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Sports >  EWU football

Big Sky Picks: After lopsided losses, Eastern Washington and Idaho have much easier tasks in Week 2

Eastern Washington beat writer Ryan Collingwood predicts Week 2 games in the Big Sky Conference. He went 9-1 last week.

Western State (0-0) at Idaho State (0-0) on Thursday: ISU was a win or two away from securing a long-awaited playoff berth last season, but record-breaking quarterback Tanner Gueller has since graduated, leaving former Coeur d’Alene star Gunnar Amos and junior college transfer Matt Struck apparently still competing for the No. 1 job. We won’t know much about the Bengals after they handle this NCAA Division II team, which has three games over the last two seasons. ISU 52, WSU 14

Sacramento State (1-0) at Arizona State (1-0) on Friday: As Utah’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons, new Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor, a former EWU assistant, averaged 34.5 points against Pac-12 South foe Arizona State. He and the Hornets will put up about half that total in Tempe. ASU 49, Sac. State 17

Lindenwood (0-0) at No. 4 Eastern Washington (0-1): The NCAA Division II Lions, who haven’t had a winning season since 2012, were picked second in its conference preseason poll by virtue of returning eight starters on both sides of the ball, including All-American tight end Erik Henneman. Still, this group isn’t nearly as loaded as the ninth-ranked NCAA Division II Central Washington team that came to Cheney last year and got handled 58-13, and that EWU team wasn’t looking to take its frustration out an anyone (EWU fell 47-14 at Washington last week). This game gives EWU an opportunity to clean up the drops and special teams issues that compounded its lopsided loss, and stay healthy for its big nonconference game the following week at 18th-ranked Jacksonville State. EWU 62, Lindenwood 14

Simon Fraser (0-0) at Portland State (0-1): Perhaps the up-and-down Vikings are decent again after forcing Arkansas to sweat out a 20-13 last week in Fayetteville. NCAA Division II Simon Fraser has won just one game over the last four seasons. Ouch. Portland State 48, Simon Fraser 7

Northern Colorado (0-1) at Washington State (1-0): The Cougars embarrassed New Mexico State 58-7 last week, and the Aggies are a smidge better than Northern Colorado, which is coming off a loss to a bad FBS program (San Jose State). Expect WSU backup quarterback Gage Gubrud, the former EWU star, to add to his lofty touchdown total against Big Sky teams in the second half of this rout. WSU 55, Northern Colorado 10

Southern Utah (0-1) at No. 11 Northern Iowa (0-1): FCS postseason regular UNI was a hair away from upsetting No. 21 Iowa State in Des Moines last week, falling 29-26 in triple overtime. That doesn’t bode well for a SUU team that got handled 56-23 by a FBS UNLV program that has had one winning season since 2001. UNI 38, SUU 17

No. 5 UC Davis (0-1) at San Diego (0-1): For all of a half, UC Davis quarterback Jake Maier and the Aggies moved the football against on of the Pac-12’s best defenses (California), jumping out to a 13-0 lead before the Bears flipped the switch (a 27-13 win). If Cal Poly had its way with USD, imagine what the high-powered Aggies will do. UC Davis 44, San Diego 20.

Cal Poly (1-0) at No. 7 Weber State (0-1): Poly ran all over Frontier League power San Diego last week, but Weber State is a completely different animal that rarely allows such things. The Wildcats didn’t let a solid Mountain West program, San Diego State, score a touchdown on its home field last week in a 6-0 loss to the Aztecs. One of –or the perhaps the best – defense in the country should have little trouble in the first game of the season featuring two Big Sky members. Weber State 31, Cal Poly 7

No. 12 Southeast Missouri State (1-0) at No. 13 Montana State (0-1): A great nonconference matchup in Bozeman between ranked teams. Fourth-year MSU coach Jeff Choate’s squad can show how much it’s built off last year’s playoff appearance and prove its national legitimacy with a win over SEMO, which features menacing linebacker Zach Hall, the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award winner. MSU 24, SEMO 21

Central Washington (0-0) at Idaho (0-1): After getting absolutely annihilated (79-7) last week at Penn State, the Vandals get to play the role of big-school foe against the Division II Wildcats, often a force in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. But former CWU head coach Ian Shoemaker is now the offensive coordinator at EWU and record-setting quarterback Reilly Hennessey (a former part-time starter at EWU) has exhausted his eligibility. The Wildcats didn’t crack the preseason DII top 25 poll, but did load up on a few Big Sky transfers who, physically, can match up with the Vandals. Idaho already has a game under its belt, though, should be a more cohesive unit than new-look CWU Idaho 38, CWU 21

North Alabama (1-0) at No. 22 Montana (1-0): North Alabama, a second-year FCS independent formerly of the Division II ranks, has opened the last two seasons with wins over FCS teams, clipping Southern Utah 34-30 on the road last year and Western Illinois 26-17 last week. It’s a capable club. But Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed passed for a career-high 430 yards in a 31-17 road win over a decent South Dakoa team last week, and Buck Buchanan Award finalist Dante Olsen is terrorizing offenses again. Don’t expect an upset at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Montana 42, North Alabama 21

Northern Arizona (1-0) at Arizona (0-1): After faceplanting at Hawaii last week, Arizona and one-time Heisman hopeful Khalil Tate are champing at the bit to beat the shoes off of someone. An improved Northern Arizona team will be thrown into that fire in Tucson, where the Wildcats smacked the Lumberjacks 62-24 two years ago. Arizona 50, NAU 14

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