Bobby Ball 2.0

Lets not pretend the potential rehiring of Bobby Hauck is all conference titles, playoff wins and packed stadiums. Bobby brings a lot of baggage. Should Bobby taken to task for things that happened nearly ten years ago? Certainly. This is the world that we live in, just sweeping things under the rug, or burying our head in the sand for the sake of victories is no longer tolerable.

Consider what happened to Greg Schiano at Tennessee in the past 48 hours. He was all set to become the next Vol head coach and was unceremoniously dumped on the side of the street because of lingering allegations of cover up of sexual assault while at Penn State. Should Bobby receive similar treatment? Probably not, but his potential hire should be paired with tough questions about program behavior, his own behavior and the relationship between football and the campus and community.

Continue reading “Bobby Ball 2.0”

A Sad Day in Grizzlyville…

The business of football was and is always a cruel one. Today that business got more cruel. Montana fired a football coach, fans abroad cheered, and I became a bit more hardened in my heart. For today, a man was fired for being good at his job.

His problem? He wasn’t great. Coaching is a hard sport to be in, because all the good advice you get rarely prepares you for those handful of people you can’t please. What Bob Stitt didn’t know when taking the job, he was going to walk into a stadium chalk full of people he couldn’t please. Constant pining for the next great quarterback. The next national championship.

I remember all of those days in as I listened to people joke about the obsessives in the Grizzly fanbase. Just laughed. Sending Tony Moss, Craig Haley and others hate mail for picking against the Griz.  Started to believe it a bit more when I heard it in the crowd during the Dennehy tenure, more so when Drew Miller limped off the field, the numerous throngs of Hauck haters. The cacophony negative nellies only grew larger and more emboldened after Pflugrad was let go.

Coaches don’t sign up for a job that treats them as some piece of replaceable merchandise. They don’t sign up to receive all sorts of hate mail. Verbal abuse from fans, boosters and parents. They sacrifice a great amount, in order to provide a product in the best way they know how. Only to be continuously second guessed by a bunch of drunk know-it-alls who can’t find their way in after half time.

Am I frustrated and angry that it came to this in Missoula? Sure as hell I am. Kent Haslam can say he wants to get the toughness back into Grizzly football. As fans applauded that, do they have the slightest clue what it looks like? I think there are a number of Grizzly football players who might have taken umbrage with that statement. The Gresch Jensen’s,  Justin Strong’s and Josh Sandry’s who played multiple games with injuries. To win games for their teammates, their coaches and the fans that support them.

I have been a supporter through thick and thin of the University of Montana football program. As long as we continue to chase ghosts, to chase the past, no one is ever going to be good enough. Hell Bobby Hauck wasn’t good enough. If we bring Hauck back, there is no guarantee that he’ll be as good as he was before.

So you can offer your platitudes to the coaches and their families. But they knew what they were getting into. Bullshit. I have experienced this twice in my life. Happened nearly the same way. You can’t prepare for this ever. What is worse is that people, even in administration, are never fully honest with you. They can’t.  You can’t fight back. There is no point. So you are generous, while at the same time you are angry and on the verge of tears.

If Skyline’s reporting is correct, and I don’t have a reason to believe that it isn’t, then it makes our program and the athletic department look pretty small and petty. The optics are bad. The luster is gone from the program, and Stitt wasn’t responsible for that.

Stitt obviously put himself into this position by not winning enough. He didn’t put the program into the stratosphere quick enough.  The adage is, if you didn’t do enough to keep your job, then you open yourself up to losing it. This was always a tough job, but it wasn’t unreasonable. Now it is. Montana puts itself in the company of Tennessee, Texas and Florida. Places where the incessant need to win has forced them into one bad decision after the next. I don’t think think this is a great decision, but time will only tell if my opinion of this transaction is vindicated or not.

