Montana State took care of business and earned themselves a seed with a shocking victory over Montana. A 48-14 dissection of Montana is the last thing the majority of fans expected the Brawl of the Wild to be this year. With that historic win, the Bobcats helped the Big Sky earn a record of four seeds for the playoffs. The rest of the conference had business as usual as the favorites won out with varying levels of ease. Idaho took their sweet time but finished off the Lumberjacks in a heated overtime victory.
Marquee: Montana State def. Montana 48-14
The Montana Grizzlies were on track for a 10-2 season and to break the Bobcat streak in the Brawl of the Wild. Unfortunate for the Griz, Montana State had other plans as they ran over Montana and shut them down on offense. The Bobcats can tout that they control the state for a total of four years in a row now. Unlike the controversy of last year, Montana State left no doubt in the state of who was better that Saturday. Several stats really jump off the page at describing just how dominant the Bobcats were.
Time of possession: UM 22:52, MSU 37:08. Total yards: UM 241 MSU 488. Sacks: UM 1, MSU 6.
Montana State proved they studied much better and were more equipped to execute their gameplan in every way. The top performers from Montana State were running backs Isaiah Ifanse with 171 yards and two touchdowns, and Logan Jones with 121 yards and one touchdown. Both teams will move onto the playoffs as seeded teams with Montana State in the five seed and Montana on the other side of the bracket in the six seed.
North Dakota def. Southern Utah 36-18
Southern Utah’s season has been a struggle, to say the least. While the Thunderbirds kept the game within two points at halftime, the Fightin’ Hawks found a way to hold SUU to three points for the rest of the game. UND would double their points from halftime as Luke Skokna would rush for two touchdowns and Brady Leach knocked through two field goals. SUU had production, but the problem that held them back was third down. The Thunderbirds could gain yards and first downs, but if it got to third down SUU struggled to convert. Thomas Duckett was the SUU glimmer of hope as he ran for one and caught another touchdown. Southern Utah’s season is over with a record of 3-9 overall. North Dakota received an at large bid for the playoffs with a 7-4 record and will face Nicholls State in the first round.
Cal Poly def. Northern Colorado 28-21
This is another one of the games this season that Northern Colorado had every opportunity to win possible but simply took themselves out of contention for the game. Jacob Knipp may have played his last football game ever as his sixth year came to a close with two touchdowns and three interceptions. When there was an opportunity for things to go wrong it seemed like the Bears ran into that chance face first. The Bears allowed Kyle Reid and Duy Trans-Sampson to rush for a combined 278 yards and three touchdowns. A tough loss and a tough season overall were big enough compounding factors for Athletic Director Dunn to let coach Earnest Collins Jr. know that his time as head coach was over. A double whammy of tough news in the same hours is rough for the Bear fans, but in search of a new coach could breathe life back into the program. Cal Poly ends the season 3-8 and UNC ends the season 2-10.
Weber State def. Idaho State 38-10
Weber State had the benefit of a “tune-up” game before awaiting their playoff fate. Every game in the Big Sky has the recipe for a potential upset, but Weber State was prepared and equipped for the Bengals. Jake Constantine had a good day that should boost his confidence going into a bye week as he threw 289 yards and four touchdowns. Josh Davis also produced a decent day as he had 88 yards on 12 rushes and a touchdown. Idaho State looked weak and inept compared to the Wildcats. Weber State’s offense may not make the headlines of any publication, but the defense may just be enough to drive them into a deep playoff run. Idaho State ends the season 3-9. Weber State will be the#3 seed at 9-3 with a bye week.
Idaho def. Northern Arizona 60-53 in OT
Four quarters could not contain this game as it needed five to figure it all out. Idaho had one heck of an exciting road win to close out their season. A back-and-forth match down in Flagstaff was an offensive explosion as Case Cookus and Mason Petrino had stellar days as they lit up the scoreboard. This was one of Idaho’s most complete games all season long as the team succeeded in multiple fronts. Mason Petrino threw 491 yards and six touchdowns on an 83 percent completion rate. The receiver who caught the majority of Petrino’s labor was Jeff Cotton who caught 17 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, on the ground, Nick Romano pulled his fair share by rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. The Vandals had the scoreboard saying their name all game long and Christian Ellis did all he could to prevent NAU from doing so too. Ellis had 13 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and a sack during the game. Idaho ended their season on a high note with a win and a 5-7 record. A disappointing end to Case Cookus career shall leave a bitter taste for a while as the Lumberjacks went 4-8 this year.
Eastern Washington def. Portland State 53-46
The Eagles returned to their usual form of going up big and then almost letting the opponent come back late in the game. Eric Barriere was in full form as he led a decent passing attack and volatile rushing attack to keep the Vikings at bay. Antoine Custer Jr. tallied 16 rushes for 218 yards and two touchdowns against Portland State. Even though Portland State’s last four drives all resulted in touchdowns it still was not enough to bring down the EWU Eagles. This season may have been less exciting than last year, but 7-5 is not a bad record to end on. Portland State found success early that soon tapered off and resulted in a 5-7 record.
Sacramento State def. UC Davis 27-17
UC Davis came out of the gate aggressive in hopes of playing spoiler to Sacramento State. At one point the Aggies led the Hornets 17-3 midway through the second quarter. Kevin Thomson would not let the Aggies sour the end to their season as he led the offense all the way back to a ten-point win. The defense completely shut out Jake Maier and the Aggies in the second half. Jake Maier started the season with postseason award aspirations, but his opponent Kevin Thomson should be the one on the lookout for possible awards coming his way. Especially after a performance like last weekend Kevin Thomson will take his team far if he keeps up this kind of production. Thomson had 300 yards through the air and a touchdown, while he ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. UC Davis ends the year at 5-7. Sacramento State will be moving on at 9-3 as the #4 seed for the playoffs starting with a bye week.
My name is Ben Schleiger and I’m your representative for the Big Sky Conference. I have done work for multiple newspapers and sports blogs including: The Johnstown Breeze, The University of Northern Colorado Mirror, and Mile High Maniac. I am a proud alumnus of University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Psychology. In my free time I like watching sports, playing video games, and trying new foods.