Any FCS fan knows that the Big Sky Conference is routinely one of the subdivision's best year in and year out. Last year the league sent five teams to the playoffs with three of its teams receiving national seeds in the tournament. The competition runs deep out west and it's no different this season. With a month to go before Selection Sunday, though, it's truly anyone's guess as to who will come out on top when the final bell rings.
Sacramento State, Weber State, Montana State, Montana and Idaho are all vying for the Big Sky’s auto bid into the postseason and a lot of those teams will see each other over the next five weeks. Several of the upcoming games are a toss-up at best right now.
This weekend undefeated Weber State (6-0) will head to Montana State (6-1) to try and knock off the Bobcats. Bobcat Stadium is not an easy place for visitors, however, as MSU has won 16 straight in their building including the playoffs. Sean Chambers leads the FCS in rushing touchdowns with 16 while fellow QB Tommy Mellott is back from a head injury. Bronson Barron, though, is a slinger too and has 11 touchdowns and over 1,400 passing yards. Fans are in for a treat there.
While that's going on up in Bozeman, Sacramento State will play host to Montana on ESPN2 on Saturday night. The Hornets too are unbeaten at 6-0 while the Grizzlies (5-1) just suffered their first loss of the season. No one has been able to thwart Jake Dunniway and Asher O’Hara and last week Cameron Skattebo ended up on SportsCenter for his performance in Eastern Washington. A year ago Sac State beat UM in Missoula so the Griz have a revenge factor going in. Montana also boasts one of the best defensive units in the country and is disgruntled after a rare home defeat last week. Expect fireworks there too.
Then, on October 29, Idaho (4-2) hits the road to take on the aforementioned Sac State Hornets and, barring a win over Portland State this weekend, the Vandals would be unbeaten in conference play. They just proved they're capable of playing with the best the Big Sky has to offer by beating Montana on the road. Gevani McCoy is playing lights out as is Hayden Hatten. Can they do it again and really throw a wrench into things? It’ll be tough but it’s certainly possible.
On that same day, the Grizzlies will travel to Ogden for a date with Weber State. The last time UM won on the road against the Wildcats was clear back in 2012. It’ll be another battle of prolific offense vs stout defense with two of the best coaches the Big Sky has to offer in Bobby Hauck and Jay Hill.
The following week, on November 5, Weber State's gauntlet continues when they host Sacramento State in what's sure to be a high-scoring affair. Barron and Dunniway each quarterback a really high-quality offense and it'll be a matter of who can outshoot who. It could be a long day for the defenses.
And when the season wraps up on November 19, Montana and Montana State will clash in the annual "Brawl of the Wild" where there's always lots on the line. The Bobcats won four in a row over the Griz before Montana got one back last year. The game hasn't been in Bozeman since 2019, however, and the 'Cats haven't lost to UM there since 2015.
The schedule makers did a heck of a job with this one and the final stretch here is going to be a blast to watch. Don’t be surprised if the conference again puts five teams into the postseason and sees multiple seeds. Montana State did the league proud last year by making an appearance in Frisco and it seems quite possible the Big Sky could have another representative there in January again.
That's a lot of meaningful games jam packed in over the next month and the real likelihood is, none of the five teams we mentioned here are getting through their remaining games unscathed. If someone does, they're deserving of an outright league title. What is more likely is that the Big Sky will see multiple co-champs as it has so many times in the past. Fans are in for a fun one as these five sprint to the finish line.