Who Will Win The Big Sky?

The Big Sky is one of the deepest conference top to bottom. Predicting a winner is difficult. Last year was my first attempt to take emotion out of it and use analytics to predict the winner. How I did this was combination of a “True Skill Ranking” and “Strength of Schedule” calculation.

Before we get into this year. It is a fair question to ask, How did last year go? How accurate is this? It is a little difficult to compare as I originally completed predicitons before five Big Sky Schools opted out of Spring. Lets look anyway with removing the teams that did not play and adjusting.

Predicted FinishTeamPredicted RecordActual FinishTeamActual Record
1Weber State6-01Weber State5-0
2E.Washington5-12E.Washington5-1
t3UC Davis4-2t3UC Davis3-2
t3N.Arizona4-2t3N.Arizona3-2
5Idaho2-4t5Idaho2-4
t-6Idaho State1-5t5Idaho State2-4
t-6Cal Poly1-57S.Utah1-5
8S.Utah0-68Cal Poly0-3

I will let you all determine if this was succesful or not, especially with last springs circumstances. But at least now you know how it did.

This season will be a test as all 13 current Big Sky Football Conference teams are playing. This is also only looking at the conference schedule. The out of conference schedule has not been included. Also the database used to calculate my True Skill rankings are not released yet. These prediciton are stricly of SOS and leave room for updating before conference kickoff.

Before we get into predicitons, lets take a look at some of the oddities of the 2nd annual Strength of Schedule Tub Table.

Obviously this system is not perfect, I am the first to acknowledge this. As Weber State (Preseason pick to win conference) benefits from not playing themselves and vice versa Northern Colorado and Cal Poly are punished for not playing themselves.

That being said it is the second time in as many seasons Weber State has the path of least resistance to win the championship. Montana State and Eastern Washington have a weird scenario too. Eastern Washington has the toughest schedule at home (Montana,Idaho,Weber & Montana State). While Montana State has toughest road schedule (Portland State, Weber State, Eastern Washington & Montana). Then they swap and Eastern has the least difficult road schedule. While Montana State has by far the easiest schedule at home. sidenote, I honestly wonder how season ticket sales are going with no Choate, 18 months of no football and a lackluster home schedule.

If you are looking for this years dark horse, Northern Arizona harbors 3rd easiest schedule and only by 2 points. The Standard Deviation for strength of schedule is 9.4. Being only 2 points off from easiest schedule is a big benefit to the lumberjacks of Flagstaff. To their defense, Shaun Rainey of SWX Montana and Colter Nuanez of Skyline Sports have been high on Portland State, Even saying they are top four in big sky. They do have 5th easiest schedule in the conference and could be one of those annual dark horses the big sky seems to get every year.

Okay enough of me nerding out over schedule strength statistics that really dont mean anything once the ball is kicked off to what you are all here for… using those useless statistics to make analytical predictions for each team in the conference.

t13. Cal Poly 0-8

t13. Northern Colorado 0-8

11. Southern Utah 1-7

t10. Portland State 2-6

t10. Idaho State 2-6

8. Idaho 3-5

t5.Northern Arizona 5-3

t5. Montana State 5-3

t5. UC Davis 5-3

t3. Eastern Washington 7-1

t3. Sac State 7-1

t1. Montana 8-0

t1. Weber State 8-0

Reminder these are not my predictions. You can tune into our live youtube show August 10th around 8 PT with Skyline Sports Colter Nuanez to hear how myself and the rest of the team think conference season will go.

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer 😉

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.

BSPN: Week 1 Power Rankings

Welcome back Big Sky football fans. It is year two of the Big Sky Podcast Networks weekly power rankings. I will do my best to fill the shoes of Brian Marceau from last year, but he is working on something special for you all.

With only eight teams playing this spring, it will be curious how much movement occurs. On top of that, the conference has brand new faces at seven of the eight starting quarterback positions, one new head coach in Beau Baldwin and one new color scheme at Idaho.

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. Meaning at the end of the year the team that wins the conference may not be No. 1 in our rankings.

  1. Weber State Wildcats – 136 (17 First place Votes)

The obvious preseason favorite and collecting all the available first place votes. The Wildcats are in a great spot for their 4th straight conference title. The question is if they’re in the running for their first national title.

2. Eastern Washington Eagles – 116

The No. 1 contender in the Sky to share the title with Weber. They received all but three 2nd-place votes. They also avoid Weber in this six-game conference schedule and have a harder schedule than the Wildcats. This being a power ranking, it will be interesting to see if they can jump Weber before season ends as most dangerous team in the Sky!

