Tubs Preseason Big Sky Poll

We submitted three polls to the conference office. Here is how the three of us voted and why.

Chris
Brian
Dallas
1Weber StateMontanaWeber State
2EWUMontana StateEWU
3MontanaWeber StateMontana
4UC DavisEWUSac State
5Montana StateSac StateMontana State
6NAUUC DavisUC Davis
7Idaho StateIdahoIdaho State
8IdahoIdaho StateNAU
9SUUUNCIdaho
10Sac StateSUUSUU
11Cal PolyPortland StatePortland State
12UNCNAUUNC
13Portland StateCal PolyCal Poly

For those of you that read our Preseason All-Conference Team post you can see our picks for All-Conference lead to our opinions on our polls.

Further Explanations

Chris:

  • Weber State at 1 – The Wildcats return possibly the best Secondary in the FCS. Three members of the secondary made our All-Tubs Team. Bronson Barron (technically a true freshman still) had barely been on campus and had to compete for starting job last season. That is not the case this fall, he will be receiving all the reps. Pair that with former Jerry Rice Award winner Josh Davis and an emerging stable of backs returning. The Achilles heel of this program, the offense, has to take a step forward. Even if the offense doesn’t improve, they have still won four straight Big Sky titles. Why would I bet against them?

  • Montana at 3 – Look even with some “?” still at QB. This team returns a lot of talent. How bad could it be when you get to throw to Maybe the best WR in the FCS, Sammy Akem. If the QB works out, they could easily win the conference. But right now with Weber returning Bronson & Eastern returning EB3, I gave them the SMALL nod over the Griz. Its going to be a close race this year.

  • Sacramento State at 10 – I understand I’m sticking my neck out with this one. I just think the 2019 season was a flash in the pan. I expect this team to be closer to their 42-28 home playoff loss to start the playoffs, more then the 49-22 win vs the Griz. The Hornets in my opinion benefited greatly from being a sleeper until about half way through the 2019 season, an out of nowhere QB (who has since transferred out) and no one having tape on first time head ball coach Troy Taylor. I expect them to struggle early and maybe make a charge late. Are they the 10th best team in conference probably not, probably a bit better. But weeks 1 thru 6 I expect them to play below where most people have them. Most throw out the easy schedule this year as a reason to have them high. I think the easy schedule will catch them sleep walking with rust early. Though lighting can strike the same spot twice…

Brian:

  • Weber State at 3 – Defending Big Sky champion Weber State (finally) looks vulnerable. The Wildcats won a single spring game by a margin greater than a touchdown–with all of those nail biters coming against teams that will be picked in the bottom half of this fall’s season–but Weber’s schedule, and Jay Hill’s tendency to just never lose games he shouldn’t, makes a 6-2 (in conference) floor all but locked in.

  • Idaho at 7 – This vote was a strict judgement of talent–which should put Idaho not in the top tier of the conference, but close enough to talk yourself into yet another but maybe this year discussion.

    Which is lunacy.

    We all know the Idaho blueprint from the previous three years: stay competitive at home, but faceplant on the road. Hang with, or knock off a playoff-level team, then stumble in comical fashion against the Northern Colorados, or Northern Arizonas occupying league’s bottom tier. Never mind that Idaho has its toughest league schedule since rejoining the Big Sky. 

    So yes: in my written-in-blood preseason poll, Idaho sits at number seven. And yes: the moment my poll was officially sent, I could not believe their slot was higher than ten.

  • Northern Colorado at 9 – Consider Northern Colorado a composite character of Idaho, Idaho State, Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona: it’s an absolute crap shoot rating any of those teams above each other. Before the Bears land higher than ninth, we’ll need to see the fruits of Coach McCaffrey produce. The talent influx following McCaffrey alone will make Northern Colorado at least good enough to spoil someone else’s playoff hopes, but with the promising spring efforts from other projected lower-tier teams, there’s too crowded a field of candidates to repeat the out-of-nowhere rises of UC Davis and Sacramento State to rate Northern Colorado much higher.   

