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!

Fixing Idahos Future Schedule

The Big Sky Conference did fans and schools a huge favor last year by releasing the future conference schedules through 2023. Benefiting the schools, by now knowing exactly what dates they have open to schedule out of conference opponents.

For Idaho fans, this is a bit of a downer. You will notice there are not many out of conference games that catch the eye. Even less will be beneficial towards a playoff appearance. I will grade each current schedule, then provide my realistic fixes to each season.

2020 Schedule

Schedule-2020Since the 2020 season kickoff, is in only 7 months, the schedule is set in stone. week 1 Idaho opens the season against a division 2 side in Western Oregon. The week 2 Temple game is a return trip from the 2013 independent season when Idaho hosted the owls and went on to win the game 26-24. The Vandals wrap up in Week 3 with the Battle for the Palouse. This game is a replacement game for the canceled 4 game series made with San Jose State. Who pulled out because of Idaho’s move to the FCS.

Current Grade: C+

Idaho did the best with what they had on short notice. Getting Washington State to pay $550,000 to drive eight miles is an A+. However not getting out of a temple game from 2013 is a C-. Then the Western Oregon game is a D. The conference schedule paired with the Washington State game, the Vandals will leave the Palouse once in eight weeks. During the season Idaho only travels to Philadelphia, Davis California, Pullman Washington, Cheney Washington, Bozeman Montana, Pocatello Idaho. That’s likely only 2 flights. Far removed from the Sun Belt days.

How To Fix it:

Too little too late. But the division 2 game against Western Oregon is a drag to see. At least it only costs Idaho $80,000. Meaning the out of conference schedule will net Idaho $470,000. That helps the budget.

2021 Schedule

In 2021 Idaho opens at home vs Canadian side Simon Fraser. Back-to-back years with week 1 division 2 or lower team to start the season.Then pack their bags for week 2 body bag game against Big Ten program Indiana (will see them again). Closing out the non-conference schedule with another power five game in Corvallis against Oregon State.

Current Grade: C

Any division 2 or lower game from this year forward is to be met with a grade of an F. Idaho needs division 1 wins to qualify for the playoffs. In a conference as tough as the Big Sky. Indiana is an interesting power five game. It isn’t local, but it isn’t bad. Indiana isn’t exactly a world beater, this could be winnable power five program for Idaho. The Hoosers did go 9-0 against the FCS last decade. Indiana is paying Idaho 1.2 Million to go to Bloomington with a outside chance to win. That’s an A- grade for scheduling. To close out the out of conference schedule, Idaho gets to play the Beavers. Arguably, the worst Pac 12 program in the previous decade. A winnable, local power five game, that will pat the coffers with an additional $675,0000. This will get an A+.

Unlike 2020, the Big Sky did Idaho no favors in conference. Idaho will have a bye week in week 4. The Vandals will then have four weeks before they are back in the friendly confines of the Kibbie Dome. Followed by more road games. When week 9 rolls around it will only be the third home game of the year and only second vs division 1 competition.

The budget will be helped by netting 1.875 million before paying Simon Fraser $80,000.

How To Fix It:

Schedule-2021Nothing needs to be done with Oregon State & Indiana. The payouts and winablility of these games are perfect. Even if the Indiana game is an odd match-up. The real trick here is copying what the Vandals pulled off in 2019, with scheduling Eastern Washington out of conference. Due to the Big Sky having protected rivals every three years Idaho will not play Idaho State in the “Battle Of The Domes”. Tubs at The Club has been very vocal on this Issue that Idaho & Idaho State needs to become a rivalry game.

Putting this game week 1 would be a good move. Idaho can do better. The FCS has a weekend all to itself called “Week 0”. The highlight that weekend is the Guardian FCS Kickoff game. Instead of Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas (2020) or Samford v Youngstown State (2019). What if the game featured two In-state rivals? In 2020 the game is to be played in Pocatello & in 2022 it is to be played in Moscow. Creating a conundrum for a 2021 match-up.

Two solutions

First is the winner of the overall battle of the domes in 2020 gets to host the game and repeat this every three years when game is off the schedule. Split the revenue 50/50 after reimbursing travel to road team and operating cost of the host team.

