Life is just better during the conference season, and our rankings reflect this. As always, positions are dictated by Big Sky Podcast Network contributor votes, then compiled and written by Brian Marceau.
Book Their Tickets
Last Week: Win vs. Idaho State (59-20)
This Week: Bye
Key Stat: Through five FCS games, Montana is averaging 547 yards of total offense, with their worst offensive output (510 yards) coming in week one against South Dakota. Through those five games, quarterback Dalton Sneed has passed for 339.6 yards per game, 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions while rushing for 41.4 yards per game and four touchdowns.
2. Weber State
Last Week: Win vs. Idaho (41-35)
This Week: vs. Southern Utah
Key Stat: Through three FCS wins, Weber State has a turnover margin of +4 and an average time of possession of 33:21
3. Montana State
Last Week: Win at Cal Poly (34-28 OT)
This Week: vs. Sacramento State
Key Stat: In wins against Northern Arizona and Cal Poly, former quarterback-turned-wide-receiver Travis Jonson averaged more yards per carry (7.9) than quarterback Tucker Rovig has averaged yards per pass (5.7) while rushing 24 times for 190 yards and four touchdowns.
4. Sacramento State
Last Week: Win vs. Eastern Washington (48-27)
This Week: at Montana State
Key Stat: Sacramento State has outscored its two Big Sky opponents (Northern Colorado in nonconference, EWU in conference) 98-27. In those two wins, quarterback Kevin Thomson completed 67 percent of his passes while throwing for 676 yards, 8 touchdowns, 2 interceptions.
If We All Win Out (And Don’t Play Each Other), There’s A Chance
5. Northern Arizona
Last Week: Win vs. Northern Colorado (41-23)
This Week: Bye
Key Stat: NAU’s defense allowed both Montana State and Northern Colorado to gain 443 yards of total offense. The biggest difference between the Lumberjacks’ opening loss at Montana State and their win over Northern Colorado was NAU’s passing efficiency: Case Cookus averaged 5.3 yards per pass against the Bobcats, then 8.4 against the Bears.
6. UC Davis
Last Week: Loss at North Dakota (38-36)
This Week: vs. Cal Poly
Key Stat: During Big Sky play in 2018, UC Davis allowed 27.1 points per game. In the Aggies’ opening two conference losses this season against Montana and North Dakota, UC Davis is allowing an average of 41.5 points per game. Defensive regression paired with Jake Maier’s turnover struggles (10 interceptions through 13 starts in 2018, compared to nine interceptions through six starts in 2019) explain how this preseason darling should find itself outside the top 25.
7. Eastern Washington
Last Week: Loss at Sacramento State (48-27)
This Week: vs. Northern Colorado
Key Stat: In their nonconference loss to Idaho and opening conference games, EWU has halved its scoring output from last season (24.6ppg in 2019 compared to 48ppg in 2018) while surrendering double the points (34.3ppg allowed in 2019 to 16.3 allowed in 2018).
8. Idaho State
Last Week: Loss at Montana (59-20)
Next Week: vs. North Dakota
Key Stat: Idaho State has allowed 1,093 yards through two Big Sky games (505 vs. Portland State, 588 at Montana). On the bright side, in those same games running back Ty Flannigan rushed 39 times for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
Last Week: Loss vs. Weber State (41-35)
This Week: at Portland State
Key Stat: In two single-digit Big Sky losses, the Vandals committed 25 penalties for 244 lost yards while quarterback Mason Petrino committed six turnovers (three interceptions vs. UNC, three lost fumbles vs. Weber State).
You Only Forget About Us Because We’re Forgettable
10. Cal Poly
Last Week: Loss vs. Montana State (34-28 OT)
This Week: at UC Davis
Key Stat: In two Big Sky games, Cal Poly’s infamously inefficient defense has allowed opponents to outscore the Mustangs by three while opening 1-1 in spite of the Cal Poly offense possessing the ball for a combined 75:59.
11. Portland State
Last Week: Win vs. Southern Utah (52-31)
This Week: vs. Idaho
Key Stat: In 2018, Portland State ranked ninth in the Big Sky in total offense while gaining 387.6 yards per game. In their blowout loss at Idaho State and blowout win over Southern Utah, the Vikings gained an average of 489 yards.
12. Northern Colorado
Last Week: Loss at Northern Arizona (41-23)
This Week: at Eastern Washington
Key Stat: In their two nonconference FCS losses, Northern Colorado gained a combined 390 yards and earned 27 total first downs. Through two Big Sky games, the Bears have gained 854 yards and earned 48 first downs while going 1-1.
13. Southern Utah
Last Week: Loss at Portland State (52-31)
This Week: at Weber State
Key Stat: Southern Utah is the anti-Cal Poly. In two conference losses, the Thunderbirds have possessed the ball for a total of 45:20. Their +3 turnover margin kept things close against Cal Poly, but a -3 turnover margin versus PSU paved the way for SUU’s third blowout FCS loss.