It’s another top-10 battle: No. 10 Weber State hosts No. 3 Montana State
ROBERT CASEY, Weber State Athletics
For the fourth time in two years, Weber State football squares off against Montana State in a matchup of top-25 ranked teams.
For the third straight time, it’s a game between top-10 teams.
The No. 3 Bobcats come to Stewart Stadium to take on the No. 10 Wildcats in a matchup that’s recently served as a barometer for either side.
In Weber State’s rise to Big Sky prominence, it was three straight wins over Montana State (2016-18) that helped signify the Wildcats were the real deal. And the last three (2021, two games in 2022) have solidified Montana State’s rise to the top of the league.
So Weber State has a puzzle to solve, having taken losses of 13-7, 43-38 and 33-25 in the series since October 2021 (the last defeat came in the second round of the FCS playoffs).
Photo supplied, Weber State Athletics
Injuries will play a role, primarily to MSU quarterback Tommy Mellott. In last year’s wild regular-season meeting, Mellott was a game-time decision in the Bobcats’ two-quarterback system, then proceeded to take every snap on the way to rushing for 273 yards.
The junior Mellott is hurt again, but this time has been completely ruled out ahead of the matchup against Weber State.
Weber State will likely be without starting cornerback Marque Collins and defensive end Okiki Olorunfunmi for the second straight week. Keahnist Thompson and Cameren Cope are now listed as co-starters on Olorunfunmi’s former side, while Brayden Wilson starts on the other defensive end, backed up by Bronson Childs.
Abraham Williams, backed up by Montae Pate, continues to start in Collins’ cornerback spot. Williams leads the country in yards per kickoff return at 39.8.
MEET THE BOBCATS
Senior Sean Chambers is at the helm and MSU’s offense has been as powerful as ever. Chambers was an inch or two from completing a game-winning TD pass at No. 1 South Dakota State, then quarterbacked the Bobcats to a 57-20 blowout of Stetson.
Chambers (No. 10) totaled 9-of-13 passing for 140 yards, while adding five carries for 55 yards and two touchdowns, in limited action because MSU also got valuable reps to Jordan Reed in the blowout. MSU ran for 342 yards against Stetson.
Jared White (No. 3) leads the team in net rushing yards at 180 on just 12 carries (15 yards per carry), averaging 60 yards per game. Scottre Humphrey (No. 22) rushes for 56 yards per game, scoring six touchdowns, Chambers has been good for 55 rushing hards per game, and Julius Davis (No. 32) checks in with 49 yards per game.
The run-based Bobcats are most likely to throw to No. 2 Clevan Thomas Jr. (No. 2), Jacob Trimble (No. 25) and tight end Derryk Snell (No. 8), and do a solid job of mixing in backbreaking pass plays to keep defenses spinning.
Linebacker Danny Uluilakepa (No. 30) leads the defense again (15 tackles) with Nolan Askelson (No. 41) alongside him (12 tackles). Safety Rylan Ortt (No. 26) is a playmaker in the secondary; he’s recorded 11 tackles, two for loss including one sack, and grabbed one interception this season.
TEAM VS. TEAM METRICS
Through three games, Weber State is averaging 25.3 points and 274 yards per game, averaging 5.1 yards per play — though that early-season sample includes one game against FBS-elite defense Utah. Defensively, WSU gives up 19.3 points and 353 yards per game on a 4.9 yards-per-play average.
Montana State averages 45.3 points on 515.7 yards per game, averaging 7.7 yards per play — leading FCS in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense (319 ypg). Defensively, the Bobcats allow an average of 20 points per game on 310 yards and a 5.4 yards-per-play average.
ODDS & PREDICTIONS
Jeff Sagarin ranks Weber State No. 7 in FCS and No. 107 in all of Division I (FBS and FCS). Montana State is No. 3 in FCS and No. 73 overall. Including accounting for home-field advantage, his formula favors Montana State by six points.
Bill Connelly ranks Weber State at No. 9 in FCS and Montana State at No. 3. His formula predicts a Montana State win at 35-27.
D Ratings predicts a Montana State victory of 31-30 at 52% probability.
Two consecutive rainy days in Ogden will give way to sunny skies Saturday just in time for football — no repeats of last year’s rain-soaked regular-season game or iced-on-turf playoff game in Bozeman, Montana.
The weather forecast calls for sunny skies and a pleasant 68 degrees at 6 p.m. kickoff. The sun will set and temperatures will be around 57 degrees at game’s end.
TV & RADIO
A traveling crew from Montana, who called last year’s regular-season game, will be on the mic for local TV broadcast through the Big Sky’s media deal with Scripps, which will also be available on the ESPN+ subscription service. Ben Creighton and Ty Gregorak will have the TV call, which will air on KUPX/ION in Utah — known as channel 16 but may land elsewhere on the dial depending on TV/cable/satellite provider.
As veteran and Voice of the Wildcats Steve Klauke finishes his Salt Lake Bees retirement season, Craig Hislop will have WSU radio play-by-play duties on 103.1 FM and www.1031thewave.com, with Jerry Graybeal doing color commentary.
Montana State holds a 33-23-1 all-time advantage in the series between two charter members of the Big Sky. Weber State is 13-15 in games played in Ogden.