The other options is a bit more controversial. Play it in Boise. Its 235 Miles from Pocatello & 295 Miles from Moscow. Boise is both schools largest alumni base. There is bound to be the “No way we are stepping on that blue field to give Boise State the satisfaction” agruement. I have previously mentioned this will be almost an insult to them if both Schools can sell out Bronco Stadium. Something they have seldom done recently. A nuetral stadium is on the way if the City of Boise can ever get out of their own way in building a beautiful new stadium. This is only going to be an issue every three years.

Get this game on ESPN for Week 0 and showcase The State, The Conference & The FCS level of football.

2022 Schedule

Kicking the Season off with a rivalry game in Pullman. For more money than they paid us in 2020. Then the Vandals return to Bloomington Indiana for the second time in as many years. This time collecting 1.3 Million Dollars. Then Idaho plays its first lower tier FCS program in the newly released schedules, Drake. In 2022 Idaho will play all Division 1 opponents for the first time since 2017.

It is a well spaced out schedule for home games, road games and a mid-season bye week.

Current Grade: B+

Schedule-20222022 currently is the year Idaho gets paid more, to do the same. A+

Anytime Idaho can get Washington State on the schedule every couple of years it is a positive. This is the type of Power five game Idaho should be scheduling. Ideally in a decade Idaho will play Washington State 3-4 times. The Likes of a Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado, Utah each once. Then a bigger game like Texas A&M, Penn State, LSU or Florida State once just to have the experience.

Indiana is paying Idaho $100,000 more to come play them again in 2022 then they did in 2021. Most would assume this game to be favorable in 2022. More so with a previous appearance in Bloomington just 12 months prior. Grade this game an A.

The Big Skys whacky scheduling means no Montana State this season. That earns a D. Not the Athletic Departments fault, but it is what it is.

How To Fix It:

Drake is what drags this schedule down to a B+. Idaho should be scheduling low tier FCS teams to help with playoff qualification. Problem with the Drake game, Idaho is paying Drake $250,000 to come play in the Kibbie Dome. Taking a large bite out of the Washington State & Indiana earnings. Idaho should try and schedule these types of games as home & homes. Keeping the profit made from bodybag games.

The other change. Find a way to make the games marketable. The fanbase will be as fired up for the Drake game as they were for Western New Mexico State in 2018. Joining the Big Sky-Missouri Valley Challenge would be fun for the fanbase. Might even help with some of the steadfast FBSers. What better school to participate against in Idahos first go at the challenge than the Bobby Petrino led Missouri State Bears? Idaho is in need of a home game to complete the schedule. Putting the first meeting in the Kibbie Dome. The place where Bobby Petrino spent three seasons as QB coach and Offensive Coordinator from 89-91. Before Paul Petrino came to coach WR,QB & RBs from 92-94. Later taking the role as Head Ball Coach in 2013. They have never coached against each other and this would put people in the seats & eyes on the TV.

If Missouri State is not open to the idea. Montana State has week 3 open.

2023 Schedule

Schedule-2023The first year where the Vandals have a true opening where they can pick anyone. As the schedule stands now, the Vandals have no opponents for week 1 or week 3.  Expect a team to be named shortly. Then the Vandals play in Reno Nevada against a former Big Sky and WAC foe in University of Nevada-Reno. Then in week 8 Idaho will face Dixie State in St.George Utah. Who will be a full fledge FCS member, counting as a division 1 game.

Current Grade: A-

Overall a great schedule. Play a former conference rival for the 30th time in the Nevada Wolfpack. In a very fun place for fans to travel to. A+.

You play what should be a lower tier local FCS squad in Dixie State in Moscow. The start of a 3 games series with the Trailblazers. The Big Sky helps out by giving equal spacing between home and away games. It all comes down to Idaho not messing it up by scheduling a bad opponent in week 3 causing a week 1 bye week.