That incessant need to win has a cost. In some ways that is how we got here. Coaches who weren’t acceptable in 2015 suddenly are?  We had ethics in 2015 and wanted a coach who would lead a program of fine young men. Now? F-it. Lets win. While that is overstatement, I don’t believe that it is far from the truth.

I just hope people can wake up in the morning and look themselves in the mirror. I am not talking about Haslam.  Today Grizzly football was defined by those who were timid and weak. I am sorry that Bob Stitt paid the price for that. Just makes me sick to my stomach. There is nothing to celebrate here. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Best of luck to Coach Stitt, his staff and their families. I can’t help but think they deserved a little better than they got.

Thanks again for reading.

GF24.

The Power of Silence

Here are a few tidbits for you to gnaw on as you try to recover from the Grizzly loss at Montana State yesterday.

  • Yesterday marked the first time since 02-03 that MSU had won two games in a row. That bridged the Glenn-Hauck eras.
  • The loss yesterday marked the first time since 2005 that UM lost to MSU in Bozeman.
  • The loss will most likely end up causing the University of Montana to miss the playoffs in consecutive years since 91-92.
  • Stitt is the first Montana coach to lose to MSU in consecutive years since Larry Donovan. (1984-85)
  • Montana suffered three or more conference losses in consecutive years for the first time since 86-87
  • Montana has not won the Big Sky Conference officially since 2009.

Those are the type of stats that make you want to start drinking at 7am on a Sunday morning. I’m not, but you can. Even with all of the those stats, Bob Stitt should wake up on Monday morning and be the head coach of the University of Montana football program. He should be the coach there until he isn’t anymore.

The words that fill my blog will likely never  include words, phrases, clauses that ask for coaches to be fired.  That doesn’t mean coaches should be fired, or have merited a second look into their performance by the powers that be. Again if Bob Stitt is the coach on Monday morning, he should be until he isn’t anymore.

I have to imagine the weight of the air, the power of the silence, inside the halls, lockers and offices of Washington-Grizzly Stadium is overwhelming this morning. That is NOT a comfortable feeling. You don’t want to be in those places that remind you of your shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies. Whether you are a coach or a player, you have to face them eventually, but the idea of being there right now is likely crushing under the weight of that failure.

For the coaches and the players, those returning, will use it to fuel their off-season. For those who are walking out for the last time, it’ll haunt them for many years to come. The weight of things not done, not achieved, are not easily lifted or erased away. That is baggage you don’t want to leave University of Montana as a football player or a coach with.

Yet while there is silence inside Washington-Grizzly, the cacophony of critics asking, wanting, demanding change is deafening. The barbarians are at the gate and Emperor Haslam has some tough decisions to make. There are omnipresent issues afoot that must be addressed. Declining attendance. Declining performance. Losing to the Bobcats. Department shortfalls. Booster Support. A new main hall administration.

Lets make this clear. Bob Stitt was a great hire in 2015, and still is. That results are less than overwhelming is something that you could not possibly have known. Some claim you can by looking deep into Stitt’s record at the Colorado School of Mines and know. Great coaches with pedigree fail, and fail all the time.  Bill Belichick and  Nick Saban failed. At this point, the only failure Bob Stitt has on his record at the University of Montana, is his inability to live up to the ghosts of Grizzlies past and the standards of an impatient Grizzly booster and fanbase.

Stitt has done A Lot of things right. That won’t matter in the end. Petulant fans and boosters have a way of getting their way. They shouldn’t, but the salvage yard of programs done in by hyper vigilant fan bases and super sensitive administrations is long and distinguished. Texas. Nebraska. Tennessee. Florida. The trail is pretty narrow and administrators have tough jobs. A great hire puts you at the top of the mountain. A bad one and you  fall off into the valley to do.

There are reasons to fire coaches. Stitt hasn’t done much to merit being fired. Yet he hasn’t done much to merit being kept either. Those points listed above matter to Griz fans, boosters and administration. The constant drive to meet an almost unattainable standard can wear upon not only players, but coaches and administration.

