The Eagles, Big Sky Conference defending champions, are coming off a 31-14 loss to Division I-A Idaho. Eastern Washington, which led I-AA in offense last season at 505.6 yards per game, finished with 262 yards. Junior Griffin Garske completed 15 of 34 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown, but is questionable tonight after injuring his left shoulder against Idaho. Keish Levingston, a junior college transfer, had two receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore running back Chip Dunn of Portland State, who last year had 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns, is the Big Sky's top returning rusher. Portland State leads the series, 11-8-1, but lost the last two meetings. The Vikings have completed an NCAA-mandated two-year compliance period after moving to Division I and are eligible for the Big Sky title and the playoffs.
Southern Utah (0-0) at Montana (1-0)
Montana, ranked No. 3 in I-AA by the Sports Network, last week won a shootout against Stephen F. Austin, 49-42. Senior Brian Ah Yat rallied the Grizzlies from a 20-point deficit in the second half, scoring the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with six minutes to play. His six touchdown passes tied a school game record and were one shy of the Big Sky mark. The Grizzlies are seeking their 11th consecutive victory in a home opener. Southern Utah, a I-AA independent, was 5-6 last season and dropped five of its last six. Senior fullback Brook Madsen and senior linebacker Jimmy Brimmer are the Thunderbirds' top returners. Montana won the only meeting between the teams, 44-13, in 1996.
Montana State (1-0) at Wyoming (0-0)
These teams meet like clockwork every 48 years. Wyoming romped, 61-13, in the 1950 matchup at Laramie and the buzz is people in Bozeman are still steamed. The Cowboys, who last year had an 8-5 record and placed fourth in the Western Athletic Conference's Pacific Division with a 4-4 mark, are Montana State's only I-A opponent this season. The Bobcats opened their renovated stadium in style last week with a 45-9 victory over Fort Lewis (Colo.). Rob Compson completed 15 of 26 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and Eric Kinnaman carried 10 times for 85 yards and two scores. Wyoming features Jay Stoner, who last season passed for 1,890 yards and eight touchdowns.
Southwest Texas State (1-0) at Northern Arizona (1-0)
Northern Arizona already is showing the influence of new Coach Jerome Souers, a former defensive coordinator at Montana. The Lumberjacks last week stopped Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 9-0, holding the Mustangs to 157 yards. Afa Faraimo, Northern Arizona's junior linebacker, made 11 tackles, including six for losses. He was selected Big Sky defensive player of the week. Mike Goldstein rescued the Lumberjacks, kicking field goals of 22, 43 and 39 yards. Southwest Texas State last week defeated Delta State, 17-10. Northern Arizona beat the Bobcats, 39-0, in 1986, the only meeting between the schools.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-1) at Cal State Sacramento (1-0)
The Hornets last week defeated St. Mary's, 25-12, for their first victory in an opener since John Volek became coach in 1995. It snapped Sacramento's 10-game road losing streak dating to Sept. 21, 1996. The Hornets, last in rushing defense last season in the Big Sky, limited St. Mary's to 49 yards rushing. Senior cornerback Dannie Walker intercepted a pass and forced two fumbles. Cal Poly last week lost to Northern Arizona, 9-0. Junior running back Antonio Warren gained 30 yards and has 3,004 in his career. San Luis Obispo last season routed Sacramento, 45-0.
Humboldt State (0-1) at Weber State (1-0)
Jerry Graybeal, a former defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington, won his coaching debut when the Wildcats dumped Montana Tech, 38-7, on Sept. 3 in Ogden, Utah. The Wildcats held Montana Tech, an NAIA school, to 80 yards rushing. They move up a notch on the difficulty scale tonight, facing a Division II team coming off a 30-24 loss to Rocky Mountain. Junior Morgan Welch of Weber State, playing in place of injured Derek Poole, carried 19 times for 177 yards and a touchdown. Poole, the team's leading rusher last season, with 541 yards, has a broken foot and is sidelined indefinitely. Matt Mitchell of Humboldt State completed 34 of 48 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns but had three passes intercepted. It is these schools' first meeting.