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This Week In The Big Sky

September 30, 2000

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

Portland State has plenty of motivation. The Vikings' chances for their first conference title ended with a 40-24 season-ending loss to the Lumberjacks at Flagstaff last November. Northern Arizona has defeated the Vikings in their seven meetings, with only one of the outcomes decided by fewer than 10 points. Portland State, ranked No. 5 in Division I-AA, ranks second in the division in passing efficiency (177.7 rating). Jimmy Blanchard has passed for 911 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception in 72 attempts. Terry Charles leads I-AA at 149 yards receiving per game. Northern Arizona's Marcus King ranks third in the Big Sky in rushing with 443 yards and in scoring with 50 points, including eight rushing touchdowns. Linebacker David Moran led the Big Sky with six interceptions last season, including one against Blanchard.

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

The winner of this competitive rivalry has won the conference championship each of the last five seasons, with Montana taking the title every year except 1997. Three of the last four games have been decided by five points or fewer. Drew Miller of Montana leads the conference with 1,120 yards passing and nine touchdowns. Eastern Washington has a conference-high eight interceptions, including three by Ole Olesen. Montana, ranked No. 9 in I-AA, leads the Big Sky in offense. Eastern Washington is first in defense.

Weber State (2-2, 1-1) at Cal State Sacramento (2-2, 0-2)

Charles Roberts of Sacramento is off and running again, leading the Big Sky with 746 yards, including two games in which he has topped the 200-yard plateau. However, the Hornets have not defeated Weber State in four tries, including a 52-49 setback last season at Ogden, Utah. Weber State, last in rushing in the Big Sky, has out-rushed Sacramento in each of the last three games between the teams. The Wildcats have scored at least 41 points in three of four games against Sacramento. Senior Cole Cooper, who has passed for 817 yards and seven touchdowns, and sophomore Tyler Gladwell, who has passed for 205, share duty at quarterback for Weber State.

Montana State (0-3) at Idaho (1-3)

This nonconference game is the 42nd meeting between the schools, but the first since 1995, when Montana State posted a 16-13 victory. Idaho is coming off a victory over Washington State, its first against a Pac-10 opponent. Quarterback Farhaad Azimi of Montana State, sidelined last week because of a bruised kidney, is expected to return. Ryan Johnson ranks sixth in the Big Sky in rushing with 308 yards.

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