9. Cal Poly

Forecast: 9th by Big Sky media, 9th by coaches

Preseason ranking: none

Last season: 4-7 overall, 3-5 Big Sky (tied 8th)

Starters returning: 14 (7 offense, 7 defense)

Coach: Tim Walsh (UC Riverside, '77), 43-37 in 8th year at Cal Poly, 120-129 for career

Bottom Line

Cal Poly plays a bear of a schedule, opening with two FBS schools before visiting FCS power South Dakota State. Conference play isn't any easier with road games against North Dakota, Portland State and Weber State mashed around hosting duties with Montana and Eastern Washington. Cal Poly and its triple-option attack should be improved over 2015, but its record might not show it. Prediction: 9th.


The option is Poly's bread and butter and although the sharpest knife is gone, QB Chris Brown, there's a whole drawer full of tools left to make this thing work. Senior Dano Graves takes over at QB with some starting experience and backs Kori Garcia and Joe Protheroe, who combined for 1,800 rushing yards in 2015, also return. 


Cal Poly is transitioning to a 3-4 formation this fall and has a wealth of D-line experience. Three players started all 11 games there last year -- DE Kelly Shepard, DT Marcus Paige-Allen and DT Augustino Elisaia -- but the rest of the defense will be younger. LB Joe Gigantino is the exception, a senior who notched 75 tackles in 2015.

Notable: Cal Poly led the FCS in rushing in each of the past three seasons, including an average of 387.3 yards per game last season. That's impressive but remains far short of the NCAA record set by Oklahoma (472.4) in 1971.

Quotable: "If we're rushing the ball for 390 yards per game, we should be winning a lot more than four games." — Coach Tim Walsh