OGDEN — With hopes of a Big Sky Championship at stake and an FCS Playoffs appearance not quite secured, No. 14 Weber State will face its toughest task in conference play Saturday on the road at No. 11 Eastern Washington.
Northern Arizona remains the only undefeated team in conference play, but the Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 Big Sky) and Eagles (5-3, 4-1) are close behind. They join Southern Utah as three teams with one Big Sky loss.
Not only is it the biggest game of the season, it will also be coldest conditions the Wildcats have faced. The expected high temperature is 34 degrees, with a 20 percent chance of snow at kickoff time.
“This is going to be a dog fight,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said. “The weather could be bad, and I think that’s a good thing for both teams. It just depends on who handles it the best. This is a fun game, a great matchup in a really good conference.”
The contest will be similar to Weber State’s game against Montana in that the Eagles’ offense is pass heavy. Their average of 339.3 passing yards per game is third best in the Big Sky and seventh best in the country.
Junior quarterback Gage Gubrud leads the potent attack.
“I think both teams are comparable,” Hill said of Eastern Washington and Montana. “Both quarterbacks have the opportunity to beat you with their legs. Gubrud is a little bit more veteran. It’s a very similar type game, at least from our defensive perspective.”
EWU head coach Aaron Best said his team will have their work cut out for them Saturday afternoon.
“Defensively, they are very impressive not only schematically, statistically, but also physically,” Best said. “Offensively, they hold the ball, do a very good job of moving the chains. It’s hard to find any things that they aren’t good at. Not to mention special teams. They have it going, and we have our hands full in all three phases this week.”
According to Best, the way to challenge the stout Weber defense is with a balanced attack that forces Weber State to honor the run game. He acknowledged WSU will make plays, but his offense needs to have an “on to the next play” mentality to maintain possession.
Despite the game’s implications, Hill is focused on the task at hand.
“I don’t get too hung up on anything other than we’re going to play a really good Big Sky team that is very well coached and has good players,” Hill said. “I don’t know if I put as much into the who as to what this is all about. This about great Big Sky competition and play.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. MDT. The game will stream live on PlutoTV channel 234 and WatchBigSky,com. A radio broadcast will air on 1430 AM KLO with Steve Klauke and Bo Bolen on the call.