Dallas:

  • Eastern Washington at 2 – Eric Barriere is one of the best players in the entire FCS, and when you have a quarterback like him running the show, you’re going to have at least a puncher’s chance in every game. Yes, their questionable defense allowed 35 straight points in the first round of the spring playoffs to a weakened North Dakota State. Yes, the receivers drop more passes than they should. Yes, they have an extremely tough conference schedule this year. But, their three toughest games (Montana, Montana State, Weber State) are all in Cheney this year and I’d expect they win two of the three to keep themselves just behind Weber in the conference standings. Even in their last true down year (2015, when Vernon Adams transferred to play his final year at Oregon), they tied for fourth in conference, going 5-3 with two losses to ranked teams.

  • UC Davis at 6 – UC Davis has a deep cast of receivers, a solid defense (as Vandal fans likely remember), and one of the best running backs in the conference. QB Hunter Rodrigues had 21 FCS passes to his name coming into 2021 and may have benefited more from the spring season than any other athlete. So why do I have them sixth? Weber State, Eastern Washington, and the Montana schools certainly look better on paper and should all slot in as top five finishers, even if they trade losses around. I don’t see the Aggies beating Weber State (and yes, I know they had a double digit lead on the Wildcats last season) or Eastern Washington. Even if they beat Sacramento State in the Causeway Classic to finish the year, I don’t think a game in hand on the Hornets helps, courtesy of the absolute gift of a schedule Sacramento State got this year. Nothing against UC Davis, but a top five finish doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

  • Idaho at 9 – Every year it seems I talk myself into Idaho finally becoming a bully in the Big Sky. Take one look at the schedule and you’ll realize why I’m not doing that this year. The Vandals could be favored in three of their four home conference games, but even if they won out at home with an upset of Montana, they will not be favored in a single road game this season. I don’t think they win a single game outside of Moscow this year, even without Paul Petrino’s track record of failure away from the Kibbie Dome. There’s plenty of talent on this team, just like there was in the spring, but I don’t see any reason to believe that it magically clicks this season. 4-4 in conference is the ceiling for this team if things go well, and 2-6 is certainly on the table. We’re looking at another long year.

MOSoccerCOW

What a season for Vandal soccer! In the preseason Idaho was picked 7th out of 10 in the Big Sky Conference. They ended up finishing 2nd in the northwest division to earn a spot in conference post-season. Lets take this momentum and turn it into something! I want to explain why I think Vandal fans should become soccer fans as well. Lets support this program like never before next season. Give me a chance to explain why.

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you know I am a soccer fan as well as a football fan I used to love going to Guy Wicks Field when I was in college and watch our ladies’ team play. I’d even watch the men’s club team on the Sprinturf.

2014 Copa 90 on Seattle Sounder Supporters Culture

Now, I did not grow up a soccer fan. In fact, I used to joke about the sport. But I did always find it odd soccer wasn’t bigger collegiately. Soccer is insanely popular as a youth sport in Idaho, especially the Treasure Valley. But when the Seattle Sounders moved to the MLS in 2009, I bit, hook, line and sinker.

The Northwest loves their soccer. What would it take to bring a supporter’s culture like the ones in Seattle & Portland to Moscow?

First step is to get the students involved. The growth of interest in the sport has been led by Millennials and Gen Z. Being in a supporters section is a lot like being in the student section at a college hoops or football game, just a tad more organized and can be even more fun.

Idaho has an organized student section that, if we are being honest, could use a shot in the arm and a rebrand: The Vandalizers. Now, I don’t want to totally steal them from basketball, though they have noticeably decreased in numbers over the years. Rebranding them as an organized student supporter section for soccer could get some new students interested in the organization. Soccer is played in the fall, so it would be a good way to refill the Vandalizers roster and get them in larger numbers at hoops games in the winter.

2015 Copa 90 on Portland Timbers Supporters Culture

Because supporter culture is so important in soccer, the supporter groups are what make soccer unique. It is marching to the match, singing and chanting all match, and tifos. How cool would it be to have organized march from the “I Bench” at admin building and walk down “Hello Walk” to the Kibbie. Then reveal an amazing tifo poking fun at Boise State, Montana, Eastern or Idaho State and then chanting and singing all match long!

I get that this will make no sense to some people. The demographic for soccer is typically younger. Millennials (recent grads) started the boost in interest. Zoomers (current students) are the the turing tide demographic for the sport. While Generation Alpha (upcoming students) are expected to take Soccer into the modern era of fandom, which is why a league like the MLS is expected to pass leagues such as MLB, NHL & NBA in popularity, meaning this is more of a question of when, then if.

