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: Power Rankings Week 6

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 15 voters this week.

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

1. [1] Weber State Wildcats – 104 (13)

Hail Mary for the Win!

While exciting, it doesn’t do a lot to instill confidence. The Weber State Wildcats lose two first place votes this week, the first time they haven’t been unamimous Top Cat since week one. They have collected 80 of the 83 votes this season.

At end of the day its hard to win with a backup QB and that’s what Weber did. QB2 Randall Johnson played serviceable. Josh Davis however, will need a ice bath from carrying the team.

2.[3] Eastern Washington Eagles – 98 (2)

Yes you are reading this right. Eastern jumps UC Davis AND got two first place votes. Sure, they are only team to not have a close game this weekend. But, that was against Cal Poly, the same Poly team UC Davis beat last week 73-24.

3.[2] UC Davis Aggies – 96

Yup! UC Davis slipped back behind EWU even though they won.

Against common opponents UC Davis beat Cal Poly 73-24, while Eastern won 62-10 against Poly.

Against Idaho State, UC Davis escaped 31-27. Eastern did basically the same, escaping in the final seconds 46-42.

UC Davis sole loss is 18-12 v No. 2 Weber State on the road.

EWU’s loss is 27-20 v No. 24 Idaho on the road.

Good news, none of this matters as these two play each other this week to settle the score.

4.[4] Idaho Vandals – 74

Backup true freshman quarterback CJ Jordan looked like the future of the Big Sky Conference before going down in the 3rd quarter. 3rd string QB Nikhil Nayar came in and finished the job as Idaho escapes the pesky Thunderbirds.

This win does nothing to move your team to the top 3 in the poll. If anything, it makes you worried about this week.

But, like was covered with Weber, anytime you win with a backup, it is a success.

5.[5] Idaho State Bengals- 59

I mean, they lost back-to-back games against FCS STATS Top 20 teams in the closing seconds. It is odd to lose and stay put, or move up in a power poll. But, it is spring, and it is wonky, and that is what the Bengals are doing.

They get another shot as they will face No. 24 Idaho in the ICCU Battle of the Domes this weekend.

6.[7] Southern Utah Thunderbirds – 41

13 seconds from being 4-0!

7.[6] Northern Arizona Lumberjacks – 39

I mean wow!

On the road, against No. 2 team in the country, have the lead with 0:01 seconds lft on the clock, against a backup QB…

Only in the land of Utah do you lose this one.

8.[8] Cal Poly Mustangs – 15

When you lose by basketball scores you will be our first consensus last place team of the season.

Breaking news today, they quit, so perfect week to be unamimously last. Doubt they move the rest of the season.

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!

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.