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Wednesday, June 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

PSU could outdraw ‘host’ Eagles

Even though Saturday’s “Showdown on the Sound” in Seattle is considered a home game for Eastern Washington University, the Eagles could end up feeling like outsiders at Qwest Field.

“I’m not sure what the crowd will be like,” said Eastern second-year coach Beau Baldwin, whose Eagles (5-3, 4-2 Big Sky) will take on Portland State (2-6, 1-4) at 1:05 p.m. in the 67,000-seat home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. “It’s almost like playing at a neutral site, there’s no question about that. But sometimes we play better on the road, so I’m not really concerned about that.”

Portland State coach Jerry Glanville is hoping a huge throng of Vikings fans will make the easy drive up I-5 and make his team the crowd favorite. But even if they don’t, Glanville still likes the travel setup.

“From our location, it’s a lot easier to get to,” he said. “I mean, that drive from Cheney in the middle of the night … we were lucky we made it back that last time.”

Glanville told about a near head-on collision with a car that was skidding toward the Vikings’ bus in the middle of a rainstorm.

Even if PSU ends up drawing more fans than Eastern, Baldwin remains sold on the idea of taking the game to Seattle.

“We just think it’s a great opportunity for a number of different reasons,” he said. “First off, it’s a way to get more exposure on the West Side, which has been a big part of our recruiting base. And for the player, they get a chance to play in a venue like Qwest Field. That’s stuff you’ll remember back to, and it’s exciting.”

Watch out for Vikings

If Eastern is going to take a chance on moving a home game to Seattle, it might as well make Portland State the opponent.

The Eagles haven’t had much luck against the Vikings in recent years, no matter where they’ve played.

PSU has won three straight in the series and even hung a 28-21 home loss on Eastern in 2007, when the Eagles went on to finish 8-3 in the regular season and earn an at-large berth in the FCS playoffs. The Vikings torched EWU 34-0 in Portland in 2007 and won last year’s game at PGE Park 47-36.

Hobbled Hubel

PSU junior quarterback Drew Hubel, who has missed the last two games with an injured left knee, remains questionable for Saturday’s game against EWU.

According to Glanville, the 6-foot-5 Hubel – who completed 44 of 73 passes for a school-record 623 yards and five touchdowns in last year’s win over the Eagles – continues to have swelling in the knee.

“There’s an outside chance,” Glanville said. “He’s a guy, if you ask him, he’s fine. But we won’t play him unless he can get off the training table and keep the swelling down for the day.

“We’d like him to be out there, but at this time, I don’t think anybody knows.”

Glanville said sophomore Connor Kavanaugh will start at quarterback if Hubel can’t go.

Quick kicks

Eastern Washington senior quarterback Matt Nichols has practiced all week and is planning on playing in Saturday’s game against Portland State despite a recent battle with the flu. … Nichols has asked to change his jersey number from 16 to 9 for Saturday’s game in honor of teammate Aaron Boyce, a senior wide receiver who will miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. In addition, Eastern senior linebacker Makai Borden, who normally wears No. 27, has asked to wear No. 7 in honor of classmate and fellow linebacker Kyle Wilkins, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Baldwin said the school is checking on whether the changes can be made, but added nothing had been approved as of Wednesday. … No. 14 Weber State (5-3, 5-1) and No. 2 Montana (7-0, 4-0) meet Saturday in Missoula in a showdown between the two best teams in the Big Sky. Montana has won 15 straight conference home games and hasn’t lost to Weber in Missoula since 1987.

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