Big Sky Week 1 FCS Football Game Breakdowns

 Week 1 Big Sky Game Breakdowns


Get ready for the 51st season of Big Sky Conference football, even if it is a non-league schedule. Only five teams are in action on Thursday, which is kickoff day for some teams around the country. The rest of the teams play on Friday and Saturday, and by the end of the first weekend we’ll have a good idea about which teams are strong and which ones might need a little work. Here is a look at all the games planned for the long weekend:


Southern Utah at South Alabama, Thursday, 7:35

This is the first meeting between these schools, and it is an even-steven prognosis for Southern Utah. The team went 3-3 last season on the road, including a 3-1 record in its final four road games, and Southern Utah goes up against a South Alabama team that went 2-10 in Sun Belt play a year ago. This is the first of two FBS games for Southern Utah, which plays Washington State on Sept. 14. Southern Utah has a new quarterback in Aaron Cantu, but the end result should be the same. Look for Southern Utah to get off to a decent start.

Projected Score: Southern Utah 38, South Alabama 10


Valparaiso at North Dakota, Thursday, 8:05

This is the first meeting in over 90 years for these schools, and Valparaiso won the only meeting (20-10) all the way back in 1920. This has all the makings of a one-sided contest as Valpo scored 18 points a game last season but allowed over 45 points. North Dakota finished 5-6 last season, but its 11th-ranked passing offense (297.1 yards per game) should have little resistance from a porous Valparaiso defense. Look for the first of four straight home games for North Dakota to end up on a winning note.

Projected Score: North Dakota 36, Valparaiso 0


Monmouth at #2 Montana State, Thursday, 9:05

A home game in Bozeman to open the season should be a spectacular treat for Montana State fans. Montana State was picked to win the 2013 Big Sky championship, and the Bobcats have won or shared the title in each of the previous three seasons. DeNarius McGhee passed for over 9,000 yards and 71 touchdowns in his career, and this game should not be much of a contest. The team led the Big Sky in scoring defense and total defense last year, so this game likely will be one-sided.

Projected Score: Montana State 42, Monmouth 7


Eastern Oregon at Portland State, Thursday, 10:05

Portland State holds a 9-5-1 overall record in the series, which resumes following a gap of nearly 50 years. Portland State won the last meeting, 41-6, back in 1964. Eastern Oregon is an NAIA team, and this could be a good omen for Portland State, which is 11-0 against opponents from lower divisions. Look for quarterback Kieran McDonagh and his 2,187 passing yards and 23 total touchdowns to play an integral role in this game.

Projected Score: Portland State 28, Eastern Oregon 10


Sacramento State at San Jose State, Thursday, 10:05

If Sacramento State gets off to a 0-2 start this season no one will bat an eyelash. Sacramento State has two games against FBS opponents to open the season, with the next one coming Sept. 5 against Arizona State. Still, Sacramento State has beaten Oregon State and Colorado the past couple years, so anything is possible. This is the first meeting between the two schools, so there are no notes to fall back on for playback. This is going to be a matchup between two solid QB’s in Sacramento State’s Garrett Safron and San Jose State’s David Fales.

Projected Score: San Jose State 42, Sacramento State 28


#21 Northern Arizona at Arizona, Friday, 9:05

Northern Arizona is one of the stronger FCS teams in the nation, but Arizona has won 11 of the 12 matches between these teams. Northern Arizona allowed 342.5 yards per game last year, which was second in the Big Sky. This game has all the makings of a high-yardage, high-scoring contest, so don’t be surprised if that takes place. With a good game, Northern Arizona’s Zach Bauman (3,676 total yards) could join the top 10 ranks of Big Sky rushers.

Projected Score: Arizona 37, Northern Arizona 17


UC Davis at South Dakota, Saturday, 3:05

If this game is anything like the last meeting, this could turn out to be one of the more exciting games of the weekend. South Dakota won the last meeting, 27-24, back in 2011, and this will be the first of three games South Dakota has against Big Sky opponents. Randy Wright will return at quarterback, and he threw for over 2,400 yards a year ago. UC Davis was 1-5 on the road, but this could be a closer game than expected because four of UC Davis’s losses were by less than eight points.

Projected Score: UC Davis 30, South Dakota 24


Langston at Northern Colorado, Saturday, 3:35

Northern Colorado starts a strong stretch at home, as it will play four of its first five games at Greeley. Northern Colorado enters the season on a three-game winning streak from a year ago. Langston, an Oklahoma-based school that takes part in the NAIA, is officially listed in the top 25 (23rd overall) entering the season. Seth Lobato threw for nearly 2,800 yards as Northern Colorado’s quarterback a year ago, so the team should be in good hands.

Projected Score: Northern Colorado 40, Langston 14


#8 Eastern Washington at Oregon State, Saturday, 6:05

Even though Eastern Washington is playing a top-25 NCAA FBS opponent, this still could be one of the better games of the weekend. Oregon State won 21-19 in 2000 and blasted Eastern Washington 56-17 in 2006. However, Oregon State lost to Sacramento State two years ago. No one is calling for an upset here, but Eastern Washington’s 11-3 record last year could make things interesting. Look for a game somewhere between the last two contests.

Projected Score: Oregon State 37, Eastern Washington 20


San Diego at Cal Poly, Saturday, 7:05

If Cal Poly’s rushing attack is as strong as it was a year ago, this game could be over by halftime. Cal Poly rushed for 323 yards last year in a 41-14 victory over San Diego. This is the third meeting between these schools and Cal Poly has won both. Cal Poly won a share of the Big Sky title a year ago with a 9-3 overall record. The game hinges on the Cal Poly rushing attack, which should be daunting one more time. Still, San Diego went 8-3 last year in FCS play so this game could be interesting.

Projected Score: Cal Poly 35, San Diego 27


Stephen F. Austin at Weber State, Saturday, 8:05

The key to this game is what Weber State team will come out in the first half. If it is the Weber State team that was outscored 172-97 in the first half, then Weber State could be in trouble. If Weber State gains a better foothold then the game could be more interesting. Weber State’s quarterback situation is unsettled as two players (Jordan Adamczyk and Austin Chipoletti) are competing for the starting job. Stephen F. Austin is a pretty solid FCS team.

Projected Score: Weber State 27, Stephen F. Austin 20


#11 Appalachian State at #14 Montana, Saturday, 9:05

This is the biggest game of the week involving a Big Sky school. Appalachian State won the last meeting 35-27, last year in Boone, N.C. These teams have met in the FCS national semifinals two previous times, in 2000 and 2009, and these are the two teams with the best winning records of the last decade. This is Appalachian State’s last FCS hurrah as the Mountaineers join the big FBS boys in the fall of 2014. Montana has not lost a home opener since the 2003 season, but this streak could be in jeopardy. Expect a back-and-forth game, like last year’s, and don’t be surprised if a little extra football gets played at the end.

Projected Score: Appalachian State 37, Montana 34 (OT)


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns