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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

This Week in the Big Sky

October 10, 1998|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

Montana State (3-1, 1-0) at Weber State (5-0, 3-0)

The Wildcats have the longest winning streak in the Big Sky Conference, six games dating to last year, and have won nine in a row at home. They are coming off a 27-14 victory at Cal State Sacramento, where Morgan Welch rushed for 156 yards and one touchdown. Welch is the top rusher in Division I-AA at 189.8 yards per game. But what makes Weber State particularly tough is its defense. The Wildcats, ranked No. 9 in one national poll, are first in the conference and fifth in I-AA in defense, allowing 223.4 yards per game. They give up a Big Sky-low 79.2 yards passing per game and 11.2 points. Montana State is unranked but is rated No. 92 in the Sagarin Division I ratings, the highest among Big Sky schools. The Bobcats have the 16th-best offense in I-AA, averaging 426.0 yards and 33.0 points. Weber State hasn't lost to Montana State at home since 1984, a span of six games.

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Idaho State (1-3, 1-1) at Northern Arizona (3-2, 0-2)

Vastly improved over the last few years, Idaho State is giving Big Sky opponents all they can handle. The Bengals defeated Portland State and lost to first-place Weber State, 6-3, allowing only two field goals. Their other two losses came against I-A New Mexico and Idaho, and their schedule is the most difficult among conference schools, according to the Sagarin ratings. The Bengals are opportunistic, ranking second in the Big Sky with a turnover margin of three, and rely considerably on their special teams. Northern Arizona is struggling without junior quarterback Travis Brown, out because of an elbow injury the last three games and not available tonight.

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CS Sacramento (2-3, 0-2) at Portland State (1-3, 1-2)

Portland State last week came within 29 seconds of snapping a six-game plunge against Montana, but the Grizzlies scored on an eight-yard pass play to win, 20-17. The Vikings have lost their last two games by a combined five points. The Vikings feature Chip Dunn, third in the conference in rushing at 130.8 yards per game, and Sacramento counters with Charles Roberts, second in the Big Sky in rushing at 182.2 yards. Sacramento, a 27-14 loser last week to conference front-runner Weber State, is looking for its second Big Sky victory since becoming a member in 1996.

Nonconference

Western Washington (3-1) at Eastern Washington (1-3)

Eastern Washington resumes one of its oldest rivalries, dating to 1923 but interrupted after the 1978 game, won by the Eagles, 26-16. Eastern Washington leads the series, 37-25. The Eagles pulled off a 21-17 victory last week over Northern Arizona, and Western Washington is coming off a 38-17 victory over Humboldt State.

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