Big Sky Notebook: Eastern Washington and Southern Utah meet again before the Thunderbirds leave Big Sky | Eastern Washington University
Eastern Washington’s opponent this weekend, southern Utah, begins a kind of farewell tour with Saturday’s game.
A member of the Big Sky Conference since 2012, the Thunderbirds leave for the new Western Athletic Conference after this season.
The move is lateral – the resurrected WAC is now part of the Championship Soccer Division – and makes Southern Utah its fourth FCS conference since moving from Division II in 1993.
This fall, the WAC has six football teams, including Texas Schools Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Abilene Christian, Lamar University and Tarleton State. Dixie State, which is located in St. George, Utah – just 52 miles from the Southern Utah campus in Cedar City – is the sixth member.
If BYU has functioned as a backup member of the Pac-12 this season, then Dixie State is Big Sky’s analogue. BYU has five Pac-12 teams on its schedule; Dixie State has four from the Big Sky.
For the Thunderbirds, this is their last chance at a Big Sky title, a feat they’ve achieved twice in their decade with the conference, in 2015 and 2017. They have an overall record of 35- 35 in conference matches.
Their departure from the Big Sky gives the conference a more manageable number of teams (12) from a schedule perspective, which will allow for more balanced schedules going forward. The conference has already released its calendars for 2022, 2023 and 2024, settling into a rotation that ensures each team faces all other teams at least once on the road and once at home during that time.
The WAC’s presence and potential growth could also make it a natural source of non-conference opponents for the Big Sky, especially if it expands to include more schools in West Texas.
Saturday’s game will be the sixth time Eastern Washington and Southern Utah have met as conference enemies. Eastern is 3-2 during that streak, though both of his losses – in 2017 and 2012 – came while playing as a ranked team.
Montana braces for yet another Cal Poly attack
While Eastern will look to avoid stumbling this weekend against Southern Utah, the Eagles’ opponent next weekend – Montana (4-0) vie to do the same in a home game against Cal Poly ( 1-2).
Under former head coach Tim Walsh, Cal Poly was known for his triple-option offense. But now under the guidance of second-year coach Beau Baldwin, the Mustangs are leading an attack similar to the one Baldwin made at Eastern.
Montana coach Bobby Hauck said he welcomes the change.
“This is the first time in many years (we don’t have) a true triple option squad in the calendar, so we’re very, very happy that Cal Poly no longer offers the triple option,” Hauck said. at a press conference this week. . “Extremely happy, happy. It is as if Christmas has returned.
Hauck said what Cal Poly performs is “pretty standard stuff” on offense and pointed to the familiar faces of the Mustangs staff.
“They have a bunch of contingents from the East (Washington) there: Paul Wulff is there, and JC Sherritt and Erik Meyer are on staff, so they’re all guys we know well and love. “said Hauck.
UC Davis seeks to overthrow Weber
Weber State, the four-time defending Big Sky champion, hosts UC Davis on Saturday to open the two-team conference.
The 15th-seeded Wildcats (1-2) have won the last five games of the series with the 10th-seeded Aggies, who are 16-13 in Big Sky games under coach Dan Hawkins. . The Wildcats are 29-3 on the same stretch.
“No weaknesses, and really I’m not saying it: no weaknesses,” Hawkins said at a press conference Monday. “If we want to beat Weber, we have to play good football. These are just facts because they are going to play good football, and they still do. It’s a different year, the same for the Wildcats.
Hawkins praised the Wildcats’ consistency and also highlighted the play of senior wide receiver Rashid Shaheed, who has nine receptions and 126 yards this season, putting him in a class with East quarterback Eric Barrière.
“Eric Barriere is number 1 in the conference,” said Hawkins, “but I would put Rashid (there) too. He’s an exciting and dynamic player, and they can shoot with him.
Weber State – with losses this season to Utah and FCS second-seeded team James Madison – are set to face East Washington at Roos Field on October 23.
Barnum does good on the beer offer
Portland State coach Bruce Barnum has offered to buy a beer from anyone of age who attended the Vikings game last weekend at Hillsboro Stadium.
The game – a 21-7 Vikings victory over western Oregon – drew 3,124 fans, according to official attendance figures, and Barnum tweeted a photo this week of the final tab: $ 14,448.
Barny’s Beer Garden’s bill lists 786 IPA Deschutes Fresh Squeezed and 1,260 Coors Lights.
“Everyone I spoke to after the game had a blast,” Barnum said in a video posted Wednesday. “My hope is that a piece of those who were there will come back and watch the Viks again.”
In their two non-conference home games in 2019, the Vikings’ average attendance was 3,264.
Portland State (1-2) hosts Montana State No.12 (2-1) on Saturday.