How To Fix It:

Change nothing in the actual schedule except attempt to schedule Dixie State week 3 opening up a later season bye week. Then per my 2022 schedule suggestions return the favor on the home & home with Missouri State in week 1 (currently open)

Bobby Petrino left Western Kentucky after 1 year and the Atlanta Falcons after just 13 games in the middle of the season. The odds he is still coaching at Missouri State in three seasons are slim.

Even Paul Petrino is up in the air at the moment to be at Idaho in 2022. His contract is through 2023. However, is on the hot seat. The 2022 season is the first real strong possibile season he could be fired. If he doesn’t start winning. 2022 is when the amount he would be owed would be reasonable.

Leaving the chance that neither Petrino is at their current job for even the 2022 game. Let alone the 2023 game. Even without one or both of the Petrinos. Missouri State is the type of team Idaho needs to start scheduling if they want to return to being a top flight Big Sky team and perennial playoff contender.

2024, 2025 & Beyond

The Big Sky hasn’t released conference schedules for these years yet. The Vandals do know in 2024 they travel to Dixie State and Oregon. Then host Dixie State and then “Travel” To the Battle of the Palouse. Everything this far out is subject to change.

In Review

Understand the unique position Idaho is in. The Vandals schedule problems are caused by the 2013 independent season. Then compounded upon with move from FBS to FCS.

The suggestions made were realistic changes. Not fantasy changes impossible for Terry Gawlik (Idaho Athletic Director) to deliver. The current scheduling issues are not her decisions. These games were scheduled before she had taken office. The only two scheduling announcements while Gawlik has be the Athletic Director (2022 Drake 2023 Nevada & Dixie State Series). Both announcements were ideal additions to the schedule. The ultimate goal for 2023 is a balanced athletics budget. Allowing future scheduling to be more open, minimize travel, but maximize payouts. The Ideal realistic schedule 2024 and on is Pac 12 School, winnable Mountain West school & home and home with a lower tier FCS program.

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.

 

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

We’re halfway through the conference season, with the game of the year (Weber State at Sacramento State) this Saturday. Preseason darlings EWU and UC Davis are officially playoff spoilers, Montana looked alright (for a week) without Dalton Sneed, and Southern Utah pulled off the unthinkable and won a conference game. As always, our positions are dictated by votes from members of the Big Sky Podcast Network, as well as some of our favorite media figures covering the Big Sky, while Brian Marceau puts down our thoughts.

 
Jockeying For A Seed


1. Weber State
Conference:
4-0
Overall: 6-2
Last Week: Win at UC Davis (36-20)
This Week: at Sacramento State.
Key Stat (conference only): Weber State pairs the top total defense (339.5 yards allowed per game) with the third best scoring offense (39.2 points per game).
Another Key Stat (conference only): The Wildcats gain an average of 256.5 yards per game on the ground while surrendering just 80.5 rushing yards per game.


2. Sacramento State
Conference:
4-0
Overall: 6-2
Last Week: Win at Cal Poly (38-14)
This Week: vs. Weber State
Key Stat (conference only): Sacramento State owns the Big Sky’s best scoring offense (42.2 points per game) and best scoring defense (21 points per game).


3. Montana
Conference:
3-1
Overall: 6-2
Last Week: Win vs. Eastern Washington (34-17)
This Week: at Portland State
Key Stat (conference only): Montana has outscored Big Sky teams 94-30 in the second half.
Another Key Stat: Through four Big Sky games, running back Marcus Knight has rushed for eight touchdowns, and 13 total touchdowns on the season.

Too Good For The Rest, Too Bad For The Top


4 (Tie). Montana State
Conference:
2-2
Overall: 5-3
Last Week: Loss at North Dakota (16-12)
This Week: vs. Southern Utah
Key Stat (conference only): The Bobcats’ defense has allowed just 367.8 yards per game (second best in conference) and 13 touchdowns (tied for third best).
Another Key Stat (conference only): Montana State’s offense accrues 384.5 yards per game (second worst).  

