Plenty at stakeIf the Eagles take care care of business against Portland State, they’ll do more than clinch the program’s first outright Big Sky title since 1997. Win and they’ll likely be seeded second or third in the 24-team FCS playoffs. That would mean a first-round bye and at least two home playoff games, with a possible matchup with No. 2 Eastern Illinois in the semifinals. If Eastern loses, it will mean a sleepless night going into the bracket announcement at 8 a.m. PST on Sunday. Depending on the outcome of other games, the Eagles may or may not be one of the eight seeded teams, and certainly wouldn’t host any games beyond the round of 16 on Dec. 7. Regardless, Baldwin said, “It’s nice when you know you’re going to play more football, so it doesn’t feel like your last game.”
Baldwin, Lamb honoredBaldwin and Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb are finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, which is presented annually by The Sports Network. The two Big Sky Conference coaches were among 20 coaches named to the ballot on Tuesday. Baldwin, in his sixth season, has led Eastern Washington to a 7-0 conference record and 9-2 overall. Lamb is in his sixth season at Southern Utah, which joined the Big Sky in 2012. Southern Utah was selected ninth by the media and coaches in the preseason polls. The Thunderbirds (8-3) have tied the school record for victories in a season, and figure to earn the program’s first playoff appearance with a win on Saturday at home over No. 10 Northern Arizona.
Around the conferenceNorthern Arizona’s defense recorded its seventh touchdown of the season last Saturday when defensive back Randy Hale Jr. returned an interception 51 yards for a score in a 24-7 win over Northern Colorado. Northern Arizona has returned five interceptions for touchdowns and has two fumble-return TDs. .. Montana State QB DeNarius McGhee will play what could be the final game of his great career with the Bobcats on Saturday against arch-rival Montana. McGhee enters with 11,043 career passing yards, which ranks sixth in league history. He is 37 away from tying Montana’s Dave Dickenson for fifth in league history. … Weber State’s Tony Epperson has set Big Sky single-season records for punts (93) and punting yards (3,959). The FCS record for punts in a season is 98 by Barry Hickinbotham in 1987 for Louisiana Tech. … North Dakota’s Greg Hardin finished the season with 2,017 all-purpose yards, which ranks 12th in league history.
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