aaron Moore. Cal Poly got one on the board with a score from Jared Mohamed. On their opening drive of the second quarter Cal Poly got another sore from Kyle Lewis, hauling in a 42 yard touchdown pass. Davis would answer right back with another Aaron Moore touchdown reception. Poly wasn’t done as they kept chipping away, getting touchdowns from Broc Mortensen and Jared Mohamed, however, that wasn’t enough to get by Davis. Davis was held scoreless in the second half. Cal Poly will host Portland State in the Big Sky Conference Pillow Fight of the Week, while Davis will travel to Idaho State.


Montana 27
Weber State 41

Southern Utah 27
Northern Colorado 14

Idaho State 14
Montana State 28

North Dakota 48
Portland State 21

Sacramento State 17
Northern Arizona 37

Cal Poly 28
UC Davis 31

Big Sky Player of the Week

This week’s Big Sky player of the week is Northern Arizona’s Case Cookus. Cookus was 35/57 for 407 yards and a touchdown in the Lumberjacks’ win over Sacramento State this past weekend.

Big Sky MVP Candidates

Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – Idle
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – No stats recorded
Tanner Gueller, QB, Idaho State – 17/28 for 193 yards, 1 TD 2 INT
Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis – 14 receptions, 145 yards
Gresch Jensen, QB, Montana – 21/42 for 347 yards, 3 TD 3 INT

Big Sky Power Rankings

1. Southern Utah
2. Eastern Washington
3. Weber State
4. Northern Arizona
5. Montana
6. Montana State
7. UC-Davis
8. Sacramento State
9. Idaho State
10. Northern Colorado
11. North Dakota
12. Portland State
13. Cal Poly

Final Thoughts and Hot Takes

The Pillow Fight of the Week is hilarious for the second week in a row. These teams at the bottom of the conference are so bad.

Speaking of bad, it’d be awesome if Big Sky commish Andrea Williams watched her referees and made some changes. All I’m saying on the topic.

The mess at the top of the Big Sky won’t be cleared up for at least a couple of weeks. By then we should see how many Big Sky teams are going to the playoffs. Naturally there will be some bubble teams but I see four BSC teams getting in. I see five teams playing for those four spots.

If Cal Poly doesn’t beat Portland State this weekend I don’t think they’re going to win a game this year. Far fall for the Mustangs.

Saw a game in Ogden last weekend. That was a difference experience. Utah has weird laws in bars, man.

Northern Arizona has played a pretty easy Big Sky schedule so far, their next three games aren’t going to be as nice to them. They’re rolling with a lot of momentum right now and anything can happen, but these next three weeks could make or break them.

Southern Utah, on the other hand, have only one test left. They will be hosting Northern Arizona to end the season. I’d say SUU is lock for the playoffs even if they trip up once in the last three weeks. Or even twice, for that matter.

My picks this week: Montana, Kennesaw State, Eastern Washington, UC-Davis, Southern Utah, Sacramento State, Cal Poly.

24 Hour Rule: Weber State

I went to Sea World with my family. Yesterday was maybe the 10th or so time I had been to Sea World in the last year. One of the advantages of living in San Diego is that you can frequent places like Sea World, and do so cheaply. So we went, while the Griz were playing Weber State.

I’ll clue you in on something. Sea World doesn’t change much from the first to the 100th time you visit. Same exhibits, same animals, rides and shows. I have watch Clyde and Semour the Sea Lion show at least a half dozen times this year, and it is the same stuff.

So why the discussion about Sea World? I had been clued into something about the Griz for a while now, nothing nefarious or anything, but what the Griz are.

What makes a person go back to the same place weekend after weekend, year after year? 

The players will change, so will the coaches, but the uniforms, the crowd, the experience rarely do. I had been going to Griz games pretty regularly since the late 80’s. I grew up with the Griz, went to college with the Griz and got into middle ages with the Griz.

