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.

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.

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

We live in a world where Sacramento State, a team with exactly zero conference wins in 2018, now owns consecutive two score (or more) wins over Eastern Washington, Montana State, and Montana. It took our voters from the Big Sky Podcast Network a little less time than it’s taken the national polls to recognize what’s going on in Sacramento, but even we are still coming to terms with Sacramento State sitting on top of our football world.

 

Untouched (Haven’t Played Sacramento State)

 

 1. Sacramento State
Conference: 3-0
Overall: 5-2
Last Week: Win vs. Montana (49-22)
This Week: at Cal Poly
Key Stat: In four games against Big Sky teams (three conference, one nonconference), Kevin Thomson has passed for an average of 307.6 yards per game while accounting for 24 touchdowns (18 passing, 6 rushing) and four turnovers (three interceptions, one lost fumble).
Another Key Stat: Through those same games, running back Elijah Dotson is gaining a combined (rushing and receiving) 148.25 yards per game.

2. Weber State
Conference: 3-0
Overall: 5-2
Last Week: Win vs. Northern Arizona (51-28)
This Week: at UC Davis
Key Stat: In four games against Big Sky teams (three conference, one nonconference), Weber State’s reputationally anemic offense has scored an average of 40.5 points per game. This increased production has come almost exclusively through the Wildcats’ run game. In those four games Weber State rushers have run for a combined 18 touchdowns (including Josh Davis’ 328 yards and four touchdowns vs. NAU), while quarterbacks Jake Constantine and Kaden Jenks have thrown for a combined four touchdowns.

 

If Not For Sacramento State, We’d Be Golden

 

3. Montana
Conference: 2-1
Overall:
5-2
Last Week: Loss at Sacramento State (49-22)
This Week: vs. Eastern Washington
Key Stat: Quarterback Dalton Sneed, who left in the third quarter due to a leg injury, contributed fewer combined yards against Sacramento State (158 total, 140 passing and 18 rushing) than he did against the University of Oregon (176 total, 184 passing and -8 rushing). In his five other FCS games, Sneed has passed for an average 339.6 yards and rushed for an average of 41.4 yards.
Another Key Stat: In five FCS wins, Montana has outgained opponents by an average of 154.2 yards per game. Against Sacramento State, the Grizzlies were outgained by 170 yards.

4. Montana State
Conference: 2-1
Record: 5-2
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at North Dakota
Key Stat: In Montana State’s first four FCS wins, the Bobcats’ outscored opponents in the second half by a combined margin of 107-24. In an overtime win over Cal Poly and loss to Sacramento State, Montana State was outscored in the second half 34-13.
Another Key Stat: Just one Big Sky team averages fewer than 375 yards of total offense in conference play (Cal Poly: 374.8). Through six FCS games, Montana State has allowed just two teams to reach 375 yards in total offense or more (NAU: 437, Sacramento State: 378).

 

Sacramento State Has, Or Will, Ruin Our Season

 

5. UC Davis
Conference:
2-2
Overall: 4-4
Last Week: Win at Southern Utah (33-25)
This Week: vs. Weber State
Key Stat: In conference losses to Montana and North Dakota, UC Davis surrendered an average of 501 yards per game and collected six turnovers while forcing just two (margin: -4). In two conference wins, the Aggies still surrendered a ton of yards (458 yards per game), but turned the ball over a combined zero times while forcing four turnovers (margin: +4).

 

6. Eastern Washington
Conference:
2-1
Overall: 3-4
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Montana
Key Stat: In FCS games against teams below .500 (Idaho and Northern Colorado), quarterback Eric Barriere has completed 63 percent of his passes for an average of 405 yards passing per game. Against teams above .500 (Jacksonville State, North Dakota, and Sacramento State), Barriere has completed 52 percent of his passes for an average of 232 passing yards per game.

 

Didn’t Need Sacramento State To Ruin Our Season

7. Portland State
Conference: 3-1
Overall: 5-3
Last Week: Win at Northern Colorado (38-30)
This Week: vs. Northern Arizona
Key Stat: In Portland State’s three-game conference winning streak, the Vikings’ opponents (Southern Utah, Idaho, and Northern Colorado) have a combined Big Sky record of 2-10.

8. Idaho
Conference: 1-3
Overall: 3-5
Last Week: Win vs. Idaho State (45-21)
This Week: Bye
Key Stat: Making his first start since Idaho joined the Big Sky conference, junior backup quarterback Colton Richardson passed for more yards (289 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions) in two-and-a-half quarters than starting quarterback Mason Petrino has passed for in all but one of his 18 Big Sky starts. The outlier for Petrino came in a 46-27 loss to Montana in 2018, where Idaho trailed 43-13 at the end of the third quarter.
Another Key Stat: Scoring 45 points against Idaho State was the first time the Vandals scored more than 35 against a Division I opponent since their 2016 Famous Potato Bowl win. 21 of Idaho’s points came on defensive touchdowns.

9. Idaho State
Conference: 2-2
Overall: 3-4
Last Week: Loss at Idaho (45-21)
Next Week: at Southern Utah
Key Stat: Matt Struck contributed more touchdowns to Idaho (three: two interceptions and one fumble, all returned for touchdowns) than he did to Idaho State (two passing touchdowns).
Another Key Stat: In the Bengals’ two conference wins, Struck passed for a combined 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. In Idaho State’s two conference losses, Struck has passed a combined two touchdowns and two interceptions.

10. Northern Arizona
Conference: 1-2
Record: 3-4
Last Week: Loss at Weber State (51-28)
This Week: vs. Portland State
Key Stat: In five FCS games, NAU has collected three blowout losses to top 15 teams (Illinois State, Montana State, and Weber State), and two wins (Missouri State and Northern Colorado) against opponents with a combined record of 2-12.

11. Cal Poly
Conference: 1-3
Overall: 2-5
Last Week: Loss vs. North Dakota (30-26)
This Week: vs. Sacramento State
Key Stat: Cal Poly has not allowed an opponent to possess the ball longer than 26:20 in conference play, but the Mustangs have still managed to surrender an average of 425.75 yards per game.

 

We Are What Sacramento State Was

12. Northern Colorado
Conference:
1-3
Overall: 1-7
Last Week: Loss vs. Portland State (38-30)
This Week: Bye
Key Stat: After passing for an average of 137.5 yards per game in nonconference play, senior quarterback Jakob Knipp has passed for an average of 303 yards per game through four Big Sky games.
Another Key Stat: Through those same conference games, senior running back Milo Hall has rushed for a combined 289 yards on 95 carries (3.04 yards per rush).

13. Southern Utah
Conference: 0-4
Overall:
1-7
Last Week: Loss vs. UC Davis (33-25)
This Week: vs. Idaho State
Key Stat: After forcing three turnovers and losing by only three to Cal Poly, through their next three conference games Southern Utah has a turnover margin of -8.