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This Week in the Big Sky

October 07, 2000

Hofstra (4-1) at Portland State (4-0)

The game of the week for Big Sky teams is this nonconference matchup of national powers. Portland State, 2-0 in Big Sky play, is off to its best start since going 5-0 in 1969. The Vikings are ranked No. 4 among Division I-AA teams. Hofstra, which opened the season with a 10-9 victory at Montana, is ranked No. 10 and coming off a 51-36 victory over No. 19 Massachusetts. Hofstra's only loss is to No. 7 Delaware. Portland State has defeated Big Sky rivals Cal State Sacramento and Northern Arizona, which were both ranked in the Top 25 at the time, and Hawaii on the road. Rocky Butler directs the run-and-shoot offense for the Pride. He has thrown for 1,171 yards and nine touchdowns and also run for 240 yards. Portland State features one of the most-balanced offenses in the nation with Jimmy Blanchard (278.0 yards passing per game) and Charles Dunn (181.2 yards rushing per game). Dunn ran for 201 yards last week, his second consecutive game over 200.

Eastern Washington (3-2, 2-1) at Montana State (0-4, 0-1)

This is the grudge match of the week as former Eastern Washington coach Mike Kramer seeks his first victory with the Bobcats. Eastern Washington, ranked No. 23, lost, 41-31, to No. 9 Montana last week after opening Big Sky play with victories over Idaho State, 38-7, and Weber State, 27-24 in double overtime. The Eagles are banged up on the offensive line and were aided against the Grizzlies by two kickoff-return touchdowns by Lamont Brightful. Montana State has not been close to any opponents since losing its opener to Division II Cal State Humboldt, 23-14. Lopsided losses followed to Weber State (23-7), Cal Poly (35-14) and I-A Idaho (56-7), which gained 620 yards. Kramer was 37-32 in six years at Eastern Washington.

CS Sacramento (3-2, 1-2) at Montana (3-1, 1-0)

The Grizzlies are in familiar territory heading into the heart of the Big Sky schedule--vying for a conference title and top 10 national ranking. Sacramento, a preseason pick to challenge for the title, got its first conference victory last week against Weber State, 35-7, as Charles Roberts rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns and Ricky Ray threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Last season, Montana stopped Sacramento, 41-38, in overtime. The Grizzlies are led by Drew Miller, who threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns last week against Eastern Washington. He also ran for a score.

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

Surprising Idaho State, which ended a 10-game road losing streak at Northridge last week with a 31-30 overtime decision, should receive a test at home. Northern Arizona has lost two consecutive games, including a 42-10 loss at home to Portland State last week. Northern Arizona recorded a 49-26 victory at Northridge on Sept. 16 to open Big Sky play. Both teams try to feature a balanced attack. The Bengals have Shane Griggs, who throws for 256.0 yards per game and has seven touchdowns, and Nick Whitworth, who rushes for 85.0 yards per game and has three touchdowns. The Lumberjacks have Preston Parsons, who throws for 268 yards per game and has six touchdowns, and Marcus King, who rushes for 139.5 yards per game and has eight touchdowns.

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