On the literal eve of my 42nd birthday and watching twitter, egriz and maroonblood once again descend into utter chaos over the loss. Yes the Griz looked horrible in the first half, absolutely horrible. Wasn’t the first time it happened in recent years, or ever. I remember watching the Vandals run Dave Dickenson and the Griz out of the Kibbie dome in 1995. They gave up 49 points in the first half on that day.

I was on the escalator in the shark exhibit and watching the lemon shark lurk over the top of us. The shark only likely knew that exhibit. It just swam around and around. Was it happy? Did it swim to amuse the tourists? Did it somehow feel like it was letting us down by not zig-zagging or jetting in a menacing way towards an unknown object?

I don’t think my love for the shark exhibit would diminish if I knew the Lemon shark was going through the motions. That the Sea World attendant didn’t throw fish in the right way to get the most out of their charges for the day. We just don’t judge Sea World that way. We know it is entertainment, maybe we expect a little in return, that we enjoy ourselves. Yet there is no perfect scenario at enjoyment inside Sea World, it is up to you to determine how you want to experience it.

I don’t know if people enjoy Grizzly football anymore. Has the novelty worn off for some that all we see is those poor lemon sharks going through the motions? 

I’ll admit the product hasn’t been great inside Washington Grizzly for almost ten years now. Montana is no longer the banner program of FCS or even of its own conference. There are at least a dozen programs in FCS that claim to have a better pedigree over the past decade.

Is winning that all that matters? Is the enjoyment only rooted in how or who we defeat? Impatience is a human condition rooted in selfishness. That you demand a better product, even after you have been provided it, only to complain because it doesn’t fit your standards.

I won’t sit here and insult your intelligence, Stitt’s product over his three years in Missoula has been far from ideal. Yet, in comparison I just don’t know that his product was or is any worse than some of the stuff Read ran out pre-1995 or Dennehy ran out in 98-99. I just don’t know that it is.

If you walk into place expected to be disappointed, my guess is that you probably will. Oh they still have that damn Clyde in the sea otter show. How lame! Why can’t the dolphins do double twisting double somersaults? WTF?

For me, you can’t argue and you can’t debate unreasonable expectations. I have tried for almost ten years now and nothing seems to work. There are reasonable expectations and there are those who can’t unwind their own absurd expectations. I guess why spend money on something that is going to make you angry all the time.

I like Sea World in the same way that I enjoy Griz games. They are relaxing escapes from the drudgery of daily demands. If anyone tells me they’d rather grade 100 vocabulary assignments than watching a bunch of guys run around on a field for three hours or watch domesticated sharks swim around for the same, you are insane.

I get that people want the Griz to win, so do I. I just don’t see the merit in being a negative nancy either. I hope everyone has a great week. If I am not at work, I’ll be at Sea World watching the sharks swim in a circle.




Big Sky Round-Up Week 8

Southern Utah just keeps on rolling, and Cal Poly just keeps getting rolled. Welcome to week 8 of the Big Sky Round-Up!

Two weeks in a row Southern Utah has taken down one of the top teams in the conference, winning games they shouldn’t be winning, and doing it convincingly both times. Last week the Thunderbirds got the best of Weber State and this week they took down an FCS top ten team, Eastern Washington. The T-Birds started off a little slow, but completely dominated the second half against the potent Eagles offense. The Thunderbird defense talked Gage Gabrud into throwing three interceptions in a solid defensive effort. In all the Southern Utah defense got Eastern Washington to turn the ball over four times, including a back breaker late in the fourth quarter. Eastern Washington score once in the second half, an Antoine Custer touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. At that point the Eagles had a three point lead, from there on out it was the Patrick Tyler show. Tyler finished 22/33 for 183 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 49 yards. Gabrud finished with 246 yards and a touchdown, and three turnovers. Eastern Washington will have a bye, while Southern Utah will head to Northern Colorado.

