At College Sports Journal, we proudly present our this week’s Big Sky Conference Power Rankings for the week of 10/4/2016. (Last week’s ranking in parenthesis.)
1. (1) Eastern Washington (4-1, 2-0)
Last week: Beat UC Davis, 63-30 at home
This week: vs. Northern Colorado
After starting slow in the first half, the Eagles put up 35 points in the 3rd quarter. Receiver Cooper Kupp became the Division I leader in career receiving yards, is now the all-time leader in pretty much every FCS receiving record now.
2. (3) Montana (3-1, 1-1)
Last week: Beat Southern Utah, 43-20 at home
This Week: vs. Mississippi Valley State
SUU’s defense was hurting last week and the Griz offense took advantage, especially in the second half. Montana gets an easy game at home this week with the SWAC’s 0-5 Mississippi Valley State.
3. (5) North Dakota (3-2, 2-0)
Last week: Beat Cal Poly, 31-24 at home
This week: at Sacramento State
After taking down Cal Poly at home, that 0-2 start looks more like an anomaly now. UND must not get too confiendent as it was the games on paper that they should have won last year that kept the Fighting Hawks out of the postseason party.
4. (2) Cal Poly (3-2, 1-1)
Last week: Lost to North Dakota, 31-24 on the road
This Week: Bye
Cal Poly was actually lucky to only lose by a touchdown to UND. The Mustangs were without fullback Joe Protheroe (injury) and they just aren’t the same team without him. The bye this week comes at a very good time.
5. (8) Northern Colorado (3-1, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Northern Arizona, 21-18 at home
This week: at Eastern Washington
The Bears beat the preseason conference favorites last week. Could the Bears be back to the winning ways from nearly two decades ago? UNC won the 1996 and 1997 DII national titles before moving up to the DI ranks in 2003. DI success has been a hard thing to come by in Greeley. This week’s road game at EWU will tell us how good the Bears are.
6. (4) Southern Utah (2-2, 1-1)
Last week: Lost to Montana, 43-20 on the road
This week: vs. UC Davis
Not a great week in Missoula for the T-Birds, but SUU gets possibly a breather this week at home against the Aggies.
7. (9) Portland State (2-3, 1-1)
Last week: Beat Idaho State, 45-20 at home
This week: at Weber State
Quarterback Alex Kuresa threw four interceptions in a loss to SUU two weeks ago. The offense decided to take it out of his hand as he threw just five total passes last week. The Vikings instead rushed 58 times for an outrageous 531 yards.
8. (10) Weber State (2-2, 1-0)
Last week: Bye
This week: vs. Portland State
The Wildcats have looked better as the season has gone on — especially defensively. This week’s home contest against PSU will let us know how much WSU has improved.
9. (6) Northern Arizona (1-4, 0-2)
Last week: Lost to Northern Colorado, 21-18 on the road
This week: at Montana State
NAU was voted the preseason league favorite. Losing four of five games (with the one win being over a DII team) means this team likely has to win out to make the playoffs now. Having Quarterback Case Cookus now out will make it tough to do.
10. (12) UC Davis (1-4, 0-2)
Last week: Lost to Eastern Washington, 63-30 on the road
This week: at Southern Utah
Not a good final score, but the Aggies had the lead in the third quarter over the top team in the conference. This has to be promising despite losing for another once proud DII team that has seen little DI success since moving up in 2003.
11. (11) Idaho State (2-3, 1-1)
Last week: Lost to Portland State, 45-20 on the road
This week: Bye
On the bright side, the Bengals didn’t allow a single passing yard to PSU. Usually that kind of stat would be great in the pass happy Big Sky. But ISU instead gave up 531 yards rushing to the Vikings in Portland.
12. (13) Sacramento State (1-4, 1-1)
Last week: Beat Montana State, 41-38 at home
This week: vs. North Dakota
The Hornets were the last BSC team to get a win and they beat MSU in come-from-behind fashion. Sac State trailed by 17 with around 5:00 left in the third quarter before coming back to score with 15 seconds left in the game for the game winning touchdown.
13. (7) Montana State (2-3, 0-2)
Last week: Lost to Sacramento State, 41-38 on the road
This week: vs. Northern Arizona
The Bobcats lost to the previously winless Hornets last week. MSU deserves to be ranked below Sacramento State now.
CSJ Big Sky Game of the Week
Northern Colorado (3-1, 1-0) @ Eastern Washington (4-1, 2-0), 4:05 EDT, TV: SWX (Spokane)
Northern Colorado is just 1-10 all-time against Eastern Washington—the one win coming in 1981.
The Bears come into the Eagles homecoming game this week.
Last season the Eagles won a heartbreaker in Greeley, 43-41. Eastern capitalized on a 40 yard field goal as time expired to defeat UNC. The last two matchups between the teams have been decided by eight points or less.
Northern Colorado forced and recovered three fumbles in the 21-18 win over Northern Arizona last week. The Bears have now forced seven fumbles on the season and recovered six of them. The six recovered fumbles rank them 12th overall in the FCS.
Turnovers will likely be needed for the Bears to stay in this game.
EWU is the FCS leader in passing offense (432.8 yards per game), third in scoring offense (47.2), sixth in third down conversions (51.4 percent), fifth in completion percentage (.686) and ninth in passing efficiency (168.65).
I think the Bears will again keep this one tight like the past three games but ultimately the Eagles are just too strong to lose this one in Cheney.
I like the Eagles by 10.
Eastern Washington 48 Northern Colorado 38