Happy to be blogging here, many of you probably know me as RE/MAXGriz over on egriz, I was asked to add some of my long winded insight into the blog features here. Earlier this week in a discussion about the next season I thought I’d take a look at how the conference has booked their out of conference schedule (OOC). It’s interesting what’s been set up, and for the amount of teams that are really striving to reach the playoffs, I was pretty surprised at how difficult they set up their schedules. So lets take a look at what each team has set up before conference play starts:
Eastern Washington – Two FBS schools in Texas Tech and Colorado, in back-to-back games, ouch. I know that the gap between top FCS teams and many FBS teams has closed, I see both of these games as very tough ones to win for EWU. They’ve also got a home against Western Washington and two open dates (which I’ll bet one gets filled). I’d expect possibly a Great West team or maybe another D2 school if they don’t want to travel. If they look to a mid-west or east coast FCS team I’d expect they’d have to travel out there. 3 road games and 1 home game OOC could be rough, however it could also really toughen them up for the conference.
Weber State – They’ve also got 2 FBS teams, Hawai’i and Utah, probably both losses, those are both very good football teams. The two home games they have booked are lower division schools, Dixie St and Montana-Western. So chances are they’ll be 2-2 when done with the OOC, however they’ll not have a single win to help their status with the playoff committee, they’ll have to win at least 7 conference games to be even considered, if they even go 6-2 in conference play they’ll just have 6 Division 1 wins. So Weber must be banking on winning the conference auto-bid this year.
Idaho State – ISU has Boise and Idaho booked in their OOC, as well as North Dakota. Boise will most likely win, Idaho… who knows, I’d think the Vandals would have the edge there. North Dakota went 10-2 last year and beat Southern Utah (although SUU didn’t win a game). I think this game will be tough for ISU, they’re rebuilding and they’re having budget issues, so they probably won’t book an FCS road game as well. They could limp out of the OOC with either a 1-2 or 0-3 record.
Portland State – They’ve got an OOC that tilts to their favor, games against Cal Davis and W. Oregon. I don’t know much about Davis, so I can’t say how competitive they’ll be. PSU should have their system in place and I think they’ll win both of those games. Also they travel to Washington State, Wulff, WSU’s coach will be familiar with them, but he’s rebuilding a Cougar team that could have trouble stopping the spread offense. Could be interesting to see what happens.
Montana – The Grizzlies have a bear of an opening game, testing a defense with 8 new starters against Cal Poly’s amazing and experienced offense. The Wofford game stung Montana, and Cal Poly could do the same. After that Montana returns to home to host Southern Utah, Central Washington and Cal Davis. Most likely they’ll finish the OOC 3-1.
Montana State – Another team with 2 FBS and 2 lower division schools. The Cats play Minnesota and Kansas State back-to-back, they also host Adams State and South Dakota. MSU could be in a similar bind as Weber State, coming out of their OOC 2-2 and relying on winning the conference to make the playoffs. I think they might have a chance to knock off Minnesota, they beat Colorado a few years back, so who knows!
Sacramento State – CSUS has an interesting OOC, they host two lower-division schools, Humbolt State and Southern Oregon. They also travel to Davis and to Colorado State. Since half of the conference is playing Davis, maybe I should check up on these guys! Sac could be 3-1 OOC when it’s all said and done, they don’t play Davis until late, as they usually do.
Northern Colorado – They’ve got 3 games booked so far, they travel to Purdue and travel to (guess who?) UC Davis. They also host Texas State. Didn’t they beat Texas State last year, or the year before that? UNC is still building, and they’re on the rise, they could come out of this 1-2 but most likely I’ll say 0-3.
Northern Arizona – NAU plays Arizona State, New Mexico Highlands (who?), and Southern Utah. Pretty straight forwards, ASU will most likely beat NAU, but the other two games should be wins for the Lumberjacks. 2-1 OOC is decent.
Quick, “Who is UC Davis?” note – Just looked it up, Davis went 5-6 last year, their most notable wins were against Portland State and beating San Diego late in the season. They didn’t do much else. A quick manual count has them losing 12 seniors to graduation from the 2007 season, which included some skill players. They’re a younger team, probably still finding their way.
It amazes me how some teams almost schedule themselves right out of the playoffs, I know it’s usually because of money issues, but there’s a lot of cases where teams would have made the playoffs if they wouldn’t have booked 2 or 3 FBS teams, or didn’t book 2 or 3 Division 2 (or lower) schools. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, it’s just a bummer we’ve got to wait so long until football season actually starts.