Weber State football faces winless Portland State amid conference title chase

Thursday , November 09, 2017 - 5:00 AM

Matt Herp/Standard-Examiner

Weber State head coach Jay Hill, center, reacts while watching a replay after a penalty was called against the Wildcats called during the first half of play against Southern Utah on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, at WSU's Elizabeth Dee Shaw Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

BRANDON GARSIDE, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — No. 12 Weber State is two wins away from a Big Sky football championship.

After a win over Eastern Washington last week and a Northern Arizona loss, the Wildcats (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky) are in a three-way tie with Southern Utah and NAU for first place.

The Lumberjacks and Thunderbirds will face off in the regular season finale, meaning a maximum of two teams can tie for first place at the end of the regular season.

Tiebreakers, however, are only in place in the Big Sky to determine which team receives the automatic bid into the FCS Playoffs, and not to determine the conference champion. If there is a tie for that top spot, the teams share the conference title.

With everything to play for, the Wildcats are less focused on a Big Sky Championship and more on the task at hand: Portland State.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” senior tight end Andrew Vollert said. “We’ve had a good season and we’ve got to finish strong. That starts by taking care of business this week against a talented Portland State team.”

While they are the only team in the league without a win, the Vikings (0-9, 0-6) have talent. The young, rebuilding team has been in close games until the final quarter, but has ended up on the wrong side each time.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Davis Alexander has been a bright spot for PSU. After being sidelined for most of the year, he played against UC Davis last week and threw 30 of 51 for 409 yards and a touchdown. Alexander is the third quarterback to play for Portland State this year.

“I just didn’t think he was ready maturity-wise, but as his season went, that guy became a young leader in the locker room,” PSU head coach Bruce Barnum said. “We knew he had the tools. He wanted his shot and he worked for it. When we recruited him, I thought he had a chance to be great. I thought he might change our offense.”

The Vikings have relied primarily on the run game this season, but in the last two games the team rushed for a total 144 yards. Last week’s total of 433 passing yards was the most this season at PSU.

Coach Hill expects Alexander to be under center for the Vikings this Saturday and said he’s not certain about how much variance the offense will have compared with before.

“I don’t think it’s changed a lot other than the amount of passes went up with the new quarterback,” Wildcat head coach Jay Hill said. “We’ve got to prepare ourselves to be able to defend the run and the throw. We have to do that every week.”

The game is scheduled to kick off at 3 p.m. MST and will be streamed live on PlutoTV and WatchBigSky.com. A radio broadcast will air on 1430 AM KLO with Steve Klauke on the call.

Contact Brandon Garside at bgarside@standard.net, on Twitter @BrandonGarside and on Facebook.com/BrandonGarsideSE.