The Oct. 2 matchup between Eastern Washington and Montana will likely have major implications for the Big Sky Conference championship race.
ESPN has taken notice.
Originally scheduled to air on ESPNU, the 7:30 p.m. matchup at Roos Field in Cheney will now air on ESPN2, a considerable upgrade in national exposure for the conference and two of its top programs.
Eastern, 3-0 this season and ranked sixth in this week’s STATS FCS poll, has won 18 consecutive home games, a streak that dates back to a loss on Nov. 4, 2017, to Weber State.
Montana, 2-0 and currently the highest-ranked Big Sky team at No. 4 in the STATS poll, last played in Cheney in 2016, a game Eastern won 35-16.
This will be the Eagles’ fifth game ever televised on ESPN2.
This Saturday, both football teams open their Big Sky schedules: Montana hosts Cal Poly in Missoula, while the Eagles will visit Southern Utah.
Four teams from the Big Sky, including Montana and Eastern, have defeated teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision this season. Northern Arizona became the latest with a 21-19 victory over Arizona on Saturday.
In June, the Big Sky and ESPN announced a deal for the network to televise hundreds of the conference’s events on ESPN-plus and to put two games on ESPNU. The second such game will be Montana State’s contest at Weber State on Oct. 15.
Barriere swoops up weekly honor
Eastern quarterback Eric Barriere secured his second Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week honor on Monday, two days after a record-breaking performance in a 62-56 victory over Western Illinois.
Barriere, a senior, threw for 487 yards before halftime, more than any FCS quarterback has ever thrown for in a half. He finished with 542 yards, a career-high and the second-most ever by an Eastern Washington quarterback. Gage Gubrud passed for 549 yards in that Eastern victory over Montana in 2016.
Barriere is also now second all-time in EWU history in career passing attempts (1,186) and is third in completions (726). His 87 touchdowns tie him with Gubrud for third all-time among Eastern quarterbacks. Vernon Adams ranks first with 110; Matt Nichols is second with 96.
Now 23-9 as a starter, Barriere has produced 37 plays of 40 or more yards in his career.
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