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 😉

2021 All-Tubs Preseason Big Sky Conference Team

Here is our votes for the All-Conference team.

Offesensive Player of The Year: Eric Barriere! (EWU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: None

Defensive Player of The Year: Tre Walker (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Jace Lewis (UM)

Quarterback: Eric Barriere (EWU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Tyler Vander Waal (ISU)

Running Back: Ulonzo Gilliam (UCD) | Josh Davis! (WSU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Isaiah Ifanse (MSU)

Fullback: Logan Kendall! (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: NONE

Wide Receiver: Tanner Conner (ISU) | Samuel Akem (UM) | Hayden Hatten* (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Pierre Williams (SAC), Talolo Limu-Jones (EWU), Hendrix Johnson (NAU), Brandon Porter (NAU)

Tight End: Marshel Martin (SAC)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: McCallan Castles (UCD)

Offensive Line: Lewis Kidd (MSU) | Taylor Tuiasosopo (MSU) |Conner Pettek (UCD) | Ty Whitworth (WSU) | Tristen Taylor (EWU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Braxton Jones (SUU), MAtthew Faupusa (Idaho), Zach Reed (MSU), Terron Carey (ISU)

Defensive Line: George Tarlas (WSU) | Jared Scheiss! (WSU) | Alex Gubner (UM) | Charles Akanno (Idaho)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Bryce Rodgers (UCD), Mitchell Johnson (EWU), Amandre Williams (MSU)

Linebacker: Troy Anderson (MSU) | Tre Walker! (Idaho) | Jace Lewis! (UM) | La’Akea Kaho’Ohanohano-Davis! (SUU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Conner Mortensen (WSU)

Defensive Back: Eddie Heckard (WSU) | Anthony Adams! (PSU) | Preston Smith (WSU) | Desmond Williams (WSU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Jordan Perryman (UCD), Anthony Sweeney (NAU), Morgan Vest (NAU)

Kicker: Luis Aguilar! (NAU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: None

Punter: DJ Arnson (NAU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Daniel Whelan (UCD)

Returner: Rashid Shaheed (WSU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: Nick Romano (Idaho)

Long Snapper:Justin Hathoot* (NAU)

OTHER RECEIVING VOTES: JOhn Aloma (UCD), Matthew O’Donoghue (UM)

Safe to say the Big Sky is pretty deep. The previous team of the decade only has two players selected, it is a testimate to the talent in this conference. As most people would consider EWU to be dangerous again in 2021.

The Numbers By School:

Cal Poly: 0 sad face for Baldwin and co.

Eeastern Washington: 1 MVP, 2 All-Conference, 2 Honorable Mention

Idaho: 1 MVP, 4 All-Conference, 2 Honorable Mentions

Idaho state: 1 All-Conference, 2 Honorable Mentions

Montana: 1 MVP vote, 3 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Metions

Montana State: 2 All-Conference, 3 Honorable Mentions

Northern Arizona: 3 All-Conference, 4 Honorable Mentions

Northern Colorado: 0, sad face for McCaffery and co.

Portland State: 1 All-Conference

UC Davis: 2 All-Conference, 3 Honorable Mentions

Sacramento State: 1 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Mentions

Southern Utah: 1 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Mention

Weber State: 7 All-Conference, 1 Honorable Mention

The Weber State Wildcats lead the way in terms of representation. NAU almost swept special teams. We may have gone to homer on Idaho, I dont think so. Do these coordinate to our preseason conference polls? Take a look: https://tubsattheclub.com/2021/07/23/tubs-preseason-big-sky-poll/

CHRISBRIAN DALLAS
OMVPEric BarriereEric BarriereEric Barriere
DMVPTre WalkerJace LewisTre Walker
QBTyler Vander WaalEric BarriereEric Barriere
WRHendrix JohnsonTanner ConnerTanner Conner
WRSamuel AkemSamuel AkemHayden Hatten
WRBrandon PorterPierre WilliamsTalolo Limu-Jones
TLewis KiddLewis KiddBraxton Jones
TTristen Taylor Tristen Taylor
GMatthew FaupusaTaylor TuiasosopoTaylor Tuiasosopo
GZach ReedTy WhitworthTy Whitworth
CTerron CareyConnor PettekConnor Pettek
TEMcCallan CastlesMarshel MartinMashel Martin
RBUlonzo GilliamIsaiah IfanseUlonzo Gilliam
RBJosh DavisJosh DavisJosh Davis
FBLogan KendallLogan KendallLogan Kendall
PKLuis AguilarLuis AguilarLuis Aguilar
RSNick RomanoRashid ShaheedRashid Shaheed
DTJared ScheissJared ScheissJared Scheiss
DTAlex GubnerAlex GubnerBryce Rodgers
DEGeorge TarlasGeorge TarlasMitchell Johnson
DECharles AkannoCharles AkannoAmandre Williams
OLBTroy AndersonTroy AndersonConner Mortensen
OLBLa’Akea Kaho Ohanohano-DavisLa’Akea Kaho Ohanohano-DavisLa’Akea Kaho Ohanohano-Davis
ILBTre WalkerTre WalkerTre Walker
ILBJace LewisJace LewisJace Lewis
CBEddie HeckardEddie HeckardJordan Perryman
CBAnthony AdamsAnthony AdamsAnthony Adams
SAnthony SweeneyPreston SmithPreston Smith
SDesmond WilliamsDesmond WilliamsMorgan Vest
PDJ ArnsonDJ ArnsonDaniel Whelan
LSJohn AlomaMatthew OdonoghueJustin Hathoot

