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Big Sky Picks: Eastern Washington needs a spark heading into its bye week

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 11, 2019

Eastern Washington beat writer Ryan Collingwood predicts Week 7 games in the Big Sky Conference. He went 5-2 last week and has an overall record of 48-10.

Sacramento State (3-2, 2-0 Big Sky) at (6) Montana State (5-1, 2-0): The Hornets, who are a shade outside the STATS FCS Top 25, are very underrated. They handled its two Big Sky opponents EWU and Northern Colorado a combined 98-27, gave Arizona State and Fresno State all they could handle, and feature an offense that ranks 15th (464 ypg) and a scoring defense that ranks 18th (19.8 ppg). Quarterback Kevin Thomson and defensive end George Obinna, who both had season-ending injuries in 2018, are the real deal. But so is Montana State, though its had some troubles in its last two wins over Northern Arizona and Cal Poly. This is essentially the conference’s top game this week, and will ultimately thrust the Sacramento State into the FCS national spotlight. Sacramento State 38, Montana State 31.

Idaho (2-4, 0-2) at Portland State (3-3, 1-1): The Vandals have yet to win an away game since dropping back down to the FCS level in 2018, and it has little to do with trying to weather wild, raucous road environments. Northern Colorado’s home venue isn’t exactly Washington-Grizzly Stadium, and Idaho still lost. Talent-wise, this game is a push, but I like the Vikings the venue it shares with local high schools, Hillsboro Stadium: Portland State 28, Idaho 24.

Cal Poly (2-3, 1-1) at (24) UC Davis (2-4, 0-2): Three weeks ago we thought the Aggies were a legitimate national title contender. Now it’s a loss away from cementing its absence from the 2019 FCS playoffs. Cal Poly’s defense (457 yards allowed per game) doesn’t have the juice to give UC Davis its fourth straight loss. UC Davis 42, Cal Poly 27.

North Dakota (3-2) at Idaho State (2-3, 1-1): I can’t get a good read on either of these teams, but the the Fighting Hawks are good in domes and have beaten a pair of ranked teams this season in Sam Houston State and UC Davis. Idaho State’s offense hasn’t been very consistent. Coin flip. UND 30, Idaho State 27

Southern Utah (1-5, 0-2) at (4) Weber State (3-2, 2-0): Remember when these two teams shared the Big Sky title in 2017 and were on their way to creating a legitimate FCS in-state rivalry? Seems like a long time ago as both programs have gone in wildly different directions. Southern Utah is a bottom-dweller with a bad defense. Weber State is on course to win a third-straight league title and is turning into a FCS heavyweight. Weber State 35, Southern Utah 10.

Northern Colorado (1-5, 1-1) at Eastern Washington (2-4, 1-1): Transitive property doesn’t favor EWU if you look at the Eagles’ 35-27 loss to Idaho and Northern Colorado’s 27-24-win over Idaho the following week. But that’s a fool’s game in the Big Sky. As enigmatic as EWU’s offense has been, it still ranks 10th nationally in total offense (474 ypg) and is often great at home, which could spell disaster the for the oft-struggling Bears, whose defense ranks near the bottom of the FCS (501 yards allowed a game, 315 through the air). Eagles get a much-needed boost before their bye and win school record 12th straight home game. EWU 45, Northern Colorado 28.

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