North Dakota’s year just isn’t getting any better and at this point they’re just hoping to get through the season without any more injuries. On Saturday they had the visiting Sacramento State Hornets in town to check out the Fabulous Alerus Center. Sacramento State rolled off 24 points in the third quarter to get a handle on this game and never looked back, despite a flurry of activity from the Hawks in the fourth quarter. The Hornets were aided by a North Dakota fumble and returned for a touchdown by Marcus Bruce. Hawks quarterback Andrew Zimmerman attempted to lead a comeback, throwing a touchdown in the fourth quarter to Noah Wanzek but couldn’t get much traction to close the game. Roman Ale had an efficient day going 13/19 for 263 yards and two scores. Sacramento State will head to Flagstaff to take on Northern Arizona, while North Dakota will make a long trip to take on slightly worse Portland State.

Montana State looked like it was pretty much left for dead on Saturday at Northern Colorado, then went to the well and discovered a bunch of fourth quarter points hiding in there. The Bears had a comfortable 21-7 lead at the half and 24-10 to start the fourth quarter. However, the Bears defense wasn’t up to the task of keeping Montana State from scoring. The Bears gave up 17 points to drop a home contest by three points on Saturday. Chris Murray threw for 222 yards and rushed for 150 yards with a combined two touchdowns to lead the Bobcat comeback. The Bears were without starting quarterback Jacob Knipp who is out for the season. Backup Conor Regan had a nice game, but the Bears ground game had a hard time getting anywhere against the Bobcats. Bobcat freshman kicker Gabe Peppenger broke the tie with no time left to win it for the Bobcats. Montana State will host Idaho State, while Northern Colorado will have a bye.

Okay, so Portland State is bad. They are so bad that also usually bad, Idaho State, scored 59 points on them. Forty-two of those points came in the second and third quarters. Twenty-four of those points came consecutively. Tanner Gueller was responsible for 21 of them. But hey, Portland State got on the board first, they recorded a safety on Idaho State’s first possession. Idaho State had two rushers over 100 yards, James Madison (not the school, nor the president) rushed for 160 yards, Ty Flanagan had 108 and four touchdowns. Tanner Gueller had 327 yards passing and three touchdowns. Idaho State will be heading to Montana State this weekend, while Portland State hosts North Dakota in the Big Sky Pillow Fight of the Week.

In a game I fully expected to become a track meet somewhat lived up to that reputation but did not quite have the fireworks that we all expected. Northern Arizona and UC-Davis scored a lot of points, but 76 seemed like not as much as you’d think you’d get here. Case Cookus had 293 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Lumberjacks over the Aggies. Elijah Marks continued his one man assault as a receiver hauling in 174 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart, UC-Davis receiver Keelan Doss had 106 yards and two scores. Outside of Doss, a pedestrian day of offense for the Aggies. Northern Arizona cooked up a 28 point second quarter to take control of this game and never look back. At one point in this game I thought to myself, “This looks like the kind of game NAU is going to just get their hearts broke.” But as we’re seeing they’re playing it out for Jerome Souers. Northern Arizona will host Sacramento State, while UC-Davis will host Cal Poly.

Weber State made the trip to wine country to give us a snoozer against the worst team in the Big Sky, Cal Poly. Weber State got their starting quarterback, Stefan Cantwell, back after an injury and did just enough to get the Wildcats to a win. Cantwell had 182 yards and two scores, while rushing for another 54 yards for the Wildcats. Weber State running back Treshawn Garrett had 69 yards on the ground. Cal Poly bigly struggled on offense much of the day, as their three points on the scoreboard show. Weber State got a touchdown from David Jones hauling in a Cantwell pass. They capped the game with a Drew Batchelor touchdown catch. The teams combined for seven turnovers, which is the same number of passes that Cal Poly completed. Cal Poly will head to Davis, while Weber State will host Montana.


