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Big Sky picks: Pac-12 foes loom for Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Southern Utah and UC Davis

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 13, 2018

Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) throws a pass during the second half of a college football game, Sat., Sept. 30, 2017, in Cheney, Wash. Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington quarterback Gage Gubrud (8) throws a pass during the second half of a college football game, Sat., Sept. 30, 2017, in Cheney, Wash. Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Idaho State (1-0) at California (2-0) - Ex-EWU head coach Beau Baldwin often gave the Bengals’ defense headaches. Imagine what Baldwin, now Cal’s offensive coordinator, will do to the Pocatello squad with Power 5 talent at his disposal.

The pick: Cal 48, Idaho State 17

Southern Utah (0-2) at Arizona (0-2) - First-year Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin and preseason Heisman candidate Khalil Tate are off to a rocky start in Tucson. The Wildcats are about to uncork their frustrations on the poor Thunderbirds, who face their second Pac-12 foe in as many weeks.

The pick: Arizona 54, Southern Utah 14

UC Davis (2-0) at Stanford (2-0) - Heisman candidate Bryce Love is out with an injury, but that won’t matter. The Cardinal defense held powerful USC to three points last week. UC Davis has a dynamic FCS offense, but it’s not in the same realm as ninth-ranked Stanford.

The pick: Stanford 38, UC Davis 13

Wagner (1-1) at Montana State (1-1) - The last time the program from Staten Island, New York, played a Big Sky Conference school, it lost in the 2012 FCS playoffs at Eastern Washington. The Seahawks are making the trip to Bozeman this week to face a very physical Bobcats team in an environment that’s unlike anything in the Northeast Conference. Montana State’s shaky offense needs a confidence booster, and this could be it.

The pick: Montana State 31, Wagner 20

Montana (2-0) at Western Illinois (0-2) - The Leathernecks, who were clipped 26-23 at Montana State two weeks ago, can’t drop another non-conference game, because it’s tough sledding the rest of the way in the brawny Missouri Valley Conference. WIU’s offense is struggling, and the confident Griz won’t make things easier. Expect at least one touchdown from Plummer-Worley product Jerry Louie-McGee.

The pick: Montana 34, Western Illinois 21.

Northern Arizona (1-1) at Missouri State (1-1) - NAU said this week that injured QB Case Cookus is a gametime decision after getting knocked out the game early against EWU last week and checking into a hospital during the second quarter. So, in the words of George Straight, “If you’ll buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.” It won’t need Cookus against the MVC’s bottom-feeding Bears, anyway. Second-string QB Daniel Bridge-Gadd, a UW transfer, could start for many Big Sky Conference teams and gave EWU some fits last week in Flagstaff.

The pick: NAU 37, Missouri State 20

College of Idaho (0-3) at Portland State (0-2) - Six years ago, Carroll College, then a NAIA national power, went to Portland and gave the Vikings all they could handle before getting worn down in the fourth quarter. The winless College of Idaho, just a fifth-year program, has a ways to go before it competes with any FCS team.

The pick: Portland State 49, College of Idaho 10

South Dakota (1-1) at Weber State (1-1) - A pair of Top 25 FCS programs tangle in Ogden. Two solid defenses, but the Coyotes’ offense is a little more dynamic. One of these teams got boat raced by Utah. The other nearly beat Kansas State.

The pick: South Dakota 28, Weber State 21

Brown (0-0) at Cal Poly (0-2) - Good news for the Mustangs, whose brutal September schedule includes No. 1 North Dakota State, No. 15 Weber State and No. 6 Eastern Washington - it gets to face a hapless Brown program picked to finish last in the Ivy League. The pick: Cal Poly 48, Brown 24

Sacramento State (1-1) at Northern Colorado (0-2) - The Bears choked away opportunities to take a lead in their losses to McNeese State and South Dakota, a pair of programs currently ranked in the Top 25. Conversely, ascending FCS program Sacramento State led FBS San Diego State midway through the fourth quarter after knocking out the Aztecs’ QB, but fizzled down the stretch. UNC’s Jacob Knipp and Sac. State’s Thomson are both good QBs, but Thomson, a UNLV transfer who helped the Hornets win seven games last season, knows how to win.

The pick: Sac State 38, UNC 34

Eastern Washington (2-0) at Washington State (2-0) - The Cougars will have their hands full with EWU QB Gage Gubrud and the Eagles’ FCS-leading offense. But, unlike WSU’s 45-42 loss to the Cheney school in both teams’ 2016 season opener, there won’t see any surprises. This is Week 3 and WSU is now quite aware of what Gubrud can do. On paper, WSU has the edge at most positions, but this game will likely come down to if WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew has the time to find his stable of talented receivers (and behind an offensive line that hasn’t yielded a sack). If EWU’s defensive line and blitz packages can make Minshew uncomfortable, and force him into tough throws, the Eagles have a chance. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

The pick: WSU 46 EWU 40

Bye week: Idaho

Collingwood’s season record: 20-3

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