(Sports Network) - It may seem Cal Poly football operates in the witness
The Mustangs often have some of the latest kickoff times on a typical FCS
They are playing their first season in the Big Sky Conference with likely the
conference's easiest schedule.
They run the always unfamiliar triple option.
Even the exotic-named San Luis Obispo, where their campus is located just
inside the Pacific Coast about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco,
offers an arduous trip for visiting opponents.
Yet while you were sleeping, Cal Poly has been one of the bigger surprises
this season - one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the FCS.
Head coach Tim Walsh and his Cal Poly staff are accustomed to the relative
anonymity, so this year has not been different as the Mustangs have snuck up
on opponents with a 7-0 record that is their best to start a season since
Cal Poly returned from its bye week Saturday night with a 37-25 Homecoming win
over Portland State - the program Walsh coached for 14 seasons - at Alex G.
Ranked 14th this past week, the Mustangs might be ready to move into the Top
With 13 teams in the Big Sky, there's little margin for error in the title
race. But no team has benefited more from the conference's unbalanced
scheduling than Cal Poly, which doesn't play traditional powers Montana and
Montana State (also last year's co-champions) and its Nov. 3 game at No. 1-
ranked Eastern Washington doesn't count toward either team's conference record
because they have eight other assigned conference games.
Still, Cal Poly is not to be taken lightly, as evidenced by its win over an
FBS school, 24-22 at Wyoming on Sept. 15.
The Mustangs' triple option, which utilizes two slotbacks and a fullback, is
something opponents usually see once each season and they often struggle
against it. The Mustangs rank third nationally with 314.3 rushing yards per
game, but veteran quarterback Andre Broadous is operating a bit more out of
the shot gun this season poses more of a passing threat than those in some of
the FCS' other triple option offenses at Georgia Southern, The Citadel and
Senior slotback Deonte Williams has been the real difference-maker for the
former Great West Conference member this season, breaking out as one of the
nation's top rushers after he put on 15-20 pounds this past offseason. He has
rushed for 926 yards on 6.9 yards per carry.
Plus the defense has been much-improved even after it lost All-America
cornerback Asa Jackson and some of its key linemen to graduation.
Kennith Jackson and Johnny Millard have carried on the Mustangs' rich
tradition at linebacker, while junior tackle Sullivan Grosz has been a beast
upfront and undersized safety Alex Hubbard and cornerback Nico Molino have
helped stabilize the secondary. Some FBS transfers, including defensive end
Jake Irwin from Wisconsin, also have come aboard to provide depth in the
Three of Cal Poly's final four regular-season games are on the road against
winning teams. In addition to the game against Eastern Washington, the
Mustangs go to Sacramento State next Saturday and Northern Arizona on Nov. 17.
The lone cupcake is Idaho State at home on Nov. 10.
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO
Cal Poly and Lehigh (8-0) are the only unbeaten teams after Harvard and
Tennessee State fell for the first time on Saturday.
The defense had carried Princeton throughout the season, but the surprising
Tigers scored all of their points in the second half of a 39-34 rally past
Harvard. Quinn Epperly's 36-yard touchdown pass to Roman Wilson with 13
seconds left helped cap the Tigers' 29-point fourth quarter.
The win ended Harvard's 14-game winning streak, which had been the longest in
the FCS, and left Princeton (4-2, 3-0) all alone in first place in the Ivy
Tennessee State also fell in a thriller as Jacksonville State worked overtime
for a 31-28 win in the Ohio Valley Conference. Thomas Griffin's 44-yard field
goal was the difference for the Gamecocks after the Tigers' Jamin Godfrey
missed field goals to end regulation and the first overtime possession.
TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
A recap of games in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 can be found at
STOCK RISING, STOCK FALLING
Rising: Colgate (4-3) has won four of its last five games, losing only to
Stony Brook by one point, and perhaps turning its Nov. 10 visit to unbeaten
Lehigh into a Patriot League title game. In a 57-36 win over Georgetown,
quarterback Gavin McCarney threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns and rushed
for 133 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders' 707 total yards were a school
Falling: Missouri Valley Football Conference teams are beating up on each
other too much. South Dakota State, which was the leader before Saturday's
action, was roughed up at Northern Iowa. Youngstown State, which was third-
ranked just a few weeks ago, has lost three straight games. Illinois State
suffered a home loss to Missouri State and now faces a difficult remaining
schedule while it tries to avoid being left out of the FCS playoffs again.
AROUND THE NATION
Big Sky: Montana (3-5, 1-4) is out of the playoff picture and one loss away
from having its first losing season in 26 years. In North Dakota's 40-34 win
over the Grizzlies, Greg Hardin completed a Big Sky-record 333-yard receiving
performance with a 32-yard touchdown reception with 12 seconds left. UND
quarterback Braden Hanson completed 42-of-61 passes for 660 yards and five
touchdowns with three interceptions ... It's looking more like Mike Kramer
will be out as Idaho State head coach after this season. This has been an
especially ugly season for the Bengals (1-6), who lost to Northern Colorado,
52-14, on Saturday and haven't won on the road since 2006 ... Seth Lobato
threw five touchdowns in Northern Colorado's win. Also, junior Tromaine Dennis
set the school's Division I rushing record with 178 yards and two touchdowns
... New No. 1 Eastern Washington survived a game Sacramento State, 31-28.
Eagles coach Beau Baldwin seems content to rotate Vernon Adams and Kyle Padron
at quarterback again.
Big South: Teddy