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Weber State football hosts Northern Colorado, McCaffreys in finale

By Brett Hein - | Nov 19, 2021

MATT HERP, Standard-Examiner file photo

In this Sept 22, 2018, photo, Weber State and Northern Colorado line up for a play at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

Weber State football will take on Northern Colorado for the first time since 2018 in the regular-season finale serving as Senior Day for the Wildcats.

WSU (5-5, 4-3 Big Sky) is oddly playing for its first home win of the season, and its seventh consecutive winning season. The Wildcats have handled teams of Northern Colorado’s profile (3-7, 2-5) convincingly this season. WSU has four wins over Dixie State, Cal Poly, Idaho State and Southern Utah by an average score of 45-7.

“It’s going to be brotherhood, it’s going to be passion, it’s going to be excitement. We’re going to leave it all out there and we’re going to do it for Ogden,” senior linebacker Conner Mortensen said. “They’ve been there for us so we’re going to give everything we’ve got and get them a home win this season, finally. They deserve one.”

Northern Colorado is a McCaffrey-led squad: former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey is a first-year head coach, one son Max is offensive coordinator, and another son Dylan is the quarterback.

The Bears average just under 15 points per game, even including a 45-13 victory at winless Houston Baptist. UNCo also has a 17-10 home win over Northern Arizona and a 17-9 win at Southern Utah. They have scored 10 or less points in half of their games.

“Offensively, I think everything goes around the quarterback. If he plays great, then they’ve got a chance,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said. “He’s going to have to go in there and throw for a bunch of yards and light it up, in my opinion.”

Dylan McCaffrey throws for 145 yards per game with a 60% completion rate, totaling five touchdowns and seven interceptions. His top target is Washington State transfer Kassidy Woods (430 yards, three touchdowns). The Bears’ top rusher is Gene Sledge Jr. (450 yards, four touchdowns).

Northern Colorado’s best success has been defensive, allowing 28 points per game. Defensive end David Hoage is second nationally in tackles for loss; his 22 TFLs include 10.5 sacks. Joe Golden has seven TFLs and three sacks from the other end spot, and their effectiveness will determine a lot about Saturday’s game.

Weber State is 9-1 all-time against the Bears, including 3-0 under Hill.

CONSISTENCY

Hill said what he wants most from his offense is consistency — in running back success, in pass protection and run blocking, and in Bronson Barron identifying open receivers. All three happened last week, leading to the most efficient offensive game in some time at WSU.

INJURY REPORT

Weber State played last week’s 62-0 win at Southern Utah without Kam Garrett, Max Anderson, LJ Anderson and Marque Collins in the secondary. Collins is still questionable with an ankle injury. Garrett and LJ Anderson will be available after sitting due to COVID protocols; Max Anderson is still unavailable for the same reason.

Junior running back Josh Davis is questionable after a leg injury suffered midway through the season. Junior receiver Randal Grimes will not be available for the second straight week due to coach’s decision.

ODDS & PREDICTIONS

Jeff Sagarin, longtime college football computer ratings guru, ranks all of FBS and FCS together. His system ranks Weber State 125th nationally and Northern Colorado 202nd.

Using his prediction formula and accounting for home-field advantage, Weber State is favored by 21 points.

WEATHER

Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff at Stewart Stadium will be a cool, late-fall afternoon.

The forecast calls for 44 degrees with cloudy skies and a slight breeze at kickoff time, and it should hold at about that for the game’s entirety.

TV & RADIO

The game will stream on the subscription ESPN+ service, available on the ESPN mobile or streaming-device apps, or on a browser at espn.com/watch. Weber State’s radio call will air locally on 103.1 FM and online at 1031thewave.com. Tony Parks and Jerry Graybeal will have the call for video and radio.

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