Week 2 of Conference Play yielded fewer surprises in who won and more surprises in how much that team won by. About half of the games were rather close in nature, while the other half proceeded to vast differences. Montana won by 39, UC Davis lost a heart-breaker, and EWU continues to slide into the deep end. Who knew the dominant Top 25 Big Sky teams would not include EWU or UC Davis. Crazier things have happened, but the crazy train is well on its way early in the season.
Marquee: Weber State def. Idaho 41-35
Weber State was able to escape a determined Idaho team that nearly came back. Jake Constantine was back this week, but was far from the star of the show. The Weber State running back community is why Weber was able to earn a win this week. Kris Jackson, Kevin Smith, Josh Davis, and Doug Lloyd all produced notable yards and a touchdown each. Aundre Carter did his best to mirror the Wildcats, but the Vandal running backs were not as successful. Nick Romano was able to produce an impressive 97-yard kickoff return with about a minute left in the game. It would not be enough to overcome the lack of ball control and unbalanced time of possession.
North Dakota def. UC Davis 38-36
Another week of shock for the Big Sky as one of the presumed power teams gets upset. UC Davis was supposed to be the one to challenge the MVFC opponents early on, rise in the rankings, and make a case for the Big Sky title. At this point they are following an earlier example of Eastern Washington by plumeting to the bottom or out of the Top 25. While North Dakota is a strong team, as proved earlier this season with a big win at Sam Houston, there should not have been this much of a problem for the Aggies. If Jake Maier did not throw three interceptions this could have been a banner day for him. The preseason Player of the Year watchlist player in Jake Maier seemed to disappear this week as he was a hot stove and a cold ice pack on different drives. While the Aggies made a comeback to be up one point the Fightin’ Hawks fought their way to a 46-yard field that the Aggies could not counter.
University of North Dakota 38, UC Davis 36
Montana def. Idaho State 59-20
Griz fans were understandably concerned as the ISU Bengals forced a 17-0 deficit on Montana early in the first half. Ty Flannagan seemed to have the Griz figured out as he contributed two of those touchdowns including a 71-yard dash. The Griz were far from done as they righted the ship and got the score evened up with three minutes till halftime. Montana even went into the half up 24-17 thanks to the hard-working legs of Marcus Knight for three short scores and a field goal. The Bengals would make their one and only score of the entire second half at 7:39 in the third quarter. ISU’s field goal would be answered with five touchdowns from the Griz throughout the rest of the game. What struck panic in Missoula at first turned out to be a banner day for Dalton Sneed and the Griz offense. Dalton Sneed earned worthy player of the week awards as he passed for two touchdowns and also ran for two touchdowns and 67 rushing yards. Other notable performances leading to the big win were: Marcus Knight’s three rushing touchdowns, Samouri Toure had eight catches for 188 yards and a touchdown, Samuel Akem had 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown, and Dante Olson had 18 tackles.
Montana 59, Idaho State 20
Portland State def. Southern Utah 52-31
Portland State may not be ready to compete with the top Big Sky teams, but average and below is no problem at this point for the Vikings. PSU established a 38-10 halftime lead that stayed a 21-point win of 52-31. Southern Utah has struggled horribly this year as they are nearing the point of guarenting themselves a sub .500 win type year. Chris Helbig has been the one shining spot of the Southern Utah team lately. This week Helbig completed 75.6 percent of his passes, threw three touchdowns, no sacks, and limited hiself to one interception. It may not be a popular choice for Southern Utah, but abandoning the run and building around Helbig may be the best solution for winning games.
Northern Arizona def. Northern Colorado 41-23
This was truly a tale of two halves as Case Cookus looked horribe in the first half. Northern Colorado was able to manage the Lumberjacks for 13 points in the first half as it looked like this might be a competitive game continuing on. The UNC pass offense was hot and the run was not in the first half. Conversly NAU had the opposite problem as Joe Logan was hot and Case Cookus was not. The third quarter began with fireworks as both teams scored within the first five minutes. Only the fireworks would continue as Cookus regained his confidence as NAU put up 24 points in the third quarter. Notably, both quarterbacks put up 400+ yard games, but Cookus having five touchdowns to Knipp’s two made the difference.
Northern Arizona 41, Northern Colorado 23
Montana State def. Cal Poly 34-28
What happens when two run heavy giants collide? A need for a fifth quarter decsion. Montana State seemed to have Cal Poly where they wanted them, but 21-point fourth quarter forced the game into overtime. A combined 34 passes were attempted and 16 overall completions. If any running game fans out there saw the game they would be very pleased compared to the majority of the other fans. Despite the community effort on both sides by the running game, no one back was able to go over 100 yards by themself. This truly was a team game that was decided by Travis Jonsen and his nine-yard run to a Bobcat win. The Mustangs wholeheartedly scared the Bobcats, but they maintain their perfect 2-0 conference record heading into Week 7.
Sacramento State def. Eastern Washington 48-27
Sacramento State is raising question marks and exclamation marks in each week of play. Two close losess to FBS teams, decimated D2 Southern Oregon and Big Sky foe UNC, and now a convincing win over last year’s runner-up. The Hornets pulled in front of the Eagles and never seemed to look back at any point. Both quarterbacks had good days overall as Kevin Thompson threw for one more touchdown than Eric Barriere and was sacked five less times. Sacramento State is quickly establishing themselves as a threat in the Big Sky.
Sacramento State 48, Eastern Washington 27
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 the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Political Science. In my free time, I like watching sports, playing video games, and trying new foods.