Sacramento State 34
North Dakota 27

Montana State 27
Northern Colorado 24

Portland State 30
Idaho State 59

UC-Davis 31
Northern Arizona 45

Eastern Washington 28
Southern Utah 46

Weber State 17
Cal Poly 3

Big Sky Player of the Week

This week’s Big Sky Player of the Week is Southern Utah quarterback Patrick Tyler. Tyler was 22/33 for 183 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 49 yards, as the Thunderbirds knocked off Eastern Washington in Cedar City this past weekend.

Big Sky MVP Rankings

Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – 24/44 for 246 yards 1 TD, 3 INT
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – 9 receptions, 174 yards, 1 TD
Tanner Gueller, QB, Idaho State – 14/23 for 327 yards, 3 TD
Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis – 10 receptions, 106 yards, 2 TD
Gresch Jensen, QB, Montana – Idle

Big Sky Power Rankings

1. Southern Utah
2. Eastern Washington
3. Weber State
4. Montana
5. Northern Arizona
6. Montana State
7. Sacramento State
8. Idaho State
9. UC-Davis
10. Northern Colorado
11. North Dakota
12. Portland State
13. Cal Poly

Final Thoughts and Hot Takes

Southern Utah, wow what are you guys doing? That defense is a salty bunch, and they’ve completely shut down two pretty good offenses in consecutive weeks.

On the other hand, the bottom of the Big Sky is very very bad.

Sacramento State got votes this week for the FCS top 25. I don’t even know how this happened, or what planet we’re on now, but here we are. When’s the last time the Hornets got top 25 votes?

Montana and Weber State should be a fun one this weekend.. a group of dudes, including myself, are headed south to take this game in. This might be the most sober road trip I’ve ever gone on. Send help.

Keelan Doss is an underrated receiver in this league. So good, big numbers every week, should be first team All-Big Sky when it’s said and done this season.

Chris Murray at Montana State is a one-man show.. he does a lot for that Montana State offense, but man. Watching him throw a football is not a thing of beauty. He gets it done, I’ll just never know how.

I think it’s fair to say right now that there is no great teams in the Big Sky, a lot of good teams, but no one that’s going to be playing in the semifinals of the playoffs this season.

Big Sky Round-Up Week 7

The Big Sky week seven is now behind us and now that we’ve had some time to reflect on the events of the past weekend it’s been hard to judge the have’s and the have nots. Obviously Cal Poly and Portland State are have nots, however, this conference is still very much up for grabs. There’s a battle brewing at the top between Eastern Washington, Weber State, Montana, and Northern Arizona for that elusive auto-bid. The Eagles are still sitting at the top of the conference, however, they will probably need to go undefeated to win the league this season.

This week’s Big Sky slate started off with Montana hosting North Dakota on homecoming. The Hawks are basically a walking medical unit, everyone is essentially injured with a handful of starters gone for the season. Safety Cole Reyes being one of the bigger losses for the Hawks. That said, you can imagine the result of this game. It was not pretty, folks. Despite Montana turning the ball over three times in the first quarter the Griz still won 41-17. The game wasn’t really that close, however. James Johannesson came in for a 50 yard touchdown run after a plethora of Griz missed tackles that made this look prettier than it was. Montana was led by redshirt freshman quarterback Gresch Jensen, despite his three turnover, still threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns. The Griz will be on a bye, while North Dakota will host Sacramento State.

Montana State took a trip across I-90 over to the red carpet to take on the Big Sky leading Eastern Washington Eagles. Gage Gabrud kept on doing that thing that will probably win him the league’s most valuable player by throwing for 224 yards and a score. A slight disappointment that he did not have a rushing or receiving touchdown. Apparently he saves those days for when he’s down 20 points at halftime. The Cats tried mounting a fourth quarter comeback with Logan Jones and Nick LaSane scoring touchdowns to close within five, however, the Eagles shut the door with a 13 play, 5:43 drive and a touchdown from Antoine Custer to seal the deal in Cheney. Montana State will head to Northern Colorado this week, while Eastern Washington will walk into a potential buzz saw in Southern Utah.