Ruining Seasons (Including Our Own)


4 (Tie). Northern Arizona
Conference:
2-2
Overall: 4-4
Last Week: Win vs. Portland State (31-29)
This Week: vs. Eastern Washington
Key Stat (conference only): NAU’s league worst rush defense (254 yards per game, 15 TDs allowed, 5.4 yards per attempt in conference) has contributed to the Lumberjacks’ league worst time of possession (22:57).
Another Key Stat (conference only): NAU wide receiver Stacy Chukwumezie leads the Big Sky in receiving yards per game (110 yards), while fellow wide receiver Brandon Porter is third (98 yards per game).


6. Eastern Washington
Conference:
2-2
Overall: 3-5
Last Week: Loss at Montana (34-17)
This Week: vs. Northern Arizona
Key Stat (conference only): EWU ranks middle of the Big Sky in: scoring offense (sixth), scoring defense (seventh), rushing offense (sixth), rushing defense (seventh), pass defense (fifth), and total defense (sixth).


7. UC Davis
Conference:
2-3
Overall: 4-5
Last Week: Loss vs. Weber State (36-20)
This Week: Bye
Key Stat (conference only): In spite the production out of quarterback Jake Maier (288.2 passing yards per game, 12 TD passes) and running back Ulonzo Gilliam (92 rushing yards per game), UC Davis’ 10th ranked Big Sky offense has been outgained by an average of 56.4 yards per game (417.2 to 473.6).

Still Telling Ourselves It’s All Okay


8. Portland State
Conference:
3-2
Overall: 5-4
Last Week: Loss at Northern Arizona (31-29)
This Week: vs. Montana
Key Stat: The combined conference record of Portland State’s Big Sky wins (Southern Utah, Idaho, and Northern Colorado) is 3-10.
Another Key Stat: The combined conference record of Portland State’s Big Sky losses (Idaho State and Northern Arizona) is 4-5.

9. Idaho
Conference:
2-3
Overall: 3-5
Last Week:
Bye
This Week: vs. Cal Poly
Key Stat (conference only): Idaho forfeits an average of 100.2 penalty yards per game. The next closest team (NAU) forfeits an average of 68.8 penalty yards per game.

Another Key Stat: The Vandals have zero conference road wins since rejoining the Big Sky. Idaho’s last conference road win came as members of the Sun Belt (FBS) on December 2, 2017 at Georgia State.
Another Key Stat: Idaho is 5-2 at home against Big Sky teams (six conference, one nonconference) since rejoining the Big Sky.

Our Super Bowl Is Against Each Other


Southern Utah
Conference:
1-4
Overall: 2-7
Last Week: Win vs. Idaho State (59-34)
This Week: at Montana State
Key Stat: In two multiple-score Big Sky losses (at Portland State, at Weber State), Southern Utah had a turnover margin of -7. In its two one-score Big Sky losses (vs. Cal Poly, vs. UC Davis) and last week’s win (vs. Idaho State), the Thunderbirds had a turnover margin of +3.


Idaho State
Conference:
2-3
Overall: 3-5
Last Week: Loss at Southern Utah (59-34)
This Week: vs. Northern Colorado
Key Stat: In consecutive losses at Idaho and at Southern Utah, quarterback Matt Struck turned the ball over six times (five interceptions, one lost fumble). Four of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns (three interceptions, one lost fumble).
Another Key Stat: Idaho State has allowed no fewer than 450 yards in all five of their Big Sky games (least: 452 vs. North Dakota, most: 588 at Montana).

 Cal Poly
Conference:
1-4
Overall: 2-6
Last Week: Loss vs. Sacramento State (38-14)
This Week: at Idaho
Key Stat: In blowout losses to Big Sky teams (Weber State, UC Davis, and Sacramento State), Cal Poly surrenders an average of 521.3 yards per game. In competitive losses (Montana State, North Dakota) and Cal Poly’s lone Big Sky win (Southern Utah), the Mustangs surrendered an average of 371.6 yards per game.
Another Key Stat: On 123 carries in Big Sky play, Duy Tran-Sampson has zero rushes in excess of 16 yards.


Northern Colorado
Conference:
1-3
Overall: 1-7
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Idaho State
Key Stat (conference only): Northern Colorado owns both the second worst pass defense (316.5 yards per game) and the second worst rush defense (229.8 yards per game) in the Big Sky.