WESTERN OREGON AT EASTERN WASHINGTON
KICKOFF: 4 p.m. at Roos Field in Cheney.
RECORDS: EWU 1-0; Western Oregon 0-0
OVERVIEW: History begs the Eagles to remember 2010, the FCS championship season that included a three-point win over Central Washington. Four years earlier, Montana State knocked off Colorado, then lost at home to Division II Chadron State. If that doesn’t get their attention, it will be Western Oregon’s mammoth defensive line that includes at tackle 305-pound Gustave Benthin, who shared the GNAC Defensive Lineman of the Year award in 2012. Next to Benthin is 330-pound Sipili Tuigamala. The ends weigh in at 270 and 265, making the Wolves’ D-line bigger than Oregon State’s. The Eagles should see an aggressive pass rush try to contain QB Vernon Adams. The Eagles defense probably feels it has something to prove after giving up 527 yards last week. It goes up against the two-headed quarterback of Ryan Bergman and Trey Shimabukuro, both juniors. The Wolves also return All-GNAC receiver Tyrell Williams (39 catches, 658 yards last year), but run a traditional set with two running backs. “We’re going to get their best,” said Eastern coach Beau Baldwin, who added that the line between FCS and Division II talent is very fine. And he should know. He played quarterback and coached at CWU. Western leads the all-time series 9-6 with one tie, but Eastern has won the last four games, including a 35-14 victory in Cheney in 2009. Provided the Eagles stay focused all week, this game should be every bit as lopsided.
IDAHO AT WYOMING
KICKOFF: 1 p.m. PDT at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo.
RECORDS: Idaho 0-1; Wyoming 0-1
TV/RADIO: Root Sports/1080-AM
OVERVIEW: Idaho coach Paul Petrino doesn’t usually tip his hand when it comes to personnel or schemes. But without prompting this week, he laid out the key components of the Vandals’ game plan against Wyoming: “I think we’ve got to run the ball against them and we’ve got to stop their quarterback,” he said. “That’s not a big secret.” The Cowboys’ quarterback, junior Brett Smith, passed for 383 yards and ran for 92 more last week at Nebraska. And last year, Smith torched Idaho for five touchdown passes, including the game-winner in overtime, at the Kibbie Dome. After the UI secondary was repeatedly out of position last week at North Texas, Petrino put the onus on the front seven to make Smith uncomfortable. The Vandals will also need to get more from their stable of running backs, led by Jerrel Brown and Richard Montgomery. Idaho tailbacks combined for just 16 carries in the season opener – the same as QB Chad Chalich, who was often chased from the pocket. Wyoming gave up 375 yards rushing to Nebraska in its opener.
KICKOFF: 1:30 p.m. at the Pine Bowl.
RECORDS: Whitworth 0-0; St. Scholastica 0-0
OVERVIEW: The Saints from Duluth, Minn., visit Whitworth at the Pine Bowl in the season opener for both teams. The Pirates have more experience returning on defense (nine starters), but its offense is led by three-year starter Bryan Peterson. Coach John Tully is hoping for a repeat of 2012 when his Pirates won the first four nonconference games against the same slate of teams it faces in 2013. The Saints finished 8-3 last year and are seeking to reach the playoffs for the third straight season after receiving the automatic bid in 2012 for the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. The Saints are led by returning starter Tyler Harper at QB and have all-conference players in wide receiver Cory Gebhard, center Pete Stanely, defensive end Blake Cedarleaf, safety Alec French and cornerback Mike LaValley.