Big Sky Week 7 featured a marquee matchup between Montana State and Sacramento State. Even with the game hosted in Bozeman the result was not what many Big Sky fans were expecting. Sacramento State propped themselves into second place in the conference after handling the Bobcats in their own venue. All of the other Big Sky teams who were the home team enjoyed a happy homecoming week or just another win as Montana State was the sole home team to lose this week. As each week becomes even more important for the end of season results the Big Sky is seperating into regressing teams and progressing teams with Idaho State, EWU, and NAU as the question marks. The question is whether they will accelerate into a late push for a post season hopes while dashing others or if thier brakes will lock up to prevent them from having that chance.
Marquee: Sacramento State def. Montana State 34-21
Temperatures are starting to fall, but so are some of the top teams as the fight to be conference champion intensifies. Kevin Thomson came to town and single handedly beat Montana State with his five total touchdowns. In the first half, Thomson ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to take a 21-14 lead by halftime. It would only take the third quarter for the Hornets to sink the Bobcats as they would get two more touchdowns via Thomson’s arm. While the Hornet offense was impressive it was the defense that really solidified the win as an explosive Montana State was forced away from the run game that they pride themselves on. Montana State did find success through the air as Kevin Kassis and Travis Jonsen both had 100+ yard receiving days, but it would not be enough to overcome the Hornets entire production.
Idaho State def. North Dakota 55-20
Idaho State is one of those teams that seems to be a little bit all over the place, but with quarterback Matt Struck they seem to be on the right path. Just a week ago the Fightin’ Hawks broke the hearts of UC Davis fans with a late field goal. This week Nate Ketteringham was isolated as the run game was cut off completely. An old football proverb says if you have to throw more than fifty times in a game and have no run game it was a bad day. That does not hold true in every case, but Ketteringham faced that reality as he threw for two touchdowns and also two interceptions. One of those interceptions was taken to the house by Oshea Trujillo as he finished off the Hawks from a very bad day in Pocatello, ID. Matt Struck had a banner day as the Bengals quarterback as he threw for 396 yards and five touchdowns. Additionally, Ty Flannagan ran 20 times for 163 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals are back to last year’s prominence of dominating teams offensively, but will it continue?
Eastern Washington def. Northern Colorado 54-21
Northern Colorado was completely dismantled by Eastern Washington. The final score infers that at some point there was a competition, but there never was while the starters were in. Eastern was up 47-0 in the early third quarter. Northern Colorado did eventually get three touchdowns off the back of workhorse Milo Hall. While the Bears did have several playmakers injured during the game it is safe to say this game was out of reach early on and if Eric Barriere stayed in then the margin of victory would have stayed the same or increased. Eric Barriere threw for 60.8 percent completion, 445 yards, and five touchdowns. Talolo Limu-Jones also had a career day as he caught four passes for three touchdowns and 96 yards.
Portland State def. Idaho 24-0
The Vikings shut out the Vandals in convincing fashion. While the first half ended in a zero all score Portland State found their niche and handed it to the Vandals. Both of the Idaho quarterbacks were able to produce two interceptions and three sacks apiece that accounted for zero points. The passing, rushing, and second half defense were nonexistent from any helpful and productive activity at all. The only Vandal to really have a decent day was Christian Ellis who totaled 14 tackles, three TFL, and a sack on the day. On the Vikings side Davis Alexander was the star player with 167 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 91 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown. Alexander accounted for 21 of 24 points from the big second half for the Vikings.
UC Davis def. Cal Poly 48-24
UC Davis apparently knows who they are when they play easier teams as they lapped Cal Poly 48-24. At the beginning of the second quarter UC Davis held a 34-0 lead as Jake Maier and Ulonzo Gilliam were back to their award-worthy selves. Maier threw for 378 yards and four touchdowns while Gilliam ran for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Mustang’s big performers were Lepi Lataimua ran for 97 yards on eight attempts and JJ Koski caught eight passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Nick Eaton was the defensive menace of the day as he tallied seven tackles, four TFL, one sack, one forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a 78-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Overall, the Aggies completely overpowered the Mustangs in this rivalry for the Golden Horseshoe.
Weber State def. Southern Utah 29-14
A defensive battle was imminent from these two teams, but the time it took Weber’s offense to put the game away was discouraging. Southern Utah is in a slump year where they try their hearts out, but other than their overtime win not much has gone well for them. The Thunderbirds redeeming qualities are their quarterback and defense (at least in first halves). While the defense stood strong leading up to the fourth quarter Chris Helbig’s day at quarterback had more mistakes than celebrations. Helbig’s two touchdowns were overshadowed by his four interceptions. Weber State kept their offense moving with their running back community and offensive line that paved the way for three rushing touchdowns.
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.