Believe it or not, if you slip on those rose-colored glasses, drink from a half-full glass and send Joe Btfsplk home, all is not lost.
There is reason for hope when assessing the immediate future of the Eastern Washington football team.
Sure there is a rain cloud hovering over their heads, like Joe Btfsplk in the old Lil’ Abner comics, after the Eagles laid an egg in front of the second-largest crowd in Woodward Field history, losing to Weber State 28-23.
Eastern started the season as a highly-regarded team, one that would be 7-0 at this point, or at least 6-1. Inexperience on both lines and a slew of injuries has contributed to a disappointing 4-3 record.
It may sound incredulous, but the Eagles can make the I-AA playoffs, maybe even win the Big Sky Conference.
Winning out almost assures that.
There are two ways of looking at the 8-3 record, which would include a 6-2 conference mark.
First, 8-3 is usually enough to get into the playoffs and the wins would include ranked teams Portland State, Montana, Cal Poly and Montana State plus a UC Davis team that upended Stanford.
At worst they would be tied for second in the highest-ranked league.
Of course the games remaining include Cal Poly, MSU and Davis after this week’s trip to Sacramento State. Those aren’t gimmes.
Second, they could be Big Sky champs with just a little help. (Which means they could, if they want to continue to live dangerously, lose the Cal Poly and Davis non-leaguers.)
The Eagles are now 3-2, but of the teams with one loss, Eastern has beaten Portland State and Montana and plays MSU at home. A win over the Bobcats takes care of the first problem. Montana and Portland State play this weekend, which takes care of a second problem. PSU has two difficult games after that, at Idaho State and Weber State. UM finishes at MSU.
Have UM beat PSU and MSU beat UM and the Eags are back in business.
Of course there is that matter of Weber State and Idaho State, both of which beat the Eagles, but both with two losses. One is eliminated this weekend since they play each other. Both still have to play Portland State, so the survivor has to lose that game.
At the moment, since PSU beat MSU, the Vikings and Grizzlies are in the driver’s seat. If PSU handles that like Eastern did, UM and MSU control their fate.
In the wake of the Weber debacle it may be difficult to imagine this team running the table but there is nothing wrong with thinking positive.
Fill up the glass, put on the shades and send Joe Btfsplk home.
EWU is a perfect 7 for 7 in a category the Eagles never dreamed up.
Through seven games, EWU has lost at least one player – the total is 14 – with an injury serious enough that games are missed. And that doesn’t include backup center Randy Meade, who had a good game at Montana after Kraig Sigler went down. Meade was hurt in practice last week and guard Chris Carlsen shifted to center.
Second tight end Tom McAndrews is the latest casualty. He went down without contact, his season apparently over with a knee injury.
Only three of the injured players are back, though a couple more could see action this week. Just one player, so far, has missed only one game.
Eastern dropped from sixth to 14th in the latest poll and to 20th in the power index … The Eagles still lead the nation in total offense, but fell to second in passing offense. QB Erik Meyer also dropped to second in total offense. WR Erik Kimble is third nationally in receiving at 118.1 yards a game. LB Joey Cwik needs one tackle to move into fifth on the school career list with 228.
Big Sky conference commissioner Doug Fullerton has publicly reprimanded and suspended Montana defensive end Kroy Biermann after he was ejected for fighting in last Saturday’s win over Cal Poly.
Biermann will be suspended for the first half of Saturday’s game against Portland State.
Seven of the past nine I-AA teams that won at Washington-Grizzly Stadium lost their next game … The Big Sky has had co- or tri-champions the past three seasons … PSU’s Joe Rubin once again leads the nation in rushing at 159.1 yards a game … UM’s win over Cal Poly gave the Sky a 7-4 record against the Great West Conference … PSU QB Sawyer Smith is 33 for 46 for 496 yards and seven TDs and no picks in the last two games. In the first six he had four TDs and eight interceptions … PSU has not won in Missoula since 1987 as a D-II team … The Grizzlies are playing their fourth-straight ranked team … NAU was shut out by PSU for the first time since EWU did the trick in 1985, 227 games ago … Lumberjacks freshman kicker Robbie Dehaze missed his first kick, a 58-yarder on the final play of the game … Idaho State won for the first time at Sacramento State and has not won back-to-back conference road games since 1984 … ISU has lost nine straight and 13 of 14 at Weber … WSU leads in sacks with 24, ISU has allowed 12 … Eastern is 7-0 at Hornet Stadium.
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