3. Idaho Vandals – 90

As the Idaho podcast guys, even we can admit it’s strange to see Idaho ranked this high! It’s a product of the five schools that dropped out, mainly. That being said, we have high hopes for this team and find this to be a fair placement. Let’s see what happens after this week’s matchup of our front seven vs Walter Payton favorite Eric Barriere.

4. UC Davis Aggies – 76

Picked as the only true challenger to Eastern back in 2019, the last time we played football. The Aggies have taken a bit of a step backwards. New quarterback, new play-caller same Dan Hawkins. Much like they were in ’18, these ponies seem to play better as a darkhorse than as a front runner.

5. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks – 62

Finally no Case Cookus at QB in Flagstaff. The past two recruiting classes have been very strong and it appears some members of BSPN have belief this team is not going to take a step back without Cookus, as they are ranked middle of the pack as usual. Can they climb?

6. Cal Poly Mustangs – 50

Beau Baldwin is back in the Big Sky. The triple-option overhaul just seems a year too early to consider Poly a true contender. Expect Coach Baldwin and his QB1, either Fresno State transfer Hunter Raquet or returning starter Jalen Hamler, to play more of the spoiler role this season. Watch out, EWU and Weber.

7. Idaho State Bengals – 26

The Bengals have lost just about everyone from the successful 2018 campaign which saw them flirt with a playoff position for most of the season, and blowout of in-state rival Idaho in the ICCU Battle of the Domes. The team consists of almost all new faces in important positions, and because of that BSPN members need them to prove it before bumping them up higher.

8. Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 18

Last year our panel of geniuses picked Sacramento State in last place. So maybe we go two-for-two on last-place picks that go on to win a share of the Big Sky title.

Projected 2021 Spring Season 2 Deeps | Idaho Vandals

We have a spring season on the way and the team has started conditioning. It is time to analyze what the team may look like February 27th in the Kibbie Dome against Northern Colorado in our opener (subject to change).

I am going to to take my best educated guess at the two-deeps going into camp.

QB

QB1 is Mike Beaudry. It has been stated by coach Petrino more than enough times to be a slip-up. We also called this back in June. There is no competition at the position for the first time since 2017. Hopefully, it leads to similar success the last time we had a starter written in pen.

CJ Jordan is your backup. With a free year of eligibility this spring, expect him to play in any blowouts. Hopefully it’s us doing the blowout. This spring, paired with the allowed 4 games in fall, it is possible CJ Jordan could have 14 games worth of experience when he takes the field as a redshirt freshman starter for the 2022 season, which is unheard of! Just give us the ship 2022-2025 now.

I would be remise, as a noted Nikhil Nayar fanboy to not say, “Don’t Sleep on Nayar!”

FB

Logan Kendall, no question. Paul has raved about him! Moving on.

RB

True Sophomore Aundre Carter surely positioned himself to win this job. However, he has left the team. No worries; don’t forget we had the exact scenario last season. Top young rusher Tyrese Walker also did not return after a standout true freshman year.

As has been the case with Petrino in the past, we’ll have a “by committee” system. The hope is somebody breaks out and takes control, as in the past with Elijhaa Penny and Isaiah Saunders. Even with Carter, Walker, and Saunders, we started to divvy carries by matchup. Thigpen played a majority of the snaps against Portland State, only to have Nick Romano take most of them the next week.

Basically, expect Romano, Thigpen & Roshaun Johnson to be the “big three.” But, both redshirt sophomore Kiahn Martinez and Khalil Forehand are poised to be this season’s out-of-nowhere stud!

WR

Let me just be straight with you… Cutrell Haywood and the field.

That said, it is not to say we don’t have talent there. We just have been blessed over the past two years to have a mix of Jeff Cotton, David Ungerer, and Cutrell Haywood. Now it’s dwindled down to just Cutrell and a log jam of depth behind him. We have legitimately 10 dudes who could be in our top four. I will just list the guys to be aware of Jermaine Jackson (Junior, No. 1), Michael Noil (Redshirt Sophomore, No. 2), Sean McCormick (Sophomore, No. 10), DJ Lee (Redshirt junior, No. 11), Kyrin Beachem (Sophomore, No. 14), Kaleb Covington (Sophomore, No. 18), Bryson Lee (Sophomore, No. 20), Hayden Hatten (Sophomore, No. 80), Daseau Puffer (Sophomore, No. 88) and Noah Ormsby (No. 89).

You probably noticed most of the players I listed have no redshirt. I would expect a majority to become Redshirt freshmen and redshirt sophomores. We need to utilize the free eligibility in the spring and find the guys to use in the fall when eligibility counts, then keep the rest on ice for upcoming seasons.