Case Cookus apparently also wants to be considered for Big Sky MVP as he’s been stringing together a few nice wins for the Lumberjacks. He continued that this past weekend as he led the Jacks to a win in Portland over the second worst team in this conference. Cookus tossed for 347 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target, Elijah Marks, caught 173 of those and a score in this victory. Portland State struggled all day to get anything going, except their running game. While effective, certainly didn’t result in a lot of points, or at least enough to beat the Jacks. The Vikings rushed for 305 yards and did a good job of holding onto the ball, however, that didn’t stop NAU from beating their pass coverage all day. Portland State will travel to Idaho State next, while Northern Arizona will host UC-Davis in what looks like might be a track meet.

Southern Utah got the win of the week over Weber State in Ogden this past weekend. The Wildcats were sitting pretty with Eastern Washington at the top of the Big Sky standings, however, the horribly unpredictable Thunderbirds beat on the Wildcats. The Thunderbird defense knocked Weber State quarterback Stefan Cantwell out of the game and from there on the Wildcats were bad. In fact, the Wildcats were so bad four different people attempted passes for the Wildcats. Cantwell accounted for half the completions before he exited the game. Thunderbird quarterback Patrick Tyler, however, threw for 281 and three scores. The Thunderbirds were clinging to a 20-19 lead at the half then opened it up in the second half with 10 points in the first eight minutes of the quarter. Weber only managed a field goal in the second half. Weber State will be at Cal Poly, while Southern Utah will host Eastern Washington.

In the #BigSkyAfterDark Sacramento State hosted Idaho State in front of probably seven people (it was actually 10008). Sacramento State actually turned in a nice game, racing out to a 17-7 halftime lead on the Bengals and just kept their foot on the gas from there on out. Hornet quarterback Kevin Thomson completed 18/23 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. The Hornets also had a nice day on the ground, rushing for 318 at 6.2 yards per carry. For those keeping track at home, that’s pretty good YPC. Idaho State was barely above that in yards per pass completion. Idaho State tried to make it interesting in the third quarter with Mitch Gueller catching a pass from his brother for a 30 yard score, to get within ten, however, the Hornets just used the fourth quarter to step on their throat. Idaho State will have a bye, while Sacramento State will be at North Dakota.


North Dakota 17
Montana 41

Montana State 19
Eastern Washington 31

Northern Arizona 42
Portland State 20

Southern Utah 32
Weber State 16

Idaho State 21
Sacramento State 41

Big Sky Player of the Week

Southern Utah quarterback Patrick Tyler is this week’s Big Sky Player of the Week. Tyler was 20/30 for 281 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Thunderbirds over Weber State this past weekend.

Big Sky MVP Candidates

Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – 25/31 for 224 yards, 1 TD
Tanner Gueller, QB, Idaho State – 20/35 for 244 yards, 2 TD
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – 6 rec, 173 yards, 1 TD
Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis – Idle
Gresch Jensen, QB, Montana – 22/35 for 423 yards, 3 TD

Big Sky Power Rankings

1. Eastern Washington
2. Weber State
3. Montana
4. Northern Arizona
5. Southern Utah
6. Montana State
7. Sacramento State
8. UC-Davis
9. Northern Colorado
10. Idaho State
11. North Dakota
12. Portland State
13. Cal Poly

Final Thoughts and Hot Takes

Cal Poly with a goose egg this season is a little bit of a surprise. Not sure since I’ve ever been doing the power rankings that they’ve been in the low man’s spot.. but here they are.

Weber State losing at home to Southern Utah didn’t surprise me all that much. Southern Utah is one of those teams you never want to bet against.. but never want to bet on either. Saturday afternoon I was thinking this was the kind of game that SUU would probably win, and they did, but they had no business winning. Once Stefan Cantwell went down with injury it was all over for the Wildcats.

Northern Arizona is still playing football in October. Too bad they waited until Jerome Souers got fired to try out this new concept. Case Cookus and Elijah Marks are having quite a season as a tandem and currently have the Lumberjacks undefeated in Big Sky play.

