Last week, we earned a winning record to help our season record inch toward .500. In an atypical 12-game season that has provided an extra non-conference game for every team in the Big Sky Conference, the first month of the season has been particularly hard to pick.
We finished the final week before league play with a 5-4 mark. No. 4 UC Davis fought valiantly on both sides of the ball in covering +25.5 at No. 1 North Dakota State. The Aggies held the Bison to under 200 yards rushing and out-gained the reigning national champions in a 27-16 loss in which the visitors trailed 20-16 with 3:45 remaining in the game. Pick: correct.
No. 7 Montana State covered its -27 with a 56-21 win over Norfolk State. The Bobcats rushed for 449 yards, the third-best total in school history, while sophomore quarterback Tucker Rovig threw four touchdowns in his first start of the season. Pick: Correct.
No. 11 Eastern Washington failed to cover -11.5 and in fact failed to win at all in a 35-27 loss at Idaho. The non-conference game between conference rivals proved to be one of the most surprising results of the season’s first month. Pick: incorrect
No. 19 Montana piled up 579 yards of total offense and Dalton Sneed threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-27 win over Monmouth. But the Griz failed to cover -23.5 against the upstarts from West Long Branch, New Jersey. Pick: incorrect.
Northern Iowa moved up from No. 13 to No. 9 with a 13-6 win over Idaho State. But the Panthers, who play No. 5 Weber State this week in their third straight game against a Big Sky team, failed to cover as a 14-point favorite. Pick: incorrect.
No. 15 Illinois State beat Northern Arizona at its own game as Brady Davis threw for 419 yards to outduel Case Cookus (357 yards, four touchdowns) as ISU won 40-27 and covered -10.5. Pick: Incorect.
In its second straight impressive defensive performance against an FBS opponent, Sacramento State covered +22.5 by losing 34-20 to Fresno State. Earlier this season, Sac State lost 19-6. Pick: Correct.
South Dakota, a team that gave up 70 points to Oklahoma and 53 more the following week to Houston Baptist, held Northern Colorado to six points to cover -6 with a 14-6 win. Pick: Correct.
No. 3 South Dakota State had no problem dispatching of Southern Utah and covering -28.5 in a 43-7 win. Pick: Correct.
Week 4 Record: 5-4
Overall Record: 20-21-1
(All lines provided by 5dimes)
Lock of the Week: Portland State +4 (Season 3-1)
Best Investment: Cal Poly -105
Over/Under Lock of the Week: Northern Iowa/Weber State Under 36. (Season 1-3)
Saturday September 28
Northern Arizona @ Montana State (-12) O/U 67.5 1:00 PM
It will be the clash of the opposites this weekend in Bozeman. Northern Arizona is the Big Sky Conference’s top-rated pass attack, while the Bobcats have the top-rated rush offense. The Bobcats secondary will be tested by the arm of Case Cookus and the Lumberjacks 400 yard per game air attack. Cookus has connected with Stacy Chukwumezie for a touchdown in three games this season, and the Bobcats will need to find an answer.
Bryce Sterk has 8.5 sacks this season and will make his mark on this game. The Bobcats have been running it down their opponents throats this season. Northern Arizona’s Defense has struggled against the rush. Tucker Rovig made his first start last week for the Cats and seemed to give the passing attack some legs. The Cats look to get Troy Anderson and Isaiah Ifanse back this week. I like Rovig at quarterback, but I think the Cats will struggle at home on Saturday. I like Northern Arizona +12 in Bozeman.
Pick: Northern Arizona +12
Idaho @ Northern Colorado (+9.5) O/U 49 1:00 PM
Word on the street is that the Tubs were flowing at the Corner Club after the Vandals home upset win against Eastern Washington. Idaho had a balanced attack and put up 463 total yards last week. The real story was the Vandal defense. Big Sky and FCS Defensive Player of the Week Charles Akanno anchored the Idaho defense and held a good Eagle offense to 27 points. Northern Colorado has been disappointing this year. They have been outscored 158-49 this season and lost at home last week to a below average South Dakota team.
This game feels like a trap game for Idaho. Coming off the programs largest win since dropping down to the Big Sky, Idaho travels to Greeley. However, Northern Colorado is averaging 10 points per game this season and Jacob Knipp has been disappointing in his senior campaign. I don’t see the Bears getting on track this week. The Vandals will cover -9.5 in the first ever matchup between Idaho and Northern Colorado.
Pick: Idaho -9.5
Montana @ UC Davis (-7) O/U 59.5 2:00 PM
One of the biggest conference games of the week and in the nation. Montana’s Samuel Akem, Samori Toure and Jerry Loui-McGee are easily the best wide receiving core in the Big Sky. Both teams are top 4 in the Big Sky Conference in pass offense. However, the Griz are ranked dead last in pass defense, while the Aggies are ranked 4th.
