Big Sky picks: Eastern Washington won’t let Big Sky title, first-round bye slip from its hands
Idaho (4-6) at Florida (yes, the Gators)
An underachieving season in Idaho’s return to the Big Sky will be compounded by a season-ending laugher in Gainesville. The Vandals didn’t get paid for their blowout losses to EWU, UC Davis and Idaho State, but at least Florida cut them a fat check.
The pick: Florida 52, Idaho 17
Sacramento State (2-7) UC Davis (8-2)
Remember when the Hornets were ranked in some preseason top-25 polls, and I considered them a rising program after taking Montana to the wire in Missoula earlier this season? Swing and a miss. They’ll face a rival UC Davis club that’s eager to put a blowout loss at EWU last week behind them. The Aggies should roll in a game played at the University of Nevada, due to wildfires in California.
The pick: UC Davis 44, Sacramento State 21
North Dakota (6-4) at Northern Arizona (3-6)
What a disappointing season for NAU. After a top-25 ranking and a season opening win at FBS UTEP, the wheels started to come off when All-American QB Case Cookus went down with a season-ending injury. Then its No. 2 QB, UW transfer Daniel Bridge-Gadd, went down with a season-ending injury a month later. Then, last week’s conference game with Sac. State is cancelled due to wildfire smoke in California. Is this the end of the Jerome Sauers era in Flagstaff?
The pick: North Dakota 28, NAU 21
Southern Utah (1-9) at Cal Poly (4-6)
Another program down to its third-string QB, SUU ends it nightmare season at Cal Poly, which is playing its best football of the season. Record-breaking running back Joe Protheroe and Co.upset then-ranked Idaho State last week. Expect the Mustangs to run all over one of the country’s worst defenses.
The pick: Cal Poly 42, SUU 28
No. 25 Montana State (6-4) at Montana (6-4)
The Brawl of the Wild, the best FCS rivalry game in the country. Both the Griz and Cats had mediocre seasons, but the winner of this game has a chance to hear its name called Sunday during the FCS selection show. Griz head coach Bobby Hauck went 5-2 in this game during his first stint in Mussoula, but a big reason why he’s back in the saddle is because previous head coach, Bob Stitt, lost consecutive Cat-Griz contests. This Montana team has less weapons that Montana State (QB Troy Andersen is the Bill Brasky of the state of Montana, for you old-school SNL fans), which, I believe, also has a better defense. But things like that often don’t matter in rivalry tilts like this.
This pick: Montana State 38, Montana 28
No. 3 Weber State (8-2) at Idaho State (6-4)
Formerly ranked Idaho State picked a bad time to get pushed around in a upset loss at Cal Poly last week. Now it absolutely has to upset third-ranked Weber State to be even be considered for the postseason. Idaho State’s offense is explosive, but the Wildcats’ defense has contained better, and its offense has improved in a league-best five-game winning streak.
The pick: Weber State 35, Idaho State 32
No. 4 Eastern Washington (8-2) at Portland State (4-6)
Portland State is one of the more athletic teams in the conference, and boasts a defense that’s held five of its seven its Big Sky foes to 20 points. Not quite as impressive as EWU’s offense, which is ranked in the country and defense that leads the Big Sky (16 ppg in conference play). Oh, and the Eagles are playing for a conference title and a first-round berth. That’s quite the confluence.
The pick: EWU 38, Portland State 17
Collingwood’s season record: 70-18