Big Sky Conference football notebook

Following is a look around the Big Sky Conference by assistant commissioner Jon Kasper.

This Week’s Sky Highlights

The first full week of the college football season for Big Sky teams features 12 games, including 10 against FBS teams…Four teams open the season on Thursday night. Idaho State is at Utah, while Cal Poly is at New Mexico State. North Dakota plays its first game under new coach Bubba Schweigert at San Jose State, while Weber State opens the Jay Hill era at No. 18 Arizona State…Portland State and UC Davis both open Saturday against Pac-12 opponents. Portland State is at Oregon State, which has lost to Big Sky teams in two of the past three seasons. UC Davis opens at No. 11 Stanford. The Aggies stunned the Cardinal in 2005…Southern Utah, a playoff team in 2013, takes on Nevada in Reno…No. 5 Montana treks to Laramie to face Wyoming and its new coach Craig Bohl, who guided North Dakota State to three straight FCS national titles…No. 23 Northern Arizona opens at San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference. That game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network…No. 18 Montana State begins life without DeNarius McGhee when it travels to Arkansas State of the Sun Belt…Sacramento State opens its season at Incarnate Word of the Southland Conference. Sacramento State is under the direction of Jody Sears, who guided Weber State the previous two seasons…No. 1 Eastern Washington plays its second game of the season, playing host to NAIA UM-Western. The Eagles opened with a 56-35 win over Sam Houston State…Northern Colorado opens its campaign next Saturday against UNLV.

This Week’s Sky Schedule

 Thursday, Aug. 28

Idaho State at Utah………………………………………………………………. 5:35

TV: Pac-12 Network

Cal Poly at New Mexico State……………………………………………… 6:05

TV: Fox College Sports Pacific/ESPN3

North Dakota at San Jose State…………………………………………… 7:05

Internet: ESPN3

Weber State at No. 19 Arizona State …………………………………… 7:35

TV: Pac-12 Network

 Saturday, August 30

Southern Utah at Nevada……………………………………………………. 12:05

Internet: Nevada Web site

Portland State at Oregon State…………………………………………….. 1:05

TV: Pac-12 Network

UC Davis at No. 11 Stanford…………………………………………………… 1:05

TV: Pac-12 Network

No. 5 Montana at Wyoming…………………………………………………. 2:05

TV: ROOT SPORTS

No. 23 Northern Arizona at San Diego State ……………………… 4:05

TV: CBS Sports Network

Sacramento State at Incarnate Word ………………………………….. 6:05

Internet: Incarnate Word Web site video stream

No. 18 Montana State at Arkansas State………………………………. 6:05

TV: ESPN3

UM-Western at No. 1 Eastern Washington…………………………… 6:05

TV: SWX. Internet: WatchBigSky

Times Local to Site/Subject to Change

Around the Big Sky

 EAGLES SOAR ON ESPN: Eastern Washington opened the season with a 56-35 win over Sam Houston State in the nation’s first college football game last Saturday. The game was televised on ESPN, and a capacity crowd of 10,310 was on hand. EWU QB Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 61 yards, giving him 1,006 rushing yards in his career. Adams now has 7,252 passing yards and 79 career passing touchdowns. Adams has thrown 65 TD passes in his last 17 games dating back to EWU’s loss to Sam Houston State in the 2012 semifinals. The Big Sky career record for TD passes is 98. Eastern Washington tied a school record by running 100 offensive plays. The Eagles rolled up 624 yards of total offense and scored 35 second-half points. EWU has won 11 straight regular-season games at home. The win ended a string of seven consecutive wins by Sam Houston State over Big Sky teams dating back to 2011. Six of those wins came in the playoffs.

WELCOME TO THE LEAGUE: North Dakota’s Bubba Schweigert and Weber State’s Jay Hill are the two new coaches in the Big Sky in 2014. Schweigert, a former long-time assistant at North Dakota, was previously the defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois. Hill comes to Weber State from the University of Utah, where he was a player and an assistant coach. North Dakota opens its season on Thursday against San Jose State of the Mountain West Conference. Hill and the Weber State Wildcats also open on Thursday, Aug. 28, against Arizona State of the Pac-12.

FAMILIAR FACE, NEW PLACE: Jody Sears begins his third season as a head coach in the Big Sky, but his first with Sacramento State on Saturday when the Hornets face Incarnate Word of the Southland Conference. Sears spent the previous two years as the head coach at Weber State. He was hired as the Hornets’ defensive coordinator, but was elevated to interim head coach after the resignation of Marshall Sperbeck.

BIG SKY VS. FBS: Big Sky teams will face FBS teams 17 times this season. All 13 Big Sky teams play at least one FBS team, while Idaho State, Portland State, Southern Utah and UC Davis each play two. Big Sky teams will face two teams from the Sun Belt Conference, seven from the Pac-12, and eight from the Mountain West. The Big Sky finished 2-14 against FBS teams in 2013. Eastern Washington upset No. 25 Oregon State, and Southern Utah beat South Alabama of the Sun Belt. The Big Sky has produced seven wins over FBS teams the past three seasons. A Big Sky team has notched a win over a Pac-12 team each of the previous three seasons. In 2011, Sacramento State beat Oregon State. In 2012, the Hornets beat Colorado.

FOUR TEAMS RANKED: Four Big Sky teams open the 2014 season ranked in The Sports Network Top 25 and the FCS Coaches’ Poll. Eastern Washington is ranked No. 1 by The Sports Network and No. 2 by the Coaches. Montana is fifth in both polls. Montana State is 18th in the Sports Network Poll and 19th in the Coaches’ Poll. Northern Arizona is 23rd in the TSN poll and 25th in the Coaches’ Poll. EWU, UM and NAU all qualified for the postseason in 2013. North Dakota State, the three-time defending national champion, is ranked No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 2 by the Sports Network. NDSU opens the season with a 24-game winning streak. The Bison will play Weber State and Montana this season.

COACH SPEAK: NAU’s Jerome Souers and ISU’s Mike Kramer are each entering their 17th seasons as head coaches in the Big Sky. Souers ranks second all-time with 93 wins. Kramer is fourth with 83, and needs two to tie former Montana coach Don Read. Souers has won 62 conference games, just six behind all-time leader Chris Ault (Nevada). Kramer and Cal Poly coach Tim Walsh are tied for third in conference victories with 55. Ault is the all-time leader in wins with 111. Walsh begins the season tied for fifth all-time in victories with 80.



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