Its hard to believe but we have just two weeks left in the regular season. Playoff positions loom for several Big Sky schools.
In my opinion, Eastern Washington and North Dakota are already in the field. Cal Poly likely needs one more win in its final two (@ Weber State & vs. Northern Colorado) to be assured of a spot. Montana likely needs to win out to be sure of a spot (one loss may still get them in, however), Southern Utah, Weber State, Northern Arizona, and Northern Colorado need to win out and may need some help as all have four losses already. Southern Utah would need to beat BYU this week, Weber State will battle Cal Poly in Ogden. Northern Colorado hosts Montana in Greeley. Northern Arizona travels to Grand Forks to take on North Dakota. So with these match-ups, these four loss teams may all fall off the playoff radar this week with losses to teams ranked higher.
1. (1) Eastern Washington (8-1, 6-0)
Last week: Beat Cal Poly, 42-21
This Week: vs. Idaho State
The Eagles have more to play for than just a Big Sky title. EWU hopes to land a Top 4 or even Top 2 seed in the playoffs. With Idaho State this week and Portland State next week, the Eagles are highly likely to land that spot.
2. (2) North Dakota (8-2, 7-0)
Last week: Beat Northern Colorado, 23-13
This Week: vs. Northern Arizona
UND plays its last game of the regular season this week against a very hot NAU team in Grand Forks. With a Fighting Hawks win, I could see UND getting a playoff seed as the team would be entering the playoffs with a nine game winning streak (started the season with two losses).
3. (3) Cal Poly (6-3, 4-2)
Last week: Lost to Eastern Washington, 42-21
This Week: @ Weber State
Cal Poly lost to EWU but there is no shame in this loss–EWU is really that good. The Mustangs travel to Weber State this week in a game that both teams need to stay in playoff contention. Cal Poly likely could lose this game but then next week’s game against Northern Colorado in San Luis Obispo becomes a must win.
4. (6) Montana (6-3, 3-3)
Last week: Beat Idaho State, 62-44
This Week: @ Northern Colorado
Montana needs to win out to feel secure in the playoff race. This week’s trip to Northern Colorado is likely the tougher of the two on paper. But next week’s Brawl of the Wild game at home with Montana State looms.
5. (4) Northern Arizona (5-4, 4-2)
Last week: Beat Weber State, 33-20
This Week: @ North Dakota
NAU probably wishes it didn’t have a DII opponent right now. NAU is coming into this UND game very hot and might be a playoff contender if it only had one more win in its resume.
6. (5) Weber State (5-4, 4-2)
Last week: Lost to Northern Arizona, 33-20
This Week: vs. Cal Poly
WSU gets a chance against a top BSC team again this week in Cal Poly. It seems the Wildcats can win the games against teams in the lower half of the standings but has not shown the capability of winning against the top half. They get another chance this week in what is really a playoff game for WSU.
7. (8) Southern Utah (5-4, 4-3)
Last week: Beat Montana State, 38-21
This Week: @ BYU
SUU gets its second FBS opponent this week against in-state rival BYU. The Thunderbirds were in the game with BYU rival Utah to begin the season and lost just 24-0. SUU will need to pull off this upset this week and then win against rival NAU to have a chance at the playoffs.
8. (7) Northern Colorado (5-4, 3-3)
Last week: Lost to North Dakota, 23-13
This Week: vs. Montana
UNC is an improving team especially compared to last year. The Bears still have an outside chance at the playoff but much like NAU, UNC has a non-DI team on its schedule that might prove to leave it out of the postseason even if they win the final two games against Montana this week and Cal Poly on the road next week.
9. (9) Portland State (3-6, 2-4)
Last week: Beat UC Davis, 51-29
This Week: @ Sacramento State
PSU got a rare win over UC Davis last week. PSU has another winnable game at Sacramento State this week. But the magic of last year just couldn’t transfer to this year for the Vikings.
10. (10) UC Davis (2-7, 1-5)
Last week: Lost to Portland State, 51-29
This Week: @ Montana State
UC Davis might get a chance for its second BSC win this week against a hapless Montana State team.
11. (11) Idaho State (2-7, 1-5)
Last week: Lost to Montana, 62-44
This Week: @ Eastern Washington
ISU has been blown out two weeks in a row to SUU and Montana. Now the Bengals travel to Cheney for what on paper looks like an even bigger mismatch. We will see what happens.
12. (12) Sacramento State (1-8, 1-5)
Last week: Bye
This Week: vs. Portland State
We will wonder if the bye last week will help the Hornets notch its second BSC victory or if PSU is too strong.
13. (13) Montana State (2-7, 0-6)
Last week: Lost to Southern Utah, 38-21
This Week: vs. UC Davis
The Bobcats get the Aggies at home. This likely is the best change for MSU to get a BSC win this year with Montana looming to end the season.