Creating a soccer culture, specifically female, would set the University apart. Most of the major soccer Universities also have a men’s team. Idaho does not. We can fully invest into our women’s program and make it the envy of many.

Photo Credit: GoVandals.com

We already have seen glimpses of what could be. In 2017 vs Boise State, we drew 4,171 spectators, in 2019 it drew 2,169. That is impressive for a mid-major school. To put that in perspective, in this millennium, the Stanford men’s team’s largest attended home game was 2,919 vs Cal. In fact, in 2018 UConn led the men’s average attendance with 3,213. We are talking about men’s soccer. Traditionally, men’s sports draw larger attendance. Tell me this isn’t doable for the Idaho women? Fun fact, in 2017 Idaho was already 36th in the country in average attendance, and 30th in total attendance and we weren’t even trying!

The only schools really trying on the women’s side to create a soccer culture and big time atmosphere are Portland and BYU. This is setting up to have some viral home and home moments. With these two programs out west, we could easily schedule both, especially if all three programs create the standard for women’s soccer attendance.

We all have watched the USWNT see extreme success on the field and in the stands. If Idaho has a shot at a national title, women’s soccer could be built into one. There just isn’t a school, alumni base and student section really behind their programs. So why not us?

The team on its own is primed to be worth watching as well. Four All-Big Sky players this season. Manager Jeremy Clevenger won Big Sky coach of the year as well. The blocks are in place to stay winners.

The sport is undoubtedly growing, let’s be at the forefront for once!

I would love to see this movement start gaining steam, even if I personally have to spearhead it! If I was Terry Gawlik and the Athletic Department, I would be planning for a triple header of sorts for Idaho Homecoming next year. Friday night at the bonfire, give out the 2021 scarves for free, lead a chant with the newly rebranded Vandalizers and lead a march into the dome for kickoff against an awesome regional opponent (preferably not BSU) and anyone with a ticket to Saturday afternoon’s football game or the ICCU Arena court opening game Saturday evening gets in for free, everyone else is $5 a ticket.

Pack the dome Friday, Saturday and the new hardwood twice all in 48 hours!

BSPN:Week 4 Power Rankings

Reminder this is a “Power Ranking.” It means different things to different people. Some view it as the best team, some view it as hottest team at the moment. At the end of the year, the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings. We had 13 voters this week.

This piece is suppose to be rather nuetral…. I’m going to try and keep that the case. However, this poll is one I have disagreed with the most. Just an extra disclaimer this is not my personal poll.

This week [Last week] Team – Point total (First Place Votes)

1.[1] Weber State Wildcats – 104 (13)

Showed fight to battle back from a 10-0 defecit at halftime, to finish the game on an 18-3 run. Winning 18-13 vs #23 UC Davis. Freshman signal caller Bronson Barron looked more human this week, Luckily for the Wildcats, they have a STACKED backfield.

They shouldnt be challenged the rest of the season. Punch their ticket now to playoffs.

T2.[2] UC Davis Aggies – 81

It looked like they were going to put in the performance of the year in the Big Sky. Went into halftime up 10-0. End up falling on the road.

This is where my issue with this poll takes place. Somehow and amazing performance aginst the #2 team in the country on the road, after a top 25 win @ Idaho to start the season, and they are tied with our next team… Who lost to Idaho in same venue and took until closing seconds to beat Idaho State.

If im an Aggies fan I am excited to be #2 and should get the at-large spot for playoffs. But man would I be pissed we share this spot with the Eagles.

T2.[3] Eastern Washinton Eagles – 81

Terrible… Could easily be 1-2.

Wideouts can’t catch, while amazing, Eric Barrierre still has some accuracy issues, coaching seems suspect on most levels, this team is reeling. No matter how much voters in this poll want to pretend they are not.

If you flopped their results with UC Davis’. Davis would probably be ranked in our 4-7 range. But because it’s Eastern somehow they move up a spot to number 2 after a embarrasing win.

End of the day, a win is a win. Can’t stress enough how much I disagree with this. But heck, its a power ranking and apparently half the voters(ish) disagree with me.

4.[4] Idaho Vandals – 62

When you dont play. It’s hard to move. Good news the postponed NAU game is rescheduled to April 17th.

