The first week of in-conference games started to shape the race to the Big Sky Conference title and eventual playoff hopes. Dog fights, statement wins, and lucky stars all aligned on this week as conference opponents took a step ahead of others while Sacramento State absolutely embarrassed FBS Colorado State. All of the conference leaders moved forward one more win and the bottom of the Big Sky will start to form as teams falter. While one week does not determine the entire season the top, middle, and bottom become clearer with each game we witness.
|Saturday 9/24/2022||Montana State 38||Eastern Washington 35||Cheney, Wash. (Conf.)||Box Score Recap|
|Saturday 9/24/2022||Idaho State 14||Northern Colorado 35||Greeley, Colo. (Conf.)||Box Score Recap|
|Saturday 9/24/2022||Idaho 27||Northern Arizona 10||Flagstaff, Ariz. (Conf.)||Box Score Recap|
|Saturday 9/24/2022||Sacramento State 41||Colorado State University 10||Fort Collins, Colo.||Box Score Recap|
|Saturday 9/24/2022||Portland State 16||Montana 53||Missoula, Mont. (Conf.)||Box Score Recap|
|Saturday 9/24/2022||Weber State 17||UC Davis 12||Davis, Calif. (Conf.)||Box Score Recap|
Montana State and Eastern Washington had a grueling street-fight type of game. The two teams stuck heavily to the ground game and had some tough hits including Tommy Mellott leaving the game. Sean Chambers took over as the Bobcat gadget quarterback to put up 69 yards passing with a touchdown and 160 yards rushing with two touchdowns. Chambers and running back Elijah Elliots gashed the Eagles for a combined 316 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Micah Smith tried to emulate the Bobcats, but a late fumble set up Montana State in scoring position to take the go ahead lead. Gunner Talkington would make an effort for the comeback, but was intercepted to seal the game’s fate. Although these teams played a great game injuries are mounting early, especially for the Bobcats backfield.
Northern Colorado’s miscues kept the halftime score all tied up at 14. The Bears could have had a double digit lead if not for the fumble at the goal line by Elijah Dotson and missed 20 yard field goal attempt by Hunter Green. Idaho State’s Hunter Hays was able to take advantage of blown coverages by the Bears and gash them for big yardage in the first half. In a tale of two halves UNC capitalized big time in the second half with Elijah Dotson returning a punt 82 yards for a special teams touchdown and Elijah Anderson-Taylor returning a fumble for 47 yards for a defensive touchdown. The Bears were heating up as the game went on and the Bengals were struggling. Quarterback Hunter Hays left the field with assistance after a big hit on the Anderson-Taylor return that left Hays crumpled on the field.
The Vandals lapped the Lumberjacks in offensive yards and time of possession. A one-score halftime score gave the impression the Lumberjacks were not out of the game, but Idaho found a way to keep them scoreless the rest of the game. There are hardly any valid complaints about Idaho’s offense as Gevani McCoy was 18/20 for 184 yards and a touchdown, two rushers with 80+ yards, and a near even split of receptions among the receivers. Northern Arizona did a good job of limiting further damage on defense as the Lumberjacks only gave up 10 points in the second half and three defenders end the game with double digit tackles.
Sacramento State made news across the nation as they led an absolutely, shockingly large win over FBS Colorado State. While CSU’s starting quarterback left the game early on the Rams had little answer offensively or defensively for the Hornets. The two quarterback threat combined with a competent rushing attack and bulldozing defense allowed Sacramento State to tally their most points scored against an FBS school and largest margin of victory over an FBS school for the entire FCS since 2017. Comparably, the Hornets beat CSU by the same amount as Washington State (FBS) did, more than Middle Tennessee (FBS) and only 13 points less than #4 Michigan (FBS). One of the Hornets keys to success was dominating CSU’s already depleted offensive line and registering key stats in their backfield.
Montana molly-whopped Portland State as a homecoming gift to the Griz fans. There were a few individual defensive shining moments for the Vikings, including Broderick Harrell tackling the punter in the end-zone for a safety, but for the most part the Vikings were just busy receiving a shellacking. Robby Hauck returned a failed field goal 99 yards for a touchdown and Junior Bergen returned a punt 72 yards for a score. Montana’s homecoming was special and included Robby Hauck eclipsing Dante Olson’s tackle record and receiving a game ball.
UC Davis fought like hell to tack a loss on Weber State’s schedule, but three missed field goals and a failed go-ahead drive kept the Wildcats in the winning column. The Aggies forced four fumbles and an interception, but that was not enough to secure the win. Weber State’s Josh Davis and UC Davis’s Ulonzo Gilliam rivaled each other through 100-yard rushing nights averaging over five yards per carry. Ultimately, the offenses had similar production to them despite Miles Hastings throwing nearly double the amount of passes that Bronson Barron did. A sloppy game all around could have been awarded to either side, but the Wildcats found a way to hold on long enough until the double zeros.
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.