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FCS Game of the Week Preview: Montana at No. 22 Weber State

Who will win this important Big Sky showdown?

NCAA Football: Montana at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, October 28, 2017, 4 p.m. ET

Location: Stewart Stadium, Ogden, Utah

Where To Watch: ESPN3/WatchESPN

Betting Odds: Weber State -5.5, O/U 55.5

Odds via sportsbooks monitored by GamblersPalace.com


There are a host of one-loss Big Sky teams that are looking to separate themselves from the pack this weekend. Both the Weber State Wildcats and the Montana Grizzlies are sitting at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference and know how important this game is. The winner still has a chance to grab a conference title and should be a virtual lock to make the postseason, while the loser is going to have some work to do to get there.

Reasons to Like Montana

It all starts with Bob Stitt for the Grizzlies. Stitt was considered an offensive genius at Colorado School of Mines and achieved national recognition after Dana Holgorsen credited him for the fly sweep design that was so successful against Clemson in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

Stitt came to Montana at the start of the 2015 season and sent expectations into the stratosphere after knocking off North Dakota State in his very first game. Things have somewhat tailed off since then, but there’s no denying he still makes this one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. Montana has the seventh-best offense in the country, and the Griz are currently averaging 482.4 yards per game.

Reasons Not to Like Montana

The reason why the Grizzlies have yet to turn the corner is their inability to play decent defense. Montana is outside the top 100 in terms of total defense this year allowing 463.7 yards per game.

While the run defense has been alright, the pass defense has really struggled. The Grizzlies are 120th in the nation in terms of pass defense and are one of five teams allowing over 300 yards per game through the air. Considering the relatively weak schedule they have played those are not good numbers.

Reasons to Like Weber State

This Weber State team is one of the most underrated teams in the FCS. The Wildcats should have beat Cal in the second week of the season and were neck and neck with Southern Utah until star quarterback Stefan Cantwell went down with a concussion.

Cantwell is the key to this offense. He has a huge arm and has looked very good when he has been healthy. In seven games, Cantwell has thrown just two interceptions this season and is averaging nearly nine yards per pass.

Weber State has a very good defense too. Despite playing some very good offenses, the Wildcats still boast one of the top 25 defenses in the country and have allowed just 11 offensive touchdowns all year.

Reasons Not to Like Weber State

Cantwell was shaky against Cal Poly last week in his first game back since the concussion. The Wildcats mustered just 17 points on a winless Cal Poly team and needed to rely on a run game that hasn’t always held up its end of the bargain.

Weber State has tried to pound the ball and win with its defense this season, but the offensive line just hasn’t played well enough to get a lot of traction. The Wildcats are averaging 4.2 yards per carry and that has meant a lot of one-possession games.

Prediction

There’s no doubt that the X-factor in this game is Cantwell. Montana is going to find ways to put points on this defense and Cantwell will need to move the ball through the air. If he plays well the Wildcats will get the victory, but if not the Grizzlies will score a huge win.

Final Score: Weber State 34, Montana 28