*** As always I’m not a journalist. so just put your gramatics comments where the sun dont shine (aka Albertson Stadium)

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

Sans Weber State, the nonconference schedule has come to a close. There’s a ton we don’t know about the mid-to-lower tier teams, but the four playoff favorites have separated themselves and begin the hunt for signature wins—starting with UC Davis and Montana. As always, votes come from the many Big Sky Podcast Network contributors and Brian Marceau fills in the rest. 

 

The Elites

 

  1. Montana State

Record: 3-1

Last Week: Win vs. Norfolk State (56-21)

This Week: vs. NAU

 

Coach Jeff Choate pulled the plug on freshman quarterback Casey Bauman with a last minute substitution of sophomore Tucker Rovig, who rewarded MSU with the type of performance (21/27, 221 yards, 4 TDs) that—if repeated—will transform the Bobcats from playoff-lock to championship contender. We’ll have to see if Rovig can deliver against real competition—Norfolk State is a lower tier FCS program—but if MSU’s already elite defense and special teams is now paired with a strong offense, the Bobcats shouldn’t see a close game until the last two weeks of the season (vs. UC Davis and Montana). Montana State was already a heavy favorite this week against NAU, but if the quarterback question is solved and both Troy Anderson and Isaiah Ifanse can return to something around 100 percent, the Bobcats will be the most complete team in the Big Sky, and maybe the entire FCS outside of North Dakota State. 

 

  1. Weber State

Record: 1-2

Last Week: Bye

This Week: vs. Northern Iowa

 

Weber State has looked good in their one FCS win (nonconference over Cal Poly) and two single-score FBS losses. It’s unclear what to think of the Wildcat offense, which scored 41 against Cal Poly, but only 13 combined in their FBS losses. What is clear is how dominant the Weber State defense has been in allowing 43 total points and an average of 345 yards against mostly FBS competition. Coach Jay Hill expects injured quarterback Jake Constantine to return from a knee injury to start this week against top 10 brethren Northern Iowa in a game with playoff seeding implications. 

 

  1. UC Davis

Record: 2-1

Last Week: Loss at North Dakota State (27-16)

This Week: vs. Montana

 

The Big Sky’s best showing this week might have been UC Davis outgaining North Dakota State (422 yards for UC Davis to 354 for NDSU), and trailing by four at the end of the third quarter. Jake Maier’s three interceptions held the Aggies from pulling the upset, but UC Davis more than held their own in Fargo and proved their top five ranking is more than deserved. The Aggies open up Big Sky play hosting Montana in what should be a matchup of two top 15 teams. Montana has not yet underperformed against an FCS team the way UC Davis did in their season opener at San Diego, but their close loss at NDSU has erased concerns about whether the Aggies’ rocky first two weeks would carry into the conference season. 

 

  1. Montana 

Record: 3-1

Last Week: Win vs. Monmouth (47-27)

This Week: at UC Davis

 

The worst we can say about Montana heading into conference play is they haven’t been tested the way Weber State, UC Davis, and Montana State have, though again, Montana looked strong in a convincing 20 point win over Monmouth en route to the Grizzlies’ third FCS win. Dalton Sneed was electric through the air (334 yards, 4 TDs), but maybe more importantly, the immergence of running back Marcus Knight (21 carries, 148 yards, 1 TD) gives Montana one of the league’s better threats on the ground. This week, Montana faces their first FCS elite on the road at UC Davis. A win would catapult Montana into the top 10, but even staying competitive in their first real test of 2019 would go a long way in proving the alleged Return to Dominance has truly begun.   

 

The Inseparables 

 

  1. Idaho

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Win vs. EWU (35-27)

This Week: at Northern Colorado

 

Maybe the narrow loss at Wyoming was a turning point for Idaho. After opening with an embarrassing 72 point loss at Penn State and an uninspiring 10 point win over DII Central Washington, it appeared the Vandals were giving the Big Sky an encore performance from last season’s disappointing squad. Instead, Idaho dominated EWU for three quarters and gave fans a look at what could be the Big Sky’s biggest turnaround team. 

