Big Sky picks: Tough road tests for Easterm Washington, Northern Arizona

September 29, 2018

Northern Colorado (0-4, 0-1) at North Dakota (2-2)

UND’s win at Sam Houston State two weeks ago appears to be fool’s gold, as the Texas school is now off to a rare 1-2 start. UND, which was ranked No. 22 last week, was then upset in Grand Forks by Idaho State. This is good news for Northern Colorado, which gave seventh-ranked Weber State all it could handle last week before the fourth quarter. The Bears are decent, and have given all four of their tough opponents fits, but they don’t know how to win.

The pick: North Dakota 38, Northern Colorado 17

Portland State (1-3, 0-1)) at Idaho (1-2, 0-1)

Idaho, at least this week, will resemble the Big Sky power it was decades ago against the hapless Vikings. Idaho’s schedule this month has featured a good team (Fresno State), bad team (Western New Mexico), good team (UC Davis) and bad team (Portland State). I’d like to see how the Vandals do against a decent team to try and gauge if they’ll be a FCS postseason contender.

The pick: Idaho 46, Portland State 27

Northern Arizona (2-2, 1-0) at Idaho State (2-2, 1-0)

The Bengals appear to be improved, and the Brothers Gueller have a nice opportunity to earn another Big Sky win in Pocatello against the limping Lumberjacks. Last week NAU and Southern Utah went down to the wire in Flagstaff a game void of their starting quarterbacks (injuries). Idaho State has an experienced quarterback and a team that won on the road. Hard to pick against that here.

The pick: Idaho State 28, Northern Arizona 20

Montana (3-1, 1-0) at Cal Poly (1-3, 0-1)

It’s a bad pun, but it’s true: Cal Poly doesn’t have the horses on defense, and the Mustangs’ triple-option isn’t designed to play catch-up (Exhibit A: 70-17 loss to EWU). Montana isn’t quite as explosive as the Eagles, but if QB Dalton Sneed has a similar performance to last week and the Griz’s front seven doesn’t get chewed up by that option, it’ll be just fine.

The pick: Montana 35, Cal Poly 17

No. 5 Eastern Washington (3-1, 1-0) at Montana State (3-1, 1-0)

The Bobcats are big, physical and have schemes that fit their personnel nicely. Andersen and Co. will be a chore to corral, but the Bobcats don’t appear to have elite speed on the edges. EWU is very balanced and explosive, and it has the luxury of a deep, veteran offensive line that’s seen all sorts of blitzes. MSU’s defense could be flummoxed by either Gage Gubrud’s arm and/or feet, or the Eagles’ stable of running backs. Even if the Bobcats are successful churning out yards and winning the time of possession, it will be hard pressed to go touchdown for touchdown with this EWU.

The pick: EWU 42, Montana State 24

Bye week: UC Davis, Sacramento State, Southern Utah

Collingwood’s season record: 34-8

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