Round two of the Red Scare Rivalry is upon us! Eastern Washington comes into their final regular season game with four straight wins since falling to Idaho in week one. Idaho sits at 2-2 after a loss to Idaho State in the ICCU Battle of the Domes (King Spud!)

Last Game: Idaho’s late comeback fell short (turnover on downs with 1:50 remaining)in a 24-22 loss at Idaho State.

Eastern Washington led from start to finish in their 32-22 win at UC Davis.

Previous Matchup:
Idaho bested the then 12th-ranked Eastern Washington Eagles 28-21 in week one. Hayden Hatten caught a 25-yard TD pass from Mike Beaudry with under a minute to go. Eastern Washington was without head coach Aaron Best due to COVID-19 protocols.

Quarterbacks:
All signs point to Nikhil Nayar making his first career start for Idaho after Mike Beaudry left last week’s game with a concussion (CJ Jordan did not make an appearance.) Nayar, fresh off of his relief appearance against Southern Utah, did not post the numbers he did the week before, going 11 of 34 for 130 yards, with one passing TD, one rushing TD, and one INT. On the season, Nayar is 23 of 54, with three TDs and one INT.

EWU’s star QB Eric Barriere continues to perform at a Walter Payton Award level, completing 64.3% of his passes for 1879 yards to go with 16 TDs and six INTs. He is the reigning ROOT Sports Offensive Player of the Week, his third selection this season.

Idaho’s Key Players/Statistics:
It’s getting hard finding new ways to write about Hayden Hatten each week. The wideout had nine catches for 95 yards and a TD against Idaho State. On the season, Hatten still leads the conference in receptions per game (8.8) and is third in yards per game (115.5).

Idaho’s committee of running backs put up over 100 yards of rushing against Idaho State, led by Roshaun Johnson’s 14 carries for 53 yards.

Defensively, Jonah Kim led the way with two sacks last week, as the front seven continues to be Idaho’s strength, particularly the quartet of All-Big Sky caliber linebackers. Tre Walker returned from injury to tally 13 tackles and a sack. Walker, now having played enough games to qualify, leads the Big Sky in tackles per game with 15.7. Christian Elliss added 11 tackles and now averages 9.2 per game, good for sixth in the Big Sky. Not to be outdone, Fa’Avae Fa’Avae is seventh in the conference with nine tackles per game. Charles Akanno is ninth in the Big Sky in tackles for loss.

Eastern Washington’s Key Players/Statistics:
The 9th-ranked Eastern Washington Eagles lead the Big Sky in points per game with 41.2, led primarily by three receivers among the statistical leaders in the conference. Talolo Limu-Jones, who went nine for 93 yards in his first outing against Idaho, is second in the Big Sky in both receptions per game (8.0) and yards per game (116.0). Freddie Roberson is fourth in both per game metrics (5.6 catches, 83.4 yards), while Andrew Boston is eighth in receptions per game (4.8) and fifth in yards per game (72.5). Running back Tamarack Pierce averages 5.9 yards per carry and is third in the Big Sky with 73.2 rushing yards per game.

Former Vandal Ty Graham leads the Eastern Washington defense with 8.2 tackles per game. Joshua Jerome’s three sacks are good for fourth in the Big Sky. While Chris Ojoh has made waves for opting into the transfer portal in the middle of the season, key returners Jack Sendelbach and Calin Criner (son of former Vandal defensive coordinator Mark) saw their first action of the season against UC Davis and are expected to start.

Key to the Game:
Can the Idaho front seven contain Barriere’s scrambles and limit the damage Eastern will do offensively?

Game Predictions:
Producer Dallas: Eastern Washington has won sixteen straight games at Roos Field, by an average score of 52-23 (props to Dave Cook, the EWU Assistant Athletic Director for Communications, for this statistic.) They average over 40 points a game and are second in the nation in passing yards per game (402.2). In their last game of the season, they are going to be looking to make an impression on the committee to get one of the five at-large bids for the FCS playoffs, and feasting on the Idaho secondary is their way to do that. I just don’t see Idaho having the horsepower on offense, or the coverage in the secondary, to keep this close. EWU wins, 52-21.
Chris: Idaho 28-27
Brian: EWU 35-21
Alex: EWU 31-21

Predictions Standings:
Producer Dallas, Chris: 3-1
Alex: 2-2
Brian: 1-3

One thought on “Big Damm Preview: Game 5 – Idaho vs. #9 Eastern Washington 4/10/21

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