Week 4 Big Sky FCS Football Game Breakdowns

Week 4 Big Sky Conference Game Breakdowns

This week will begin to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Northern Arizona has played well and has even knocked off an FBS opponent, they will have to travel to Missoula and try to beat perennial Big Sky power Montana. Another interesting matchup this week will be North Dakota at Sacramento State. Sacramento State has played well so far this season, but North Dakota has been putting up crazy numbers on offense. The winners of these two games could continue on to push for a Big Sky title, while the losers might fall into oblivion somewhere in the middle of a massive Big Sky conference.


Northern Arizona at #16 Montana, Saturday, 3:30

Last weekend these two teams faced extremely different competition. Montana faced a struggling Liberty team from the Big South who is still looking for their first win. Northern Arizona got a break from competitive competition as they faced sub-division I opponent Fort Lewis. This game in Missoula will come down to defense, and I think that Montana has the Lumberjacks number when it comes to that aspect of the game. Northern Arizona will need to create some big plays on offense in order to pull off this upset. Specifically, the Lumberjack offensive line will need to lead running back Zach Bauman to consistent positive yards. Chase Cartwright will need to add to that run game and provide an effective passing performance to keep the Griz honest. The trick will be to keep up with the Montana offense; Dan Moore has shown himself to be a dynamic back that will impact each game he plays in. I think the Grizzly defensive advantage, plus the impact of a tough environment at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, will set the tone for the Grizzlies to, in the end, win comfortably this weekend.

Projected Score: Montana 38, Northern Arizona 17


Idaho State at Nebraska, Saturday, 3:30

Idaho State had a week off to prepare for this tough matchup against Big Ten foe Nebraska. I think Idaho State has a decent passing game, but it is too inconsistent to pull of an upset here. Taylor Martinez will lead the Huskers up and down the field and put up big numbers against the Bengals. If the Bengals are going to push for the upset, they will need to make huge plays on defense and control the tempo of the game. I hate to be this negative, but I just don’t see that happening.

Projected Score: Nebraska 52, Idaho State 10


Northern Colorado at #3 Montana State, Saturday, 4:05

I predicted it last week—Montana State got a scare from Stephen F. Austin. The Bobcats are on thin ice with me, they have a lot of talent, but they are under performing. This week, Montana State will kick off its conference schedule with a weak Big Sky opponent, Northern Colorado. The Bears have struggled almost every year since they transitioned from Division II. They haven’t effectively recruited the talent they need to win ball games and they haven’t found that energy to pull off big upsets. Montana State should win this game again, but if they don’t get things straightened out, they will lose three, maybe four games this year against tougher opponents.

Projected Score: Montana State 31, Northern Colorado 10


#5 Eastern Washington at Weber State, Saturday, 8:00

Eastern Washington played well against Washington State and will look to get back to work on its offensive efficiency against Weber State. Look for Eastern Washington to control the ball and put up some good numbers in this game. Additionally, I think Eastern Washington has one of the best defenses in the Big Sky and that could certainly pan out to a Big Sky Conference title. Weber State lost to Southland power, McNeese State, last weekend. I don’t see Weber State having enough fire power to pull out the win against a superior Eastern Washington squad.

Projected Score: Eastern Washington 38, Weber State 17


Southern Utah at Portland State, Saturday, 8:05

Southern Utah’s 1-2 record is really an indicator on how tough their non-conference schedule has been. The Thunderbirds are a good team and will likely play well against Big Sky competition. Look for Southern Utah to get back on track against Portland State. However, Portland State is also in the same position as Southern Utah. In the end, I think Southern Utah’s defense is much more stout than Portland State’s. Thunderbirds will pull away in the second half and seal the deal for their first Big Sky Conference win.

Projected Score: Southern Utah 38, Portland State 24


UC Davis at Cal Poly, Saturday, 9:05

I watched the UC Davis game last weekend and was impressed with their defense, but not so much impressed with their offense. I think that Cal Poly is a much stronger team than South Dakota State and UC Davis will need to play a near perfect game to pull off the upset. I Expect Cal Poly will run all over the Aggies and control the line of scrimmage. The Mustangs will eventually wear down the Aggie defense and pull away in the second half. Tough loss here for UC Davis because I think they will be a pretty good middle-of-the-pack Big Sky team, however, I don’t think they have what it takes to knock off Cal Poly at home.

Projected Score: Cal Poly 38, UC Davis 15


North Dakota at Sacramento State, Saturday, 9:05

This should be a very interesting game. Sacramento State is 2-1 and has beaten Colorado and Northern Colorado. I think that the Hornets have a pretty good offense, but I don’t think it is near as good as North Dakota’s. Defense will be an issue—for both teams—this week. This game will likely be a shootout and whoever makes the bigger plays will win this game. North Dakota’s quarterback, Marcus Hendrickson, has played extremely well in place of injured North Carolina transfer Braden Hanson. In Hanson’s absence, Hendrickson has thrown for 823 yards, 12 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. Look for another solid performance from North Dakota; they should top the Hornets by plenty. 

Projected Score: North Dakota 52, Sacramento State 38


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