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Big Sky picks: Don’t expect Northern Colorado to give Eastern Washington trouble in Greeley this time

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 2, 2018, 4:15 p.m.

Eastern Washington University TE Belk Henderson rambles for a touchdown against Idaho Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Cheney, Wash. Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington University TE Belk Henderson rambles for a touchdown against Idaho Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Cheney, Wash. Dan Pelle/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Sacramento State (2-6) at No. 4 Weber State (6-2)

Quarterback Kevin Thomson has missed the last three games with a back injury for Sacramento State, and its defense has yielded over 41 points the last five weeks. That’s a recipe for disaster against a top-tier Weber State defense and an offense finding a late-season stride.

The pick: Weber State 40, Sac. State 18

Idaho State (5-3) at Portland State (4-4)

Portland State’s defense has given up an average of 17 points its last four games, and has won three in a row. The surging Vikings haven’t faced an offense like Idaho State’s, though (well, not since getting smacked 62-14 at Oregon in Week 2). QB Tanner Gueller sparks an Idaho State offense that ranks fifth in the country in total offense (524 ypg). If the Bengals win their last three games, they’ll earn at least a share of the conference title.

The pick: Idaho State 38, Portland State 21

Northern Arizona (3-5) at No. 6 UC Davis (7-1)

The swooning Lumberjacks are down to their third-string QB after injuries to Case Cookus and Daniel Bridge-Gadd. UC Davis is clicking on all cylinders. Ouch.

The pick: UC Davis 51, NAU 24

Cal Poly (3-5) at Montana State (4-4)

All four of the Bobcats’ losses have come against very good teams (South Dakota, EWU, Weber State and Idaho State), three on the road. Cal Poly is nowhere near that tier. MSU head coach Jeff Choate now has a very manageable schedule the rest of the way (Poly, Northern Colorado, and at Montana), and I expect the Bobcats to finish 7-4.

The pick: Montana State 28, Cal Poly 20

North Dakota (5-3) at Idaho (3-5)

The Fighting Hawks, ranked No. 22 last week, need a late-season push to be considered for the FCS playoffs. The Vandals are 3-0 at home, but their anemic offense is going to have trouble in the Kibbie Dome against a UND team with something to play for.

The pick: North Dakota 31, Idaho 24

Montana (4-4) at Southern Utah (1-7)

Until last week, the Griz hadn’t lost three games in a row since George H.W. Bush was in office (1992). It won’t get to four. Not only does SUU have one of the worst defenses in the country (546 yards allowed per game), it’s down to its third-string quarterback. Montana is an average football team, not a bad one.

The pick: Montana 44, SUU 21

No. 5 Eastern Washington (6-2) at Northern Colorado (2-7)

Sure, Northern Colorado has won its last two games (NAU and Southern Utah), but it also faced a pair of green, third-string QBs in those wins. EWU brings the country’s fourth-best offense (526 ypg) to UNC’s grass field, and a defense that leads the Big Sky in points allowed (15.8) in conference play. UNC, which has given up 37 sacks this year, often gives EWU trouble in Greeley. This won’t be one of those years. Eagles win their 11th straight against the cellar-dwelling Bears.

The pick: EWU 38, UNC 17

Collingwood’s season record: 57-15

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