There's no place on Earth quite like San Luis Obispo, California.
While driving to the stadium that Cal Poly's football team calls home, you'll see orange and lemon trees. The flowers, the palm trees, the immaculate lawns ... if it didn't cost four times as much to live there as it does most anywhere else in the country, it would be close to perfect.
There are, however, peculiarities.
I find it interesting the Mustangs are coached by Tim Walsh, a guy with a buzz cut who came over from the United States Military Academy and loves the triple option offense. It just doesn't seem to fit with the laid-back Cali groove -- like Bobby Hauck implementing the run-and-shoot at cold-weather Montana or Jerry Glanville going wishbone at Portland State.
Then there's this weird occurrence I witnessed while visiting Cal Poly two years ago to cover a football game against the Grizzlies (Montana lost that one).
You figure Cali is the place where they start trends, not finish them. You know -- Levi's, hippies, skateboarding, love-ins, the Beach Boys, The Doors, Hollywood.
So it came as a surprise to this old Iowa boy when he saw Cal Poly's coaches and players doing the ice bucket challenge during a Friday afternoon practice in October of 2014. Why? Because the ice bucket challenge had been played to death by then.
Oh well, better late than never.
Say what you will about Cal Poly's run-happy triple option offense, it sure has given Montana fits in recent years. Fortunately the Griz have had two weeks to prepare for it.
That's one big reason I'm picking Montana to push its record to 3-0 with a narrow win over the Mustangs.
NO. 6 MONTANA AT CAL POLY: Both teams are coming off major wins over Missouri Valley Football Conference foes on the road. The Mustangs beat a top-10 team in South Dakota State while the Griz notched their own top-10 victory against Northern Iowa. The difference is the Grizzlies' came two weeks ago and UM is now fresh with a bye. AJ: Griz 30, 'Stangs 17. Bob: Montana 42, Cal Poly 10. Greg: Montana 30, Cal Poly 24. Kyle: Montana 31, Cal Poly 17. Bill: Montana 28, Cal Poly 24.
NORTH DAKOTA AT MONTANA STATE: The Bobcats defense has been vastly improved so far this season. Of course their two wins have come against rather lackluster competition. North Dakota will be a little bigger test. AJ: NoDak 20, Cats 17. Bob: Montana State 27, North Dakota 24. Greg: North Dakota 27, Montana State 21. Kyle: North Dakota 31, Montana State 14. Bill: Montana State 27, North Dakota 20.
SACRAMENTO STATE AT IDAHO STATE: Neither of these teams has impressed so far in 2016, but Sacramento State is shaping up to be among the worst teams in the country having already lost to Division II Western Oregon. The Bengals will get a rare win here. AJ: Bengals 34, Sac State 7. Bob: Idaho State 44, Sac State 43. Greg: Idaho State 38, Sacramento State 27. Kyle: Idaho State 42, Sac State 39. Bill: Idaho State 19, Sac State 14.
NO. 4 EASTERN WASHINGTON AT NORTHERN ARIZONA: Talk about a high-flying matchup. These two are both among the top five passing offenses in the nation, the Lumberjacks checking in at No. 5 with 321.7 yards per game with the Eagles leading everybody at 428.7. Too bad this game couldn't be offense vs. offense. AJ: Eags 55, Jacks 52. Bob: NAU 45, Eastern Washington 44, 2OT. Greg: Northern Arizona 41, Eastern Washington 38. Kyle: Eastern 31, NAU 28. Bill: Eastern Washington 34, NAU 31.
WEBER STATE AT UC DAVIS: We hear it's nice in California this time of year. Well at least when the UC Davis fans are exiting the stadium after another loss then can be consoled by a little sunshine. AJ: Weber 23, UC Dave 10. Bob: UC Davis 10, Weber State 7. Greg: Weber State 28, UC Davis 20. Kyle: Weber State 23, UC Davis 16. Bill: Weber State 21, UC Davis 20.
NO. 25 PORTLAND STATE AT SOUTHERN UTAH: A year ago this was among the most intriguing matchup in the Big Sky, the Vikings edging the Thunderbirds in a battle of upstarts. This year it's still pretty intriguing. Both need a solid win to keep themselves in the talk for another run at this year's crown. Our pickers appear split on who will get it. AJ: T-birds 28, Portlanders 27. Bob: Portland State 33, SUU 24. Greg: Portland State 35, Southern Utah 24. Kyle: Southern Utah 17, Portland State 14. Bill: SUU 35, Portland State 34.