EAGLES UPDATED 11:45
OK, we've covered most everything else, so it's time to get to the game at hand.
Desperate is the only word that can describe these two teams. Montana State is 1-2, with its only win one of the most celebrated upsets of the year in the season opener at Colorado.
The Eagles, who expected to be 0-2 after opening on the road against two better Division 1-A teams, is an unexpected 0-3 after losing to Central Washington at home last Saturday.
But EWU coach Paul Wulff professes today that winning isn't the only thing - it's not even important. The most crucial thing for the Eagles is that they play better.
If that happens, Wullf will believe EWU is on its way to a better season.
But no matter what the Eastern football coach told Dave Trimmer, the Eagles are desperate to win for their own piece of mind, if nothing else. If they do, it will be their fourth consecutive win over the Bobcats.
Can they? According to stories over here under the snow-dusted mountain peaks, the Bobcats are even more desperate to win. In yesterday's Bozeman paper, there was a picture of first-year MSU defensive coordinator Rob Christoff with a description that basically said: He still had a job. The unwritten message: His job is in jeopardy after the Cats' 45-0 loss to UC Davis last weekend. And, if the Eagles score a bunch, will the cutline have to change?
The big news on the field are the changes both teams are making in their starting lineups. The Eagles may have as many as five new starters (of 22) on offense and defense, while the Bobcats may also shuffle some spots.
And not all those changes are due to injuries. Some will probably be players who have started a lot and aren't producing. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Want more? Check out Dave's blog.
UPDATE: With about 20 minutes to game time, let's look at the key to this one.
As is the case in most football games, the most important people on the field will be the offensive line. It all starts there, especially for the Eagles.
EWU came into this season with a veteran group that was expected to be the cornerstone of the team. They were expected to keep the new starting quarterback safe as he matured. They were expected to open holes for the running game.
Neither of those things have happened - in all three games, not just in the two against Division 1-A opponents.
The Eagles' quarterbacks have been sacked eight times. Their combined completion percentage is 48 percent, indicative of quarterbacks under pressure.
The running game? Almost non-existent. The Eags are averaging 2.1 yards a carry, though a big part of that is the 65 yards the quarterbacks have lost when sacked. But still, 274 yards rushing in three games won't get it done.
So the O-line has to play better today for EWU to win. That's what we're going to be watching in the opening quarter, and let you know at the end of the first quarter. Stay tuned.