After an abysmal winless week that proves why you should never pick spreads in the Big Sky Conference, we bounced back with a strong showing.
In a pick ‘em game in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Montana State’s final five minutes of operation, or lack there of, resulted in a blocked punt in the end-zone that UND landed on for a game-winning touchdown in a 16-12 slugfest. Bad beat even without a point spread.
Southern Utah, losers of 18 out of 20 games entering last weekend, caught lightning in a bottle, exploding for 59 points in a 25-point victory over Idaho State that ensured the Bengals came nowhere close to covering -7.
Other than those anomalies, we predicted correctly to post a 4-2 mark last week and move into November 33-39-2.
Montana ran the ball a season-high 55 times for 254 yards, giving backup quarterback Cam Humphrey plenty of support in his first career start on the way to a 34-17 win over Eastern Washington. The Grizzlies easily covered -7.5 against the 2018 national runners-up.
Sacramento State remained undefeated against the spread despite Cal Poly holding Kevin Thomson and the Hornets’ passing attack in check. Thomson threw for 171 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. But the Hornets’ run game rushed for 348 yards, averaged 7.2 yards per carry and saw Elijah Dotson break out for Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honors. The junior rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sac to a 38-14 win to easily cover -14.5.
Northern Arizona kicker Luis Aguilar nailed a field goal with four seconds left for the most thrilling win of the week. NAU entered the contest with Portland State as 2.5-point underdogs and covered +2.5 with a 31-29 win.
And Weber State won its 24th Big Sky Conference game in its last 28 league tries by taking apart UC Davis 36-20, moving to 4-0 in league, 6-0 against FCS opponents and easily covering -2.5.
Week 8 Record: 4-2
Overall Record: 33-39-2
(All lines provided by 5dimes)
Lock of the Week: Montana State -13 (Season: 6-3)
Best Investment: Cal Poly +255
Over Under Lock: NAU/Eastern Washington Under 82 (Season 5-4)
Saturday November 2
Southern Utah @ Montana State (-13) O/U 59.5 12:00 PM
Southern Utah is coming off of a huge win last week against Idaho State. The Thunderbirds finally put together a complete game. But they are on the road this weekend, and that doesn’t bode well for them, particularly given their struggles stopping the run the last two years.
The Bobcats offense is a huge question mark. Tucker Rovig has struggled with the air attack and the last two weeks, the offense looks out of sorts. Head coach Jeff Choate will get wildcat extraordinaire Travis Jonsen and sophomore stud tailback Isaiah Infanse back on track this week against the worst rush defense in the conference. Montana State has to look good to get confidence going into if the Bobcats want to replicate last season’s November surge into the playoffs. Look for the Cats defense to have a big day. Montana State -13. This is my Lock of the Week.
Pick: Montana State (-13)
Northern Arizona @ Eastern Washington (-13) O/U 82 2:05 PM
Case Cookus takes on a middle of the pack passing defense in Eastern Washington on Saturday. The NAU super-senior quarterback has had plenty of success through the air this season. The Eagles are out of playoff contention and I don’t think there is a lot of motivation for the 2018 national runner-up left. Eastern has an explosive offense, and Northern Arizona’s defense is bad, but I like how the Lumberjacks matchup. I think the Eagles win, but 13 points is too much.
Pick: Northern Arizona +13
Northern Colorado @ Idaho State (-16) O/U 60 2:30 PM
Idaho State has been a nightmare to pick this season. But the dome has been the Bengals’ friend and here we are, home in Pocatello this weekend. Northern Colorado has had an interesting season as well, but the defense has been consistently bad and the Bears don’t perform on the road. I think Idaho State’s offense will explode on Saturday, and the Bears won’t be able to keep up. Idaho State has been involved in five games this season where at least one team has scored 45 points. The Bengals are facing the worst offense and defense in the Big Sky and ISU might make it six with a third scoring performance of its own. Add that with the trip to Pocatello for the Bears and I really don’t like their chances.
Pick: Idaho State -16
Montana @ Portland State (+8.5) O/U 60 3:05 PM
Montana is trying to get over the shocking upset at home last season at the hands of the Vikings. The veteran Griz will have that on their mind. UM senior quarterback Dalton Sneed likely won’t play for a second straight, but Cam Humphrey looked solid last week. The Portland State defense could prove to be tricky for Humphrey, but I think Bobby Hauck will have his team prepared. Montana’s newfound ability to run the ball — the Griz rushed for 254 yards last week against Eastern Washington — will help combat a flex defense that can give PSU opponents fits.
Portland State’s offense has been above average, but the Griz defense looks to give them some problems. This will be a tough game for the Griz, but I think Dante Olson, Robby Hauck and Jace Lewis will make their presence felt. I’ll take the Griz -8.5 in Hillsboro.
Pick: Montana -8.5
Cal Poly @ Idaho (-9) O/U 58 3:05 PM
Oh Idaho. They have looked like a playoff contender at home, but an NAIA team on the road. They have had two impressive wins at home against Eastern Washington and Idaho State as well as a tough six-point loss to Weber State. Cal Poly has struggled on the road against good talent this season, but I don’t know what category Idaho falls in. I think Idaho has the defensive front to keep Cal Poly’s triple option at bay. I like the Vandals -9 on the Palouse.
Pick: Idaho -9
Weber State @ Sacramento State (-7) O/U 52 7:00 PM
Easily the biggest game in the Big Sky this week. Weber State looks to be Sacramento State’s toughest match up to date on paper. Weber State has the second-best defense in the Big Sky statistically, while Sacramento State has the best scoring defense. The difference is that Sacramento State’s offense is much better than Weber’s.
You know Weber head coach Jay Hill is going to give Sac head coach Troy Taylor’s offense all it can handle. At this point, I don’t see anything slowing Kevin Thomson and Troy Taylor down. I like Sacramento State to remain undefeated against the spread.
Pick: Sacramento State -7
|Southern Utah @ Montana State||(-13)||59.5||12:00 pm|
|Pick: Montana State (-13)|
|Northern Arizona @ Eastern Washington||(-13)||O/U 82||2:05 pm|
|Pick: Northern Arizona +13|
|Northern Colorado @ Idaho State||(-16)||O/U 60||2:30 pm|
|Pick: Idaho State (-16)|
|Montana @ Portland State||(+8.5)||O/U 60||3:05 pm|
|Pick: Montana -8.5|
|Cal Poly @ Idaho||(-9)||O/u 58||3:05 pm|
|Pick: Idaho -9|
|Weber State @ Sacramento State||(-7)||O/U 52||7:00 pm|
|Pick: Sacramento State (-7)|