The problem is optics. Jeff Choate has 9 total wins in his first two years in Bozeman. He has a total of 7 conference wins. He only carries two significant victories and that is all that matters. He is 2-0 against the Griz, and has taken them to the woodshed like no other team has in Stitts tenure. Their rah-rah Friday night style sure contrasts rather sharply with Stitts cerebral and reserved style. Choate owns Bozeman now, and Stitt with largely a better resume may very well be looking for a job Monday morning. Administrations shouldn’t make decisions based upon narratives of fans but they do.

Rarely does firing coaches for better than industry performance work out well for the institution or the fan bases that represent them. Stitt is 8 games above .500 in his tenure, averages 7 wins a year, and even has a playoff win under his belt. His teams played maybe 7 bad quarters this year, and they resulted in 3 losses. They competed. Won games with three different quarterbacks at the helm. They improved the model from a year before. But. They missed the playoffs and lost to Montana State. That is enough to get Bob Stitt fired, and he probably knows it too.

If the decision is to retain Stitt, it’ll be the right one. I don’t envy the decisions that need to be made. Will there be sacrificial lambs (Semore, Neikamp?). Stitt made a ton of concessions last year. An uniformed eye saw the improvement. Yet, it might not be enough. There were maddening inconsistencies, continued flat play at inopportune times.

Coaches are deeply self-aware. The stuff not accomplished keeps them in their offices until 3am with  only the glare of the TV monitor lighting the room. They’ll replay the same clip a hundred times over, and over again to find the flaw. The mistake. Yet some flaws are not easily found within the film, nor are others correctable. Some only can be removed only by removing themselves. For the detailed oriented nature of Stitt, the meticulous nature of how and why he does everything, there are lingering details that seem obvious from the outside that seem to be ignored. Seem to be ignored. Maybe those details were addressed, but not successfully so.

Maybe those details are outside or even above the ability of this coaching staff. Doubt it, as at least with my limited interaction, this coaching staff is one of the most intelligent staffs I have encountered. Sometimes that doesn’t translate.

Lou Holtz said many years ago that ability gets you only so far. In the end it is attitude that determines how far and how high you go. There is some legitimacy to that assertion at least from a player perspective. I don’t think attitude replaces ability in coaching. Way too much success and failure in coaching is in the details. That it matters to fans that Choate is a rah-rah guy, personable, over actual results is revealing.  Both programs have similar roster make-ups, 2/3rds of the roster are Redshirts, Freshman or Sophomores. Both start similar amounts of seniors, collected in different areas or get playing time from upper classmen. Choate is 9-13 in two seasons. Bob Stitt is 13-9.

Again 0-2 and missing the playoffs are the only narratives that matter outside the offices of Kent Haslam and Bob Stitt. They matter inside, but there is substantively more. Ex-players can cry foul. Boosters can pull money. Fixing what ails Montana football isn’t as easy as bringing another coach in. You can replace Stitt with a rah-rah guy and end up in the same place in three years. You know what you have in the coaches offices right now. You don’t know what is walking in. You think you might know, but you really don’t. Ask Texas, Florida, and Tennessee.

Montana will be in a better place in three years with Stitt, than Montana State will be with Choate. Fans won’t like that. Wasn’t as if Ash left the cupboard completely bare. Many elements of his recruiting were elemental in winning these last two Cat-Griz games. All of those young guys still led Choate to 9 wins in two years. Choose your narrative and run with it. Gresh Jensen is a better quarterback as Freshman, than Murray is a sophomore.

Whether Stitt is the coach tomorrow or not, just replacing the coach isn’t a guarantee. The roster and that locker room are poised, and in a much better situation to build upon the success and failures of this season. There is a great foundation for the future. Whomever that leads them on the field in 2018, is likely inheriting or has a squad poised on potential alone capable of taking the next step.