To start the season Eastern Washington was 0-2 and only scored 10 points in a Texas Tech team that traditionally gives up all the points to teams they play. My how times of changed, will the Eagles lose a conference game? Looks like Gabrud and his receivers are fully on the same page now.

Two winless Big Sky teams are not the way to promote a strong conference. Luckily Idaho State and Sacramento State are having “up” seasons or else this would be a dumpster fire that the smokejumpers couldn’t contain. The Missouri Valley is likely reveling in the Big Sky’s misery. Whatever, you live in flyover states.

North Dakota’s entire team is hurt. Not really anything to add to that, just thought I’d mention it.

Rob Phenecie was right last week, his Bengals don’t belong on the same field as the Griz. Losing to Sacramento State is pretty much proof positive you should be saddling up with Ricks College and College of Southern Idaho on the field. Perhaps he’ll learn to keep his mouth shut and be a head coach.


Big Sky Round-Up Week 5

The Big Sky Conference Round-Up is back for the week five edition and this past weekend saw some high scoring games across the league. The Big Sky Conference has always been known for its prolific offenses and this week was no exception. The Eastern Washington Eagles are doing what they always do, and UC-Davis is starting to find an offensive groove under first year head coach Dan Hawkins.

Montana got a conference road win in who knows how long this weekend as they took on Portland State in a high school stadium. Yes, a literal high school stadium, not that thing in Cheney. Montana used a balanced attack featuring transfer Alijah Lee and Gresch Jensen to run up 45 points on the Vikings. The Vikings, however, were not going to go quietly. Quaterback Josh Kraght piled up 381 total yards of offense to keep Portland State within striking distance most of the game. Montana running back Jeremy Calhoun had 124 yards and two scores to lead the Griz. Griz safety Justin Strong had three interceptions, and one pass intercepted on a two-point conversion to win Big Sky defensive player of the week honors. Montana will be at Idaho State, while Portland State will be at Montana State.

Weber State made the trip up north to Bozeman looking to continue its winning ways this season against the Bobcats. Stefan Cantwell passed for 206 yards and rushed for another 49 yards and a score. Montana State quarterback Chris Murray completed eight passes for 124 yards and a score, plus 123 yards rushing, and a 25 yard receiving pass. For a slow evolving game this game may have featured two of the better teams in the conference. Weber State leaned on a stiff defense to try to contain Chris Murray who had 282 total yards for the Cats. Montana State will host Portland State next week, Weber State will have the week off.

Cal Poly’s woes just aren’t getting any better this season. They’ve lost Joe Protheroe for the season and now they’ve lost every game so far this season. Idaho State continued to show off their much improved team and beat Cal Poly by four. Despite giving up 202 yards rushing to Cal Poly quarterback Khaleel Jenkins the Bengals did just enough to win. Tanner Gueller threw for 341 and three touchdowns in the win. The Bengals got a late score from James Madison (still not the president, nor the school) to put the Bengals up for good in this game. The Bengals overcame a 10 point deficit in the last ten minutes of game time to win. Idaho State will be hosting Montana next week, while Cal Poly will be at Southern Utah.

Sacramento State and Eastern Washington didn’t waste any time lighting up the scoreboard like a ping pong machine. The teams combined for over 1200 yards of offense in a wild Big Sky game. Gage Gabrud continued his MVP performance by doing everything in this one. The Eagles quarterback passed for 447 and five touchdowns, and caught a 43 yard touchdown pass to help himself. On the other side of the ball the Hornets rushed for 307 yards, 121 from quarterback Kevin Thomson. It wasn’t enough to overcome the onslaught of Eagles offense. After Eastern went up 21-0 on a 33 yard Antoine Custer touchdown catch from Gabrud the Eagles never had to worry about a threat from the Hornets. Eastern Washington will be at UC-Davis. Sacramento State will have a bye.

