Published on October 5th, 2017 | by Bear Tycoon
Griz get SportsCenter Shout Out
The Cats dropped their homecoming game to Weber State 25-17 last week. Last year, Cat fans would have been thrilled the team hung around with a top-tier Big Sky team. This year, however, expectations are higher, and Cat fans know the team blew it with dumb mistakes. This week, the Cats welcome the Portland State Vikings.
The Griz took care of business on the road (playing in a high school stadium) against Portland State 45-33. It was a good win for the Griz, but the Vikings are one of two winless teams in the Big Sky, so let’s not get too excited. The Griz head to Pocawhatever , ID for a game against Idaho State. The Griz put up 62 on the Bengals last year. In 2015, the Griz won on the craziest ending we’ve ever seen (and got us our first shout out on Deadspin).
On this week’s Montana Mint Sports Podcast (the greatest pod in Montana history), we grade all 13 teams in the Big Sky Conference. The Montana Mint Sports Podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play.
This Week’s Predictions
Montana State vs. Portland State
The line from Vegas: Cats -11.5 (!!!!)
CompughterRatings.com simulated score:
Portland State: 15
Montana @ Idaho State
The line from Vegas: Griz -7.5
CompughterRatings.com simulated score:
Idaho State: 32
Justin Strong on Sports Center. SportsCenter gave a shout out to Griz Safety Justin Strong, and deservedly so. Strong had three interceptions in the win at Portland State, including one returned for a TD. He also intercepted a two-point conversion attempt. And he did it with one arm in a cast! That is a career game and it earned Strong the national FCS Defensive Player of the Week.
Cats vs. Vikings. Portland State comes to Bozeman on Saturday for their early morning tilt with the Bobcats and if you’ve looked at both teams’ season statistics you may be thinking we’re in for a defensive battle. Both the Vikings and the Bobcats have played 4 games coming into Saturday and both teams rank near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference in total offense with MSU averaging 378 yards per game and PSU going for 410 yards per game. On the flip side, Montana State is the #3 ranked team in total defense in the Big Sky and Portland State is ranked #6. This is going to be a low scoring affair, right? Not so fast.
Montana State opened the season at FBS Washington State and Portland State played their first two games against FBS opponents BYU and Oregon State. If we remove FBS games from the statistics and only look at offense against FCS opponents, the numbers tell a different story for both teams.
MSU is averaging 456 total yards per game against their 3 FCS opponents and Portland State bumps up to 504 total yards per game against their 2 FCS opponents. The yards per game averages for both teams would put them near the top of the Big Sky in total offense. We may be in for some offensive fireworks on Saturday even if at first glance it might not look that way! (via Hot Take Nate)
BASKETBALL. Mint Sports does more than just football…we also track Great Falls’ Josh Huestis of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Huestis had a solid line in a preseason loss to the Rockets with 5 points and 7 rebounds in 15 minutes. He also had a monster block on James Harden (video).
Cats Unis. MSU revealed their uniforms for this weekend. They are FIRE.
Reese Phillips Update. After suffering a gruesome leg injury in September, Griz QB Reese Phillips is making progress with his recovery. He tweeted out a pic of his stitched up leg and said that he plans to watch the rest of the Griz games from the sideline (though his mobility is limited to golf cart, wheelchair, or crutches). Reese’s role on the team has also officially changed from QB to “undergraduate student coach.”
Reese Strong. To honor their injured QB, the Griz have started running out the tunnel with a #11 flag (video). The flag was made by Phillips’ brother Brock Sparks (good name) and is carried by WR Keenan Curran.
Bubble Trouble. STATS FCS released its first playoff projections for the year, and bad news for Montana fans everywhere. Both the Griz and Cats are not currently projected to be in the playoffs, and neither is listed as a bubble team for the 24-team field.
Power Rankings. The excellent website theFCSwedge.com put out a power rankings for the Big Sky. Notably, preseason favorite North Dakota is 1-4 and ranked #9. Sad! Here’s the whole list:
- Eastern Washington
- Weber State
- Idaho State
- Northern Arizona
- Montana State
- Northern Colorado
- North Dakota
- Southern Utah
- Sacramento State
- Portland State
- Cal Poly
Offensive Explosion. Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State put up some major numbers in the 52-31 Eagle win. The two teams combined for 1,200 yards. EWU’s QB Gage Gubrud went for 486 yards and 6 TDs, earning him his third consecutive ROOT Sports Player of the Week.