 

It didn’t hurt that five EWU defensive starters were out with injuries, but the Idaho offensive line dominated from start to finish. The Vandals rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns, though more importantly, by controlling the line of scrimmage, Idaho was able to consistently find themselves in short yardage situations on second and third down. Not only did this allow quarterback Mason Petrino’s short yardage accuracy to become a weapon for the Vandals in a way it never has been in the senior’s two years as a starter, it enabled Idaho to keep EWU’s offense off the field by manufacturing long clock burning drives featuring a ton of easy third down conversions (10/16 on 3rd down). With Northern Colorado on the schedule next week, Idaho should find itself on the right side of .500 for the first time since returning to the Big Sky.  

  1. Sacramento State

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Loss at Fresno State (34-20)

This Week: Bye

 

Sacramento State again looked fantastic in hanging all four quarters with another FBS team that will undoubtedly make a 2019 bowl game. Against both Arizona State and Fresno State, the Hornets received no production from 2018 All-Big Sky running back Elijah Dotson, who will unquestionably find more room to run during the conference season. More concerning for the rest of the Big Sky should be the play of quarterback Kevin Thomson, who has thrown nine touchdowns and completed 61.8 percent of his passes in Sacramento State’s three Division I games. 

 

  1. EWU

Record: 1-3

Last Week: Loss at Idaho (35-27)

This Week: vs. North Dakota

 

Last year’s national runner-up will begin Big Sky play with zero FCS wins thanks to an upset loss at Idaho. The defensive struggles present in the Eagles’ DII win over Lindenwood (31 points allowed) and in their second half collapse at Jacksonville State returned for all four quarters against the Vandals, where the generally tepid Idaho offense gained 463 total yards including 223 on the ground. Missing five defensive starters aided in EWU’s poor defensive outing, but that does little to explain how Idaho’s defense was able to keep the Eagles from moving the ball the entire first half and much of the third quarter. Without question, EWU owns the Big Sky’s most disappointing opening month, and for the Eagles to make a return trip to the FCS playoffs, they may have to finish no worse than 7-1 through the conference season.  

 

  1. NAU

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Loss at Illinois State (40-27) 

This Week: at Montana State

 

Northern Arizona could not move past its dark horse status in a road loss at Illinois State in a game that could have given the Lumberjacks their second FCS win. On the year, quarterback Case Cookus (12 TDs, 4 INTs) has shaken any rust from missing most of last year, but without a top tier defense or any semblance of a rushing attack, NAU will have to win a lot of shootouts if they’re going to threaten for an at-large playoff berth.  

 

The Know Nothings

 

  1. Portland State

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Win vs. Eastern Oregon (NAIA, 59-9 )

This Week: at Idaho State

 

Beyond learning that Davis Alexander would be an elite NAIA quarterback (25/34, 366 yards, 5 TDs), throttling Eastern Oregon tells us nothing about the Vikings. A month into the season, Portland State owns two sub-FCS wins and two FBS losses, meaning no one on Earth has an idea what to make of the Vikings.   

 

  1. Idaho State

Record: 1-2

Last Week: Loss at Northern Iowa (13-6)

This Week: vs. Portland State

Idaho State turned in one of the week’s surprising performances in their one-score loss on the road at No. 9 Northern Iowa. Backup quarterback Gunnar Amos (13/26, 134 yards, 3 INTs) struggled while leading Idaho State to 209 yards of total offense, but the Bengals’ defense shined in holding an FCS elite to 234 total yards and 13 points. ISU’s defense was weak in 2018, but if coach Phenicie and company have made strides on that side of the ball, the (eventual) return of quarterback Matt Stuck and some semblance of an offense would push the Bengals back to where they were in 2018—a dark horse for an at-large playoff berth. 

 

  1. Cal Poly

Record: 1-2

Last Week: Bye

This Week: at Southern Utah

 

If big play passing is now part of the Mustangs’ arsenal (quarterback Jalen Hamler has passed for three touchdowns and 403 yards on 25 total attempts), it might compensate yards Cal Poly purges on defense (496 yards per game vs. two FCS teams).  

 

The Known Quantities

 

  1. Southern Utah

Record: 1-2

Last Week: Loss at South Dakota State (43-7)

This Week: vs. Cal Poly

 

Aside from their week three win over one of the worst FCS teams (Stephen F. Austin), Southern Utah has scored almost no points until trailing by 30 or more in 2019. Those blowouts did come against two top 10 FCS teams (Northern Iowa and South Dakota State) and FBS UNLV, but at the close of nonconference play, Southern Utah joins Northern Colorado as the Big Sky’s two nights off. 

 

  1. Northern Colorado

Record: 0-4

Last Week: Loss at South Dakota (14-6)

This Week: vs. Idaho

 

In two FCS games (Sacramento State and South Dakota), Northern Colorado has scored six points and gained 390 total yards. Yes, they kept it close at South Dakota, but until the Bears have something resembling an offense, Northern Colorado will threaten no one.