Big Sky football notebook

Following is a look back and a peek ahead at football in the Big Sky Conference by Jon Kasper, assistant commissioner of the conference.

This Week’s Sky Highlights

Week two’s 11-game schedule is highlighted by a matchup of FCS powerhouses. No. 12 Montana travels to Boone, N.C., to face No. 11 Appalachian State. It will be the program’s first meeting since an epic 2009 semifinal in Missoula, Mont. The Grizzlies are 2-0 all-time against Appalachian State, but this will be the first meeting between the two in Boone…For the second time in three seasons, No. 4 Montana State takes on Drake of the Pioneer League. …Six of this week’s games feature Big Sky teams battling FBS teams, including three matchups against the Pac-12. No. 9 Eastern Washington travels to Washington State. It’s the first matchup between the teams since 1908…Southern Utah treks to Cal, the Thunderbirds’ first game against a Pac-12 opponent… Sacramento State battles Colorado. The Hornets are seeking a win over a Pac-12 team for the second straight season…Weber State heads south to Provo to face Brigham Young…UC Davis travels to San Jose State of the WAC…Northern Arizona takes on UNLV…Idaho State will play its home opener against Black Hills State….North Dakota is home for the second straight week, facing Portland State in a non-conference game. ..Northern Colorado plays its home opener against Colorado Mesa.

This Week’s Sky Schedule

Saturday, Sept. 8
No. 9 E. Washington (1-0) at Washington St. (0-1), 12:05 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Network
Southern Utah (0-1) at Cal (0-1), 12:05 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Network
Sacramento State (0-1) at Colorado (0-1), 1:05 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Network
Weber State (0-1) at Brigham Young (1-0), 1:05 p.m. TV: BYU-TV
*Colorado Mesa (0-1) at Northern Colorado (0-1), 1:35 p.m.TV: Altitude
*Black Hills State (0-0) at Idaho State (0-1), 4:05 p.m.
UC Davis (1-0) at San Jose State (0-1), 5:05 p.m.
No. 4 Montana State (1-0) at Drake (1-0), 6:05 p.m.
*Portland State (1-0) at North Dakota (1-0) (NC), 6:05 p.m. TV: MidCo Sports Network/Comcast Sports Net NW
No. 12 Montana (1-0) at No. 11 Appalachian State (0-1), 6:35 p.m. TV: ESPN3/ESPN Gameplan
Northern Arizona (0-1) at UNLV (0-1), 7:35 p.m.
*Game available on the Internet at
Times Local to Site/Subject to Change

Around the Big Sky

BEATING THE BIG BOYS: Eastern Washington was one of four FCS teams to earn a win over an FBS team on the opening weekend. Eastern Washington handled Idaho of the WAC 20-3 in Moscow, Idaho, last Thursday night. The win snapped the Eagles’ 10-game losing streak to FBS teams. EWU’s last win over an FBS team came against Idaho in 2003, an 8-5 win. Eastern Washington is now 8-20 all-time against FBS teams. In the game, EWU’s defense held Idaho to 10 first downs, 73 rushing yards, and 237 yards of total offense. Kyle Padron, making his first start under center for the Eagles, completed 13-of-33 passes for 260 yards with one touchdown and one interception. McNeese State, Youngstown State and Tennessee-Martin also earned wins over FBS teams. McNeese State beat Middle Tennessee State of the Sun Belt 27-21, Tennessee-Martin beat Memphis of Conference USA 20-17, while Youngstown State beat Pitt of the Big East 31-17. Since 2006, Big Sky teams have won four games against FBS teams. In 2006, Montana State beat Colorado, and Portland State beat New Mexico. Last season, Sacramento State beat Oregon State of the Pac-12. Big Sky teams have more than held their own against Idaho since 2000, winning six of nine games. Montana has won four straight over the Vandals, with the last meeting coming in 2003. Big Sky teams went 1-6 against FBS teams on the opening weekend. Conference USA won just one game against FBS teams on the opening weekend, as did the Sun Belt.

CONFERENCE, NON-CONFERENCE: Big Sky Conference teams Portland State and North Dakota will meet on Saturday in Grand Forks. The matchup will be a non-conference game. It is one of three matchups of Big Sky teams that will be played as non-conference games this season. On Sept. 15, Northern Colorado plays Sacramento State in a non-conference game. On Saturday, Nov. 3, Cal Poly takes on Eastern Washington in a non-conference game. Because all but one FCS team in the Western United States (The University of San Diego) is in the Big Sky, the league is allowing teams to schedule each other in non-conference games.

SUCCESSFUL DEBUTS: Three of the Big Sky’s four new football teams won on the opening weekend. North Dakota beat South Dakota Mines 66-0 in Grand Forks. North Dakota amassed a school-record 653 yards of total offense. Jake Miller rushed for 178 yards on 12 carries. Cal Poly cruised to a 41-14 win over San Diego. Mustangs’ quarterback Andre Broadous accounted for four touchdowns. UC Davis took care of Azusa Pacific 41-3. Southern Utah was the only new squad to play an FBS team. The Thunderbirds fell at Utah State 34-3. It was also a successful debut for new Montana coach Mick Delaney. The Grizzlies beat South Dakota of the Missouri Valley Conference 35-24. Redshirt freshman QB Trent McKinney, playing his first collegiate game, completed 26-of-32 passes for 148 yards with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 65 yards. UM’s Dan Moore rushed for 148 yards, while Peter Nguyen rushed for 102. Montana set a single-game school record with 34 first downs. Portland State true freshman quarterback Kieran McDonagh also played well in his debut, leading the Vikings to a 38-20 win over NAIA power Carroll College. McDonagh completed 8-of-16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back D.J. Adams, a transfer from Maryland, rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns in his first game for the Vikings.

IN THE POLLS: Eastern Washington’s win over Idaho helped the Eagles in this week’s FCS polls. Eastern Washington jumped from 12th to 9th in the Sports Network Poll. The Eagles jumped four spots in the Coaches’ poll to 11th. Montana State, a 33-6 win over Division II Chadron State, remained fourth in both polls. Montana jumped one spot in the Coaches’ Poll to ninth. The Grizzlies fell one spot to 12th in the Sports Network Poll. North Dakota State remained first in the Coaches’ Poll, followed by Sam Houston State and Georgia Southern. Sam Houston State, which was idle, remained first in the Sports Network Poll. NDSU is second, followed by Georgia Southern. North Dakota (11), Cal Poly (7) and Portland State (7) received votes in the Coaches’ Poll. Cal Poly (84), Northern Arizona (43), North Dakota (43), Portland State (34) Idaho State (7), Southern Utah (7) and UC Davis (1) received votes in the Sports Network Poll. The updated Sagarin Ratings won’t be available until Tuesday.

KRAMER CAN TIE: Idaho State coach Mike Kramer has been stuck on 79 career victories, but that should change on Saturday when the Bengals play host to Black Hills State. Kramer can move into a tie for third place on the Big Sky’s all-time win list. Chris Ault, who is still the coach at Nevada, is first on the list with 11 wins. Montana’s Don Read is second with 85. Montana’s Bobby Hauck, who is now at UNLV, is currently in third place with 80. Northern Arizona’s Jerome Souers is fifth on the list with 76 wins. Cal Poly’s Tim Walsh picked up his 66th win in the Big Sky last week. Walsh sits in sixth place. Kramer is in his 15th season as a head coach in the Big Sky. He previously coached Eastern Washington (1994-1999), and Montana State (2000-06). Idaho State is looking to snap a nine-game losing streak that dates back to a 50-20 win over Northern Colorado on Sept. 17, 2011.

IS THAT THE SAME PLAYER?: Cal Poly senior running back Deonte Williams rushed for 109 yards and caught a touchdown pass in the Mustangs’ win over San Diego. Williams was last seen in the Big Sky Conference in 2008, earning the Newcomer of the Year Award. As a true freshman at Northern Arizona in 2008, Williams rushed for 950 yards and 12 touchdowns. He had four 100-yard rushing games, his last coming on Nov. 1, 2008 against Montana with 105 yards. Williams left NAU after one season. He played one season at Sierra College, before transferring to Cal Poly. He sat out as a redshirt in 2010, and rushed for 385 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Extra points: Northern Colorado is primed to snap a 12-game losing streak on Saturday when it plays host to Colorado Mesa. The Bears are 6-0 all-time against Mesa…EWU All-American WR Brandon Kaufman returned from an injury that cost him most of the 2011 season. Kaufman recorded his ninth 100-yard receiving game with five catches for a game-high 148 yards against Idaho…Idaho State QB Kevin Yost recorded his fourth career 300-yard passing game last week against Air Force. Yost completed 41-of-52 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. Derek Graves caught 15 passes for 118 yards in the loss…Weber State’s Mike Hoke completed 25-of-32 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Fresno State…MSU QB DeNarius McGhee tied a career-high with four touchdown passes in a win over Chadron State…Seven of this week’s 11 games will be televised. Games from Idaho State, Northern Colorado and North Dakota can be viewed for free on Big Sky TV…Big Sky TV is now available on iOS and Android devices.