5.[6] Idaho State Bengals- 49

Impressive or luck? Thats what people are wondering with the Bengals. Two close games at home vs teams whose level of play and spot within Big Sky is being sorted out (EWU & SUU)

6.[8] Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 39

WOW! Just Wow! After last week being most consensus last place team. With only one pollster not having them in last (wonder who, that could be?).

They beat the snot out of Cal Poly. That team everyone thought was going to be good.

T-birds getting way more respect this week, as Demario Warren & Justin Miller might just be out to prove the world wrong.

Dont look now, Southern Utah is 8 seconds away from being 3-0….

7.[7] Northern Arizona Lumberjacks – 29

When you dont play. It’s hard to move. Good news the postponed Idaho game is rescheduled to April 17th.

8.[5] Cal Poly Mustangs – 15

What a drop! Good news, they outscored Thunderbirds 17-3 in 2nd half. They “probably” are not a last place team.

They just had to shake off the rust. If you’re a Stang fan, chin-up. It may not get better this week vs #23 UC Davis. But highly unlikely you go winless. Could still sneak out 2 to 3 wins I would imagine.

BSPN: Week 3 Power Rankings

Reminder this is a “Power Ranking.” It means different things to different people. Some view it as the best team, some view it as hottest team at the moment. At the end of the year, the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings. We had 14 voters this week.

This week [Last week] Team – Point total (First Place Votes)

1. [1] Weber State Wildcats – 117 (14 First place votes)

The Wildcats re-secure their one lost first place vote. There have been 44 votes placed so far this season and Weber has had 43 of those first-place votes, even though they did not play last week.

2. [4] UC Davis Aggies – 92

The Aggies make about as big of a jump as the 4th quarter they put together in the Kibbie Dome Saturday. Trailing most the game, they owned the 4th quarter for a ten-point win on the road to open the spring season.

Got Weber next, will they be in the 1 spot next week?

3. [3] Eastern Washington Eagles – 84

The Eagles take care of business. It did little for their position in the power rankings. Their opponent however, not so lucky.

Another bottom-half power ranking team up next. How big do they need to win by to move up?

4. [2] Idaho Vandals – 76

Another year of a big upset win vs Top 15 Eastern Washington only to give a let down performance the following week. The Vandals lose at home to UC Davis. Though down 7 or 8 starters, the result was telling enough that they drop two spots this week.

They are behind Eastern Washington, who they just beat two weeks ago. Typical up and down Big Sky.

5. [6] Cal Poly Mustangs – 45

They still have not played, yet they have moved up in the rankings? This week will be telling as they open vs Southern Utah.

6. [8] Idaho State Bengals – 43

The Bengals get a big win this week against our new last place team. The win was enough to get the Bengals out of the cellar.

Tyler Vander Waal played much better this week vs the Thunderbirds with 238 yards, 3 TDS and 0 INTS. Maybe more impressive is the 56 yards on the ground.

Tough test this week at home vs EWU.

7. [5] Northern Arizona Lumberjacks– 31

Lumberjacks had people believing they could be sneaky good this year.

It appears our voters are on the shockingly bad train at this point in the season.

8. [7] Southern Utah Thunderbirds– 18

The poor Thunderbirds have played in two very close matchups thus far this season. Losing on a walk-off touchdown vs NAU in week one, and a 30 yard field goal vs the Bengals with 5 seconds left in week two.

Cal Poly is next. Rust paired with and offensive system change, can SUU maybe be the team with the walk-off this week and get back out of the 8 spot? We will see!

Big Sky Podcast Network Big Sky Conference Football Power Rankings: Week 12

Somehow, we have just two more weeks left in the conference season. We know Weber State, Sacramento State, and Montana will play on. Montana State might need another win, and UC Davis can still dream if they win out. The rest of the league is playing for pride, next season’s narrative, and if a few athletic departments are less broke than average, a few coaches might feel their seats growing a bit warm.

 

Playing for Byes

 

1. Weber State
Conference:
6-0
Overall: 8-2
Last Week: Win vs. North Dakota (30-27)
This Week: at Montana
Key Stat: Weber State is 2-0 versus current top-10 teams (Northern Iowa and Sacramento State).
Another Key Stat (conference only): In six conference games, the Wildcats have allowed just three rushing touchdowns.

