The Fine Wines

One week into the conference schedule our top three have separated, two early season favorites look at home in the middle, but the bottom is more or less still the bottom. As always, positions are dictated by Big Sky Podcast Network contributor votes, then compiled and written by Brian Marceau.

1. Weber State
Record: 2-2 (0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win vs. Northern Iowa (29-17)
This Week: at Idaho
Key Stat: After scoring three touchdowns and two field goals on their first five drives (and forcing two Northern Iowa turnovers), Weber State did not put together a single drive longer than nine yards.

2. Montana
Record: 4-1 (1-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win at UC Davis (45-20)
This Week: vs. Idaho State
Key Stat: Montana gained more yards (528) against UC Davis than either North Dakota State (354) or Pac-12 opponent Cal (471). The Grizzlies’ offensive balance was almost 50-50 (268 yards passing, 260 yards rushing).

3. Montana State
Record: 4-1 (1-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win vs. Northern Arizona (49-31)
This Week: at Cal Poly
Key Stat: After trailing 28-14 at the half, Montana State allowed Northern Arizona two total second half drives of more than 11 yards. Those two drives resulted in a punt and an interception.

The Craft Beers

4. UC Davis
Record: 2-3 (0-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: Loss vs. Montana (45-20)
This Week: at North Dakota
Key Stat: UC Davis gained fewer yards against Montana (351 yards) than against North Dakota State (422 yards), but did find parity in turnovers (three in each game). The Aggies have three games (at North Dakota, vs. Cal Poly, and at Southern Utah) to get their season back in order before hosting Weber State in late October.

5. Eastern Washington
Record: 2-3 (1-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win vs. North Dakota (35-20)
This Week: at Sacramento State
Key Stat: Forcing six North Dakota turnovers kept EWU from the kind of 28-10 second half collapse at Jacksonville State or the 28-0 first half no-show performance at Idaho that’s plagued the Eagles in 2019.

6. Sacramento State
Record: 2-2 (0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. Eastern Washington
Key Stat: Quarterback Kevin Thomson has thrown for nearly as many yards through four starts in 2019 (1,160) as he did in seven starts in 2018 (1,380), while already having thrown for five more touchdowns with 13 this season.

Beer Flavored Beer

7. Idaho State
Record: 2-3 (1-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win vs. Portland State (51-24)
Next Week: at Montana
Key Stat: In their previous FBS and FCS losses at Utah and Northern Iowa, Idaho State scored a combined six points in eight quarters — with backup quarterback Gunnar Amos running the show for six of those quarters due to junior Matt Struck entering the concussion protocol. In Struck’s return, he went 14-of-23 for 332 yards (good for 23.7 yards per completion) and six touchdowns.

8. Northern Arizona
Record: 2-3 (0-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: Loss at Montana State (49-31)
This Week: vs. Northern Colorado
Key Stat: NAU led 28-14 at the half, then punted five times and turned the ball over (counting turnover on downs) three times throughout the second half. Allowing Montana State to rush for 340 yards and six touchdowns didn’t help.

9. Cal Poly
Record: 2-2 (1-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win at Southern Utah (24-21)
This Week: vs. Montana State
Key Stat: Losing three fumbles might explain how Cal Poly could possess the ball nearly 15 minutes longer than Southern Utah (37:17 to 22:43), yet only win by a field goal.

Bathtub Swill

10. Idaho

Record: 2-3 (0-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: Loss at Northern Colorado (27-24)
This Week: vs. Weber State
Key Stat: Trailing by two while facing 4th and 2 on Idaho’s final drive, the Petrino family (quarterback Mason and head coach Paul) contributed consecutive personal fouls pushing the Vandals back to 4th and 32 which forced Idaho to punt with 4:06 left. The Vandals did not see the ball again.

11. Northern Colorado
Record: 1-4 (1-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Win vs. Idaho (27-24)
This Week: at Northern Arizona
Key Stat: Northern Colorado gained 400 combined yards in their two previous FCS games —losses to Sacramento State and South Dakota. Against Idaho, the Bears gained 411 yards.

12. Portland State
Record: 2-3 (0-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: Loss at Idaho State (51-24)
This Week: vs. Southern Utah
Key Stat: Portland State’s theoretically vaunted defense forced zero turnovers and zero punts against Idaho State. Somehow, the Vikings were still only out gained by four total yards (505 to 509 yards), yet still found a way to lose by 27.

13. Southern Utah
Record: 1-4 (0-1 Big Sky)
Last Week: Loss vs. Cal Poly (24-21)
This Week: at Portland State
Key Stat: Considering Southern Utah could not capitalize on a plus-three turnover margin against Cal Poly, gaining 371 yards in just under 23 minutes of offense is almost a consolation prize.

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