The Big Sky Conference showed up for a fight against the FBS competition. Not all teams found success, but three Big Sky teams found themselves an upset win, including Montana over #20 Washington. The Mountain West, PAC 12, and American league all had representatives fall victim to the Big Sky.
San Jose State hosted Southern Utah for one of a few week zero matchups. While the Thunderbirds were crafty with a “Cedar City” Special and a Kobe Singleton pick-six touchdown, Southern Utah was blown out of the water by halftime by a score of 38-14. The action was basically done for the night as SJSU would score one more touchdown before sending SUU home with a 31 point loss.
#24 Utah (FBS) def. Weber State 40-17
Utah made sure to fend off the hotshot FCS Wildcats. A 100-yard kick return touchdown from the “Devin Hester” of the FCS in Rashid Shaheed. The early 7-3 lead would be the best Weber State would come to knocking off the top 25 Utes. The struggling Wildcats offense would get in the redzone three more times but only capitalize twice for ten points.
#25 Arizona State (FBS) def. Southern Utah 41-14
Arizona State hosted Southern Utah in front of a crowd three times the size of SJSU. While the game was a similar score the game played out in a more competitive fashion. The Thunderbirds found their scores with the help of penalties and turnovers. Arizona State’s balanced attack led to still overwhelming Southern Utah.
Tulsa fell victim to an unexpected stunner courtesy of Dan Hawkins’ Aggies. UC Davis was able to escape Oklahoma with a two-point upset win thanks in part to two interceptions and 122 yards of Tulsa penalties. Hunter Rodrigues was able to quarterback a fantastic night of 28/35, 311 yards, and 1 touchdown. Despite tough running from Deneric Price of Tulsa, the UC Davis defense forcing the two turnovers was Tulsa’s downfall.
Sam Houston State invaded Flagstaff, AZ, and systematically dominated the Lumberjacks. Despite a good effort on all sides of the ball from NAU, the Bearkats kept a constant pressure and amount of scoring. SHSU’s defense was able to keep in check the majority of NAU’s playmakers as the Bearkats tallied 2 interceptions, 91 yards, and 1 touchdown.
Eastern Washington embarrassed UNLV in the Las Vegas Raider’s new Allegiant Stadium. The field was generously painted all UNLV themes and logos, yet they still found a way to find themselves on the wrong side of a loss. EWU made a strong effort to pull ahead in the third with a 20-6 lead. UNLV would find a way in the back door and tie the game before the end of regulation. Two overtimes were needed as EWU scored and completed a bobbled two-point conversion. UNLV made a good attempt but was stopped just before the goal line.
Colorado (FBS) def. Northern Colorado 35-7
Northern Colorado traveled an hour South to meet up with in-state foe Colorado. The Buffaloes struggled early on as they were only able to rack up 14 points in the first half against a team that had won 7 games since 2017. The McCaffrey show was impressive for UNC standards, but the number of drops from the top-tier FBS transfer receivers was embarrassing. Northern Colorado is improving, but we will only wonder how much till they win a game.
Montana pulled off a top-tier, all-time great FCS over FBS upset against the Huskies. Washington made mental and physical errors costing themselves three interceptions. On top of the opportune turnovers, Montana also dominated the field position battle as their punts resulted in the majority of fair catches and/or inside the 20-yard line. Bobby Hauck is overflowing with confidence that “Montana is back”.
North Dakota controlled their Missouri Valley-Big Sky game all the way through. Idaho State’s Tyler Vander-Waal was exploited to the tune of three interceptions and limited to one touchdown. Last season, Vander-Waal was a prolific passer, although this game was far from his finest hour with limited help on other fronts. Connor Wills was the one bright spot of the Bengals team as he finished the day with 14 tackles and 1 forced fumble.
Wyoming escaped a narrow defeat from a rowdy Montana State team. The Bobcats held a narrow lead of 7-3 throughout the majority of the game. The Cowboy fans grew tiresome of Montana State’s ability to run the outer edges and gain large yards through play action. If the Bobcats were able to snag a first down on their last pass they would have had four seconds left to spike the ball and try for a second successful long field goal to force overtime.
Cal Poly has found a way to win through the air and this will completely alter their image and likeness throughout the conference. The once triple-option one-trick-ponies will now be a decent team with Beau Baldwin’s cherry-picked transfer following him from the University of California. Spencer Brasch looks like a contender quarterback who can give the Mustangs a new breath of life in their quest to rebrand.
Idaho dominated their Canadian “rivals” in embarrassing fashion as the Kibbie Dome enjoyed a feel-good game to begin the season. Other than getting to scout CJ Jordan, Mike Beaudry, and the running back crew there was not much to learn from this affair other than how much Moscow could score on British Columbia. Beaudry looks like a calm-and-steady option while CJ Jordan is electric and mobile.
Sacramento State def. Dixie State 19-7
Sacramento State has not played since they won a share of the Big Sky title in 2019 and the roster changes show. The once defending champs looked like they had to defend themselves against regulation. Newcomers, Dixie State, are definitely suffering from growing pains, but the fact they covered the pass well enough Asher O’hara had to run so often and Elijah Dotson was kept at 32 yards is majorly impressive.
Hawai’i (FBS) def. Portland State 49-35
Hawai’i welcomed Portland State into a 28-0 deficit that looked to be an absolute decimation early on. The Rainbow Warriors really stuck it to the Vikings until a third-quarter rally of 21 points made Hawai’i pay attention again. Davis Alexander did his very best to overtake Hawai’i, but 23/47 for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns was not enough to remedy the 2 interceptions or 28-point deficit to start the game.
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.