2. Sacramento State
Conference:
5-1
Overall: 7-3
Last Week: at Win at Northern Arizona (38-34)
This Week: at Idaho
Key Stat (conference only): Defensive lineman George Obinna leads the Big Sky in sacks (9.0) and tackles for loss (11.0).

3. Montana
Conference:
5-1
Overall: 8-2
Last Week: vs. Idaho
This Week: vs. Weber State
Key Stat (conference only): Montana allows both the second fewest yards per carry (3.2ypa), and the second fewest rushing yards per game (112.2ypg).
Another Key Stat (conference only): Running back Marcus Knight has more rushing touchdowns himself (12 TDs) than seven Big Sky teams (Cal Poly, UD Davis, Idaho, Idaho State, NAU, SUU, and UNC).

In a Different World, We Could All Be Each Other


4. Montana State
Conference:
4-2
Overall: 7-3
Last Week: Win at Northern Colorado (45-14)
This Week: at UC Davis
Key Stat (conference only): Montana State leads the Big Sky in rushing offense (256.7ypg), but due to injuries, no Bobcats are among the conference’s top ten leaders in rushing yards.
Another Key Stat (conference only): The Bobcats have three players (Troy Anderson, Amandre Williams, and Derek Marks) among the league’s top ten in tackles for loss.

5. Eastern Washington
Conference:
4-2
Overall: 5-5
Last Week: Win at Idaho State (48-5)
This Week: vs. Cal Poly
Key Stat (conference only): Quarterback Eric Barriere’s 370.2 total yards per game leads the conference by an average of 51 yards per game (Case Cookus: 319.2ypg).

6. UC Davis
Conference:
3-3
Overall: 5-5
Last Week: Win at Portland State (45-28)
This Week: vs. Montana State
Key Stat (conference only): Since throwing three interceptions in a loss at North Dakota, quarterback Jake Maier has thrown 13 touchdowns and two interceptions, while completing 66 percent of his passes.
Another Key Stat (conference only): After opening Big Sky play with 102 combined rushing yards in losses to Montana and North Dakota, running back Ulonzo Gilliam has averaged 150 rushing yards per game.

 

The Best of the Worst

 

7. Portland State
Conference:
3-4
Overall: 5-6
Last Week: Loss vs. UC Davis (45-28)
This Week: Bye
Key Stat (conference only): Portland State’s three Big Sky wins have come against teams (Idaho, Southern Utah, and Northern Colorado) with a combined conference record of 5-14.

8. Northern Arizona
Conference:
2-4
Overall: 4-6
Last Week: Loss vs. Sacramento State (38-34)
This Week: at Southern Utah
Key Stat (conference only): Northern Arizona has held opponents to fewer than 450 total yards just once (Montana State: 443), while allowing an average of 540.8 yards per game.

9. Idaho
Conference:
2-4
Overall: 4-6
Last Week:
Loss at Montana (42-17)
This Week: vs. Sacramento State
Key Stat (conference only): In five Big Sky starts, quarterback Mason Petrino has accounted for seven touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) and 12 turnovers (seven interceptions, five lost fumbles).
Another Key Stat (conference only): The Vandals have both the third worst scoring offense (23.7 points per game) and the third worst total offense (393 yards per game).

 

Mercifully, It’s Just Two Weeks

 

10. Cal Poly
Conference:
1-5
Overall: 2-7
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. Eastern Washington
Key Stat (conference only): Cal Poly has both the Big Sky’s worst scoring offense (20.8 points per game) and worst total offense (323.8 yards).

11. Northern Colorado
Conference:
2-4
Overall: 2-8
Last Week: Loss vs. Montana State (45-14)
This Week: at North Dakota
Key Stat (conference only): Northern Colorado has the league’s worst scoring margin (-13.5 points per game).

12. Southern Utah
Conference:
1-5
Overall: 2-8
Last Week: Bye
This Week: vs. Northern Arizona
Key Stat: Southern Utah’s two FCS wins have come against teams (Stephen F. Austin and Idaho State) with a combined FCS record of 4-13.

13. Idaho State
Conference:
2-5
Overall: 3-7
Last Week: Loss vs. Eastern Washington (48-5)
This Week: at BYU (FBS)
Key Stat (conference only): During Idaho State’s active four-game losing streak, opposing quarterbacks have thrown 13 touchdowns and two interceptions, while Bengal quarterbacks have thrown five touchdowns and nine interceptions.