Northern Arizona is in the middle of a little bit of turmoil as a team, however, that didn’t stop them from beating Northern Colorado over the head for four quarters this past weekend. Case Cookus tossed three touchdowns and 271 yards to lead the Lumberjacks over the Bears on Saturday. Lumberjack receiver Elijah Marks continued his impressive season by hauling in 106 yards of passes and a score. On the other side of the ball Jacob Knipp threw for 301 yards with a touchdown, but had two interceptions. The Lumberjacks got out to a 20-0 lead right before halftime but the Bears got on the board right before the half with a Frank Stephens touchdown reception. The Bears would take over at the half and get a score from Trey Reik, but it was foot to the gas for NAU after that. The Bears will be at North Dakota, while NAU will host Illinois State in a Big Sky vs MVFC matchup.

In the Big Sky night cap we got North Dakota traveling to Davis to take on the Aggies. Gunslinger Jake Maier threw for 415 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-24 victory for the Aggies. Star receiver Keelan Doss caught 199 yards and a touchdown in the winning effort. On the other hand North Dakota got a nice rushing day from its two running backs John Santiago and Brady Oliveira for a combined 277 yards and a score, but wasn’t nearly enough to pull the Hawks out of this hole. North Dakota, facing a multitude of injuries including safety Cole Reyes, is seeing the effects on the season. The defending Big Sky champions are now 1-4 on the season. UC-Davis will host Eastern Washington, while North Dakota will host Northern Colorado.


Montana 45
Portland State 33

Weber State 25
Montana State 17

Cal Poly 34
Idaho State 38

Sacramento State 31
Eastern Washington 52

Northern Colorado 20
Northern Arizona 48

North Dakota 24
UC-Davis 48

Big Sky Player of the Week

This week’s Big Sky player of the week is UC-Davis receiver Keelan Doss. Doss had 11 receptions for 199 yards and one touchdown in their win vs North Dakota.

Big Sky MVP Candidates

Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – 35/50 for 447 yards, 5 TD, one receiving TD
Cole Reyes, LB, North Dakota – Did not play
Tanner Gueller, QB, Idaho State – 14/24 for 341 yards, 3 TD
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – 7 receptions, 106 yards and 1 TD
Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis – 11 receptions, 199 yards and 1 TD

Big Sky Power Rankings

1. Eastern Washington
2. Weber State
3. Montana
4. Idaho State
5. Northern Arizona
6. UC-Davis
7. Montana State
8. Northern Colorado
9. North Dakota
10. Southern Utah
11. Sacramento State
12. Portland State
13. Cal Poly

Final Thoughts and Hot Takes

Eastern Washington and UC-Davis has the potential to be a lot of fun next week. I’ll be interesting to see how the Aggies come out firing against the Eagles. UC-Davis is seeing an offensive resurgence under Dan Hawkins, who has hardly held a job over the last few years. We know what Eastern Washington will do, but this could be a potential 1200 yards of offense game.

Bad time for Northern Arizona to host Illinois State. That team is a very good team. Big Sky took it on the chops from the MVFC for the most part this year. Sad!

Didn’t predict Cal Poly to be the worst team in the Big Sky this year, that’s usually reserved for Idaho State and UC-Davis. What a world we live in nowadays.

Montana and Idaho State could feature a hell of a lot of offense. More than would make either coaching staff comfortable. Idaho State escaped a close one against Poly last week, Montana struggled at times with Portland State. Make or break game for both teams, you’d have to think.

So do we just hand the MVP to Gage Gabrud now, or nah?

Glad to see Cooper Kupp playing well on Sundays.. that’s a hell of a lot better than watching him wreck Big Sky secondaries week in and week out.

Wonder how much longer Portland State is going to deal with Barnum’s bluster and do something about the state of its football program. A really undisciplined team.

No Big Sky blog from me next week, I’ll be in Denver at the Great American Brew Fest. Pour one out for my liver.