BOZEMAN — Seven Big Sky Conference football teams took their shot against the bigger and better-resourced FBS last week, and each, perhaps as expected, got swallowed up in a losing effort.
But it wasn’t all bad.
Weber State was shut out at San Diego State on Saturday but only lost by a 6-0 score. The Wildcats might have been in position to win had Rashid Shaheed’s kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter not been nullified by a holding call.
WSU’s defense held the Aztecs to just 238 yards and 14 first downs, but the Wildcats couldn’t get much established when they had the ball, either.
UC Davis also hung tough against Cal in a 27-13 defeat. Portland State came close against Arkansas of the powerful SEC before succumbing 20-13.
On the other end of the spectrum, Idaho was the victim of a 79-7 drubbing at Penn State, the No. 15-ranked team in the Associated Press’ preseason Top 25 poll. Nine different ball-carriers rushed for 331 yards and seven touchdowns for the Nittany Lions.
(The Vandals athletic department, however, walked away with $1.45 million in guaranteed money just for making the trip east. Idaho was paid $1.2 million after a 63-10 defeat at Florida last season, according to USA Today.)
Meanwhile, Northern Colorado was felled by San Jose State 35-18, Montana State got hit 45-10 at Texas Tech, and Eastern Washington lost 47-14 at Washington.
There were some outliers (the Idaho and Weber State outcomes being the most obvious) but the average score in those seven games was FBS 37, Big Sky 10.
Three Big Sky Conference teams will square off against the Pac-12 this week, as Sacramento State travels to Arizona State, Northern Arizona visits Arizona and Northern Colorado — in its second FBS matchup to start the year — heads to Washington State.
In his first collegiate game, Cal Poly quarterback Jalen Hamler rolled up 317 yards of total offense and was responsible for five touchdowns in the Mustangs’ 52-34 Week 1 victory over San Diego.
Hamler, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound redshirt freshman from Lawndale High School in southern California (the same school that produced former Montana State quarterback Chris Murray), rushed for 96 yards and a pair of scores, and threw for 221 yards and three TDs. Three of his first six passes went for touchdowns.
On Monday, Hamler was named Big Sky offensive player of the week. He was also named Big Sky player of the week by College Sports Madness, and was an honorable mention choice for the STATS national freshman player of the week award.
Hamler and Cal Poly face a test this week at Weber State, but it's a game that won’t count toward the conference standings for either team.
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It took Montana State linebacker Callahan O’Reilly several minutes to recover from an illegal crackback block early in Saturday’s game at Texas Tech. Red Raiders linebacker Jordyn Brooks was flagged for a personal foul on the play.
Bobcats coach Jeff Choate said he was concerned for O’Reilly at the time, though the Bozeman High product eventually left the field on his own power and later returned. Choate was also concerned about the nature of the penalty.
“There was a time in football where that was the standard. The bottom line is that cannot be a part of our game anymore,” Choate said. “That’s on us as coaches. There’s other techniques that we can teach, and they’re standard in this industry now.
“It wasn’t just one. There were two on that same play. And to me, when it shows up like that, that’s not an accident. And that’s why I was upset.”
Next step for Roos Field
Eastern Washington may be moving forward with plans to further renovate its football stadium.
A task force that has been studying a potential facility upgrade is expected to make its recommendations to EWU’s board of trustees on Friday, according to a university announcement. Renderings of the plan are also expected to be released.
The stadium underwent its most recent and most visible alteration in 2010 when red turf as installed. A large donation from EWU alum and NFL lineman Michael Roos helped make it possible, and the venue was renamed Roos Field.
Montana (1-0), thanks to a 31-17 victory at South Dakota, moved up three spots to No. 22 in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll released Monday. Montana State (0-1), in spite of its loss at Texas Tech, moved ahead one position to No. 13.
Three other Big Sky teams are ranked: Eastern Washington (0-1) remained No. 4 while UC Davis (0-1) held steady at No. 5. Weber State (0-1) jumped up one position to No. 7.
Nationally, Northern Iowa made the biggest leap, vaulting seven spots to No. 11 after pushing FBS Iowa State to overtime. The Panthers eventually lost 29-26 in triple OT.
Around the league
Portland State S Romeo Gunt was named Big Sky defensive player of the week after registering a career-high 15 tackles against Arkansas. The game marked PSU’s first-ever matchup against an SEC opponent. … NAU K Luis Aguilar made four field goals in the Lumberjacks’ 37-23 victory over Missouri State and as a result was named the league's special teams player of the week. … NAU QB Case Cookus, in his first game back returning from a shoulder injury suffered last season, threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. … UC Davis’ defense forced five turnovers against Cal, but those only led to seven points.