My best guess for our five-wide set would be some combo of Cutrell Haywood, DJ Lee, Hayden Hatten, Jermaine Jackson, and Daseau Puffer.

OL

I am gonna be honest here, and shame on me. I am 5-foot-5 and the furthest thing from an offensive lineman. I know zero of the dudes in the trenches. I was a running back/linebacker in my youth and a cornerback in reality in high school.

Here’s what I know about the offensive line: Mathew Faupusa is an absolute stud and the best bet to fill the gap left by Noah Johnson. Darius Archie you can pen in as a starter, along with Logan Floyd. I know I’m most likely leaving multiple important players off this list.

For the new bloods, Noah Gunn and Josh Guzik were big recruiting grabs last year. I would expect one of them to capitalize on an open spot on the line, most likely at a tackle position.

Petrino spoke highly of Jory Dotts as being a mean son of a gun. I expect him to get reps with the free eligibility.

The rest of the line is filled in based on generic assumptions and available stats.

DL

See above for what I know about this side of the trenches as well, especially after running the opposite 4-3 concept my whole life to Idaho’s 3-4. However, Rahsaan Crawford and Kayode Rufai are animals! I know that.

Then you have what I will label “the four.” People forget we have, and I make no apologies for this comment … The best front seven in the entire FCS. Vei Tomasi, Noah Elliss, Jonah Kim, and Nate DeGraw start on almost every other roster in FCS, no questions asked. It is a benefit we have them as “rotational” players.

I think Jonah Kim is best set to be penciled in as the third star of the group, simply based on the fact Paul Petrino speaks highly of him, frequently.

LB

Mark me down now: We have four All-Americans. Now, well-known FCS pundits Sam Herder, Brian McLaughlin, and Craig Haley will NEVER put all four as first, second, or third-team All-Americans. Even the North Dakota State dynasty never received such an honor. But, I will die on this hill. Tre Walker, Christian Elliss, Chuck Akanno are first-teamers. Fa’avae Fa’avae, I would wager a condo will play at that level as well. In fact, Idaho may have the best four linebackers ever to play at the FCS level. You can @ me, I dare you. But before you do, imagine this. The returning solo tackles leader in the FCS as a sophomore, the leading NFL prospect at the FCS level, or the nation’s leader in tackles for loss through 10 weeks, despite missing three of those games, all standing behind you while you’re telling me I’m wrong.

The best part is … our depth is lethal behind them too. Sully Shannon, Jalen Jenkins, Coleman Johnson, Leo Tamba, Tanner Brooks, Hogan Hatten, and Talon Davis are all capable linebackers.

The Back End

Look, if you want me to get into the semantics of safeties versus corners, I will fail you. With no offense to whoever ends up playing safety for us (outside of Zach Borisch), we have a lot of what you would call defensive backs. This is not a slight, but a reference to our squad of guys being better defined as hybrids.

Dareon Nash is an All-Conference caliber transfer from Montana at corner. If there was a “pen-in” starter on this squad, he seems to be the guy.

Now, Jalen Hoover is rumored/reported to be in the transfer portal, but he’s a starter if he returns. However, he is good enough to get an offer elsewhere. We of all programs can’t be mad at a guy who wants to take his FBS shot if it comes along.

Most interesting player on backend is Tyrese Dedmon. He has been an amazing player for us and could be suprise standout.

Others to have an eye on… No. 6 Wyryor Noil (Redshirt junior), No. 12 Arnell Walker (Freshman), No. 15 Zach Borisch (Redshirt sophomore), No. 16 Jaxson Woodward (Redshirt sophomore), No. 18 Tommy McCormick (Freshman), No. 19 Tevin Duke (Senior), No. 22 Awan Parker (Junior), No. 23 Mujeeb Rufai (Redshirt sophomore), No. 28 Colbey Nosworthy (Freshman), No. 4 Jabril Pharms (Freshman), and No. 47 Tarynce Antolin (Freshman).

That is my best guess at our two-deeps headed into camp. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below or on the twitter-sphere.

Tubs at the Club Podcast: President Scott Green

Guys, it’s been quite a while since we’ve had a President on campus which we’ve been absolutely excited about. Scott Green is here to end this existential crisis. A Moscow native, a Vandal, a proud Idahoan, the top man at the university himself joins the Tubs at the Club crew to discuss his pride in being at the Flagship university in the state of Idaho, its past and what we have planned for the future.

On the mic: Chris Hammond, Alex the Boat Man Boatman
Release date: Dec. 25, 2020

Click on the links below for our podcast pages. Embeds below!

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