The Aggies have had quite the non-conference schedule and have kept in close with Cal and NDSU. The Griz stroll into Davis, California oozing confidence. Dalton Sneed has torched FCS defenses this year, averaging 360 yards per game. Dante Olson and Robby Hauck have been tormenting offenses each week, both averaging 10 tackles per game. UC Davis will lean on senior quarterback Jake Maier to lead their pass attack. The two-time all-American threw for 300 yards last week but had three interceptions and no touchdowns in a loss at No. 1 ranked North Dakota State. Montana has a great shot to win this game, and it is worth a money line investment. But I like UC Davis to cover -7 at home on Saturday afternoon.
Pick: UC Davis -7
North Dakota @ Eastern Washington (-7.5) O/U 63 3:00 PM
Eastern Washington cannot wait to get back home. The two-week road trip resulted in two losses and over 800 yards of opponent offense. The Eagles have played two bad halves in the past two games and that has hurt them. But there is no place like the Inferno. Eric Barriere will get back on track this week against North Dakota’s pass defense. The Fighting Hawks only give up 112 yards through the air per game but have yet to face a strong pass attack. Eastern’s defense has been a huge disappointment this year. The Hawks average 300 yards of offense a game, and the Eagles have given up 287 yards per game this year. Look for Antoine Custer and Dre’ Sonte Dorton to have a big day on Saturday. This will be a shootout. I have no reason to believe the Eagle defense will improve, and lingering injuries won’t help that. However, I like the Eagles to get back on track in Cheney.
Pick: Eastern Washington -7.5
Portland State @ Idaho State (-4) O/U 48 3:05 PM
Idaho State has played a bad Division II program and two good programs in Utah and Northern Iowa. Against non-division II foes, the Bengals have scored 6 points, while Portland State has scored 23. Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander is a dual threat that has had success to begin the year. He has passed for 300 yards twice this season and leads the team in rushing. The Vikings have a very strong front seven that will have a good shot at stopping Idaho State running back Ty Flanagan, who is averaging 71 rushing yards per game. Idaho State has a great defense, but I worry about their offense here. I’m taking Portland State +4 as my lock of the week this week.
Pick: Portland State +4 (Lock of the Week)
Northern Iowa @ Weber State (-2.5) O/U 36 6:00 PM
The top-10 game of the week will take place in Ogden, Utah. The No. 5 ranked Weber State Wildcats take on the No. 5 ranked Northern Iowa Panthers. The Panthers are 2-0 this season against the Big Sky, but have beat Idaho State and Southern Utah, at home. This week the Panthers will leave the friendly confines of their dome and look to play this contest in the rain. Northern Iowa started the season by almost defeating Iowa State on the road but have since coasted against mediocre Big Sky teams. Weber State held a tough San Diego State team to six points in their opener and lost a close one to Nevada last week.
UNI is led by redshirt freshman Will McElvain who has not thrown an interception this season. The Big Sky’s 2nd ranked pass defense will have their hands full with a UNI pass heavy offense. Weber’s starting quarterback Jake Constantine is set to miss his second consecutive game and back up Kaden Jenks kept it close last week despite going 6 of 21 for 57 yards. The over under is 36 and I’m going to take the under. Look for Weber State to win this game and cover in a low scoring contest. Weber State -2.5. Under 36.
Pick: Weber State -2.5
Cal Poly @ Southern Utah (-1.5) O/U 66 6:05 PM
Cal Poly comes into this game giving up 40 points per game, while Southern Utah gives up 42. Southern Utah has the last ranked rush defense in the Big Sky and that’s going to be an issue this weekend. Cal Poly’s RB Duy Tran-Sampson is averaging 105 yards per game. J.J. Koski has added a great receiving option for the Mustangs this year. Southern Utah is coming off a large road loss against South Dakota State and are looking to get their second home win in as many games. I don’t think that happens this weekend. I like Cal Poly +1.5. This is also the best investment of the week (Bet $105 to win $100).
Pick: Cal Poly +1.5
|Northern Arizona||(-12)||O/U 67.5||1:00 pm|
|Pick: Northern Arizona +12|
|Idaho @ Northern Colorado||(+9.5)||O/U 49||1:00 pm|
|Pick: Idaho -9.5|
|Montana @ UC Davis||(-7)||O/U 59.5||2:00 pm|
|Pick: Davis -7|
|North Dakota @ Eastern Washington||(-7.5)||O/U 63||3:00pm|
|Pick: Eastern Washington -7.5|
|Portland State @ Idaho State||(-4)||O/U 48||3:05 pm|
|Pick: Portland State +4 (Lock)|
|Northern Iowa @ Weber State||(-2.5)||O/U 36||6:00 pm|
|Pick: Weber State -2.5|
|Cal Poly @ Southern Utah||(-1.5)||O/U 66||6:05 pm|
|Pick: Cal Poly +1.5|