The silence in Washington Grizzly is just as deafening as the clamoring outside of it today. That is problem and there isn’t an easy solution. Changes need to be made. Diagnoses are easy, prescriptions and cures aren’t. Who Haslam listens to over the next 24 hours will be interesting.  Here is hoping that he listens to common sense within room, versus the barbarians at the gate.

 

 

Big Sky Round Up Week 11

The Big Sky’s playoff picture didn’t get much clearer on Saturday win week 11 of play, however we now have the setup for a big final weekend of regular season play. No big upsets this weekend, which means there are six teams alive for a playoff berth, but possibly only three or four spots will be given to Big Sky teams. As of now Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, Weber State, Eastern Washington, and Sacramento State are alive for spots. Realistically, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State will probably not be in the field. The other four, however, are still alive.

The final weekend will pit a bubble team, Montana against its in-state rival Montana State. Northern Arizona and Southern Utah will also face off, with NAU quite possibly being on the bubble. Southern Utah and Weber should have spots wrapped up for Sunday’s selection show.

The Big Sky’s week started with Eastern Washington take a trip across a couple of time zones to take on the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The Hawks are having a bit of a letdown this season due to a number of injuries to key starters. Eastern Washington on the other hand was dealing with the suspension of two players due to some extracurricular activities last weekend. One of those players was starting quarterback Gage Gubrud. The Fighting Hawks got on the board first with a Keaton Studsrud touchdown run. Eastern Washington would answer with a half back pass, Sam McPherson to Talolo Limu-Jones. Eastern Washington hit on two more scoring plays in the second quarter including a touchdown from quarterback in relief Eric Barriere to McPherson. Barriere also had a touchdown run. North Dakota tried to make it interesting in the fourth quarter by closing to gap to within seven but couldn’t close out. Eastern Washington will take on Portland State next weekend while North Dakota’s season is over.

After Montana’s victory against Northern Arizona last weekend without starting quarterback Gresch Jensen the Griz were happy to have Jensen back for Northern Colorado. The Bears know a thing or two about playing with a backup, as Jacob Knipp was knocked for the season and Conor Regan was brought in for the remainder of the season. The Griz got off to a quick start with a touchdown run from Gresch Jensen to open up the scoring. Northern Colorado answered right back with a scoring drive of their own, Alex Wesley catching a 26 yard pass from Conor Regan. From there the Griz scored 37 straight points and blew the doors off of Northern Colorado. The Bears managed a garbage time pick six by Marshaun Cameron to get the score a tiny bit closer. Montana will be at Montana State next weekend, while Northern Colorado will host Cal Poly in the Big Sky pillow fight of the week.

Portland State, the Big Sky’s kicking post this season, hosted Weber State this weekend. If you read that last sentence correctly you can probably imagine how this game turned out. Weber State got up 49-3 at the half and that’s really all you need to know about this game. The Wildcats rushed for 421 yards in this contest and somehow only kept the ball for two and a half minutes more than the Vikings. Kevin Smith rushed for 143 yards, David Jones rushed for 103 yards, and Treshawn Garrett rushed for 88 yards. Combined the rushers had seven touchdowns for the Wildcats. Portland State scored a couple of touchdowns in the second half, presumably against the Weber State JV. Weber State will host Idaho State next weekend in the Zion border war, while Portland State will look to keep it respectable against Eastern Washington.

Southern Utah kept their winning ways going and their lead in the Big Sky with a victory against UC-Davis this past weekend. The Aggies came into the game looking for an upset of the Big Sky’s leader and instead found a buzzsaw. Jake Maier turned in a respectable game, however it wasn’t enough to overcome the Thunderbird defense. Patrick Tyler earned Big Sky player of the week honors, as he passed for 370 yards and three touchdowns. Southern Utah quickly got up 21-0 on the Aggies, the first score on an interception return, then a Patrick Tyler touchdown pass. Jay Green would punch in a one yard touchdown to follow. At the half the Thunderbirds were up 26-7. Davis would come back and score in the third and fourth quarter, however the game was pretty much in hand before the Davis offense woke up. Southern Utah will host Northern Arizona next week while Davis will play the Causeway Classic against Sacramento State.

Case Cookus made his return to the field this week one week after being ejected against Montana for a helmet to helmet hit. Cookus came back and threw for 314 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for a touchdown as well. On the other side of the ball was the Montana State Bobcats who were looking to play the role of upset team, as their season is basically already over. The Bobcats made the game interesting in the fourth quarter by scoring with 13:18 left in the 4th to even it up at 30. NAUs Joe Logan would put in a touchdown to give the Lumberjacks a seven point lead with 4:49 left in the game. Montana State wasn’t done and went driving. Chris Murray hit Kevin Kassis with :32 seconds left in the game to put the Cats in position to win or tie the game. Coach Jeff Choate opted for the two point conversion and Chris Murray could not finish the play and NAU would escape with the win. Montana State will host Montana next week in the Treasure State Super Bowl, while Northern Arizona will be at Southern Utah.

In the night cap the Sacramento State Hornets went on the road to take on fairly helpless Cal Poly. The Hornets were trying to keep their very remote playoff chances alive and needed a win. Sacramento State put their foot to the gas almost immediately scoring three plays into the game and went on to score 49 straight against the Mustangs. Kevin Thomson had three touchdown passes for the Hornets. Ernest Jenkins returned a blocked field goal attempt for a 74 yard touchdown in the first quarter. The Hornets piled up 465 yards on offense while only holding the ball for 21:15 of the game. The Hornets will host UC-Davis next weekend while Cal Poly will be playing in the Big Sky pillow fight at Northern Colorado.

Scores

Eastern Washington 21
North Dakota 14

Northern Colorado 14
Montana 44

Weber State 63
Portland State 17

Southern Utah 47
UC-Davis 27

Montana State 36
Northern Arizona 37

Sacramento State 49
Cal Poly 14

Big Sky Player of the Week

This week’s Big Sky player of the week is Southern Utah quarterback Patrick Tyler. Tyler was 26/36 for 370 yards and three touchdowns as the Thunderbirds took care of business against UC-Davis on Saturday in Davis, CA.

Big Sky MVP Candidates

Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington – Did not record any stats
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – 9 receptions, 123 yards
Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis – 11 receptions for 93 yards
Gresch Jensen, QB, Montana – 17/25 for 228 yards, 3 TD, 30 yards rushing 1 TD
Patrick Tyler, QB, Southern Utah – 26/36 for 370 yards, 3 TD 2 INT, 15 yards rushing

Big Sky Power Rankings

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

Final Thoughts and Hot Takes

Fully expected to UC-Davis to pull the upset this week, but that Southern Utah team might be the real deal. I haven’t known what to think of them all season, and every week I think, “there’s no way they can win again this week” and they do. Hope they can win out and get a playoff seed, they’ve earned it.

Montana State going for two and losing was basically how I expected that game to end. As I was sitting in the bar area at Jakers in Missoula watching the game I said to the group with me, and whomever was in earshot at the time, “This is going to end with the Cats failing on a two point conversion.”  Welp.  That said, Jeff Choate made the right decision. The Cats literally had nothing to lose (except the game). They’re not going to the playoffs, they’re on the road, what the hell.. take the shot. You’re the hero if you convert it, no worse off if you lose. Right decision, poor execution.. didn’t like that play call.

I’m guessing none of you had Sacramento State blowing out Cal Poly when this season started.

Gage Gubrud’s replacement, Eric Barriere, had an okay day in his first start for Eastern Washington. 13/23 for 130 yards and a touchdown pass, as well as 55 yards rushing and a touchdown. Game probably looks a bit different if Gubrud is playing, but he didn’t.

The Big Sky comes down to next week. There’s a three way tie at the top of the conference for the autoqualifier bid. Southern Utah, Weber State and Northern Arizona are all 6-1 in conference. Montana, Eastern Washington, and Sacramento State are all sitting at 5-2 in conference. Eastern Washington and Sacramento State are both 6-4 on the season. In theory, EWU and Sacramento State are probably not getting into the playoffs at 7-4 (if they both win next week). That leaves Montana, Weber, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah probably fighting for three spots. Southern Utah and NAU play next weekend. Weber did not have to play NAU this year. Going to be a screwy tie breaker scenario that plays out.

At the same time… can’t believe we give a playoff spot to the NEC and the Pioneer league. Man alive.. why? I get it, but why? Also, the Patriot league leader, Lehigh, is 4-1 in conference.. and 4-6 overall. The second place team, Colgate, is 6-4, 4-1 in conference. Lehigh owns the tiebreaker over Colgate in this situation.

North Carolina A&T won the MEAC this past weekend. They have indicated that they will play in the Celebration Bowl rather than the FCS playoffs. That’s a shame that one of the FCS’s top teams, and one of two that are left undefeated, won’t be competing in this year’s playoffs. It would be interesting to see how they’d fare in the tournament.

My picks for the week: Montana, Northern Colorado, Weber State, Southern Utah, Sacramento State, Eastern Washington.

Big Sky Round Up Week 10

The top of the Big Sky standings got pretty shaken up this week with two top teams going down. This is the time of season where the conference haves and have-nots start to separate themselves into who is going to be playing in the post season.

The Big Sky week started off in Bozeman with the visiting Kennesaw State Owls making the nearly cross country road trip to take on the Bobcats. Kennesaw State, a third year program from Georgia and ranked in the FCS top 25, presented a few new wrinkles for the Bobcats. The Owls, who run a triple option style offense, started the game with an eight and a half minute drive and ended with a touchdown. The Owls piled up 346 yards rushing and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes in a two point victory. Montana State got a touchdown from Chris Murray on the ground, and a touchdown pass to Mitchell Herbert for their only scores. After Kennesaw’s opening touchdown they’d ride three field goals from Justin Thompson to victory. The Bobcats will face off with Northern Arizona in Flagstaff next week.

Weber State, fresh off of a win over Montana took a trip to the Palouse to take on Eastern Washington. The Eagles, who are clinging to their playoff hopes, needed a win over Weber State to keep them alive. The Wildcats, on the other hand, had other thoughts in mind. Treshawn Garrett had a pair of touchdowns from Stefan Cantwell to get the Wildcats going. In all Cantwell had three touchdown passes and 230 yards to lead the Wildcats. Post-game, it was announced that Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gabrud will miss next week’s game due to a violation of team rules. Weber State gets a win to remain at the top of the Big Sky standings. Weber State will head to Portland to take on Portland State. Eastern Washington will make the trip to Grand Forks to take on North Dakota.

UC-Davis is looking to turn in one of their best seasons since joining the Big Sky and looked to keep that going with a game at Idaho State. The Bengals, also having a good year by Bengal standards needed to slow down the Aggie offense to have any chance in this one. That chance quickly disappeared when Jake Maier got the ball in his hands and led three scoring drives in the first quarter, the Aggies quickly up 21-0. The Bengals would get on the board early in the second quarter, however, that didn’t really matter because UC-Davis didn’t look back. Maier piled up 358 yards and three scores, while Justin Williams had two rushing scores for the Aggies. UC-Davis will host Southern Utah, while Idaho State will have a bye.

Southern Utah kept making their case for the Big Sky’s autobid later this month by dismantling North Dakota in Cedar City this weekend. Patrick Tyler had a nice game for the Thunderbirds, throwing for 310 yards and two scores. Jay Green had 62 yards and three scores on the ground. North Dakota never made this game interesting. John Santiago turned in a 115 yard effort for the Fighting Hawks, with a score but wasn’t enough to help the Hawks effort. Southern Utah will travel to UC-Davis to take on the potent Aggies offense, while North Dakota will host Eastern Washington.

Sacramento State seems to have found their scoring groove. This week they got to put their offense to the test against Northern Colorado. The Bears have been reeling for a lot of the season, but even moreso since starting quarterback Jacob Knipp got injured. Hornet quarterback Roman Ale had a pair of touchdown passes. However, the Hornets rode a 333 yard rushing effort from their trio of backs to put their foot down on the Bears. Elijah Dotson had 124 yards and two scores to lead all rushers. The Hornets were also aided by three Northern Colorado turnovers. Sacramento State will head to Cal Poly to take on the Mustangs, while Northern Colorado will be at Montana.

Montana was smarting after a loss at Weber State last week, and this week didn’t get any easier as they took on the Big Sky’s sole unbeaten team in conference play, Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks had a rough start to the game as starting quarterback Case Cookus was ejected early in the first quarter for a targeting call on a play he was blocking for a receiver. From there Stone Smartt came in and did his best with what he was given. He was given a defense anxious to hit him early and often, recording seven sacks. On the other hand, Montana starting quarterback Gresch Jensen was ruled out with a concussion. This led to Montana starting fourth string quarterback Makena Simis. Simis rushed for 101 yards, and with the help of a special teams touchdown from Jerry Louis-McGee Montana defeated Northern Arizona. The Griz will host Northern Colorado, while the Lumberjacks will host Montana State.

In the final game of the week, and the Big Sky Pillow Fight of the Week, Portland State took their trip down the coast and took on Cal Poly. In a game that didn’t feature a whole lot of defense both teams got to showcase their offenses. Davis Alexander recorded 409 passing yards with a touchdown and interception. Cal Poly rushed for 400 yards and five touchdowns to return the favor. Running back Jared Mohamed had 194 yards and two scores for the Mustangs. The teams combined for 50 first downs, however! Portland State will host Weber State, Cal Poly will host Sacramento State.

Scores

Northern Arizona 15
Montana 17

Kennesaw State 16
Montana State 14

Weber State 28
Eastern Washington 20

UC Davis 56
Idaho State 17

North Dakota 21
Southern Utah 47

Northern Colorado 21
Sacramento State 50

Portland State 28
Cal Poly 35

Big Sky Player of the Week

This week’s Big Sky Player of the Week is Weber State quarterback Stefan Cantwell. Cantwell was 21/31 for 230 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats defeated Eastern Washington in Cheney this weekend. Cantwell also added 66 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Big Sky MVP Candidates

Gage Gabrud, QB, Eastern Washington – 22/42 for 239 yards, 1 TD 1 INT
Elijah Marks, WR, Northern Arizona – 3 receptions, 16 yards
Keelan Doss, WR, UC-Davis – 11 receptions, 112 yards
Gresch Jensen, QB, Montana – No stats recorded
Tanner Gueller, QB, Idaho State – 13/21 for 183 yards

Big Sky Power Rankings

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

Final Thoughts and Hot Takes

Interesting to see a quarterback get tossed for targeting.. might never see it again, but it sure was fun to see in person.

Kennesaw State runs a pretty good triple option. Not a bad team for a third year program from Georgia playing in the snow and cold in Bozeman.

We’ll see what Eastern Washington is made of this weekend. They have a gimme game against North Dakota, however, they’ll be without two players who were involved with police in Cheney on Saturday night. Gage Gabrud will not be playing and his backup will be there in relief. We’ll see how that goes.

Looking at the playoffs there are still five teams from the Big Sky looking for a spot. Southern Utah, Weber State, Montana, Northern Arizona, and Eastern Washington should all have a shot, however, only three or maybe four are getting in. Unless there are upsets this weekend, there’s no reason to think that anything will be really decided this weekend.

Congrats to Cal Poly on their win in the pillow fight against Portland State. True incompetence can’t always be measured easily, however in Portland, it may be measured by not winning any games.

My picks this week are Montana, Eastern Washington, Weber State, UC-Davis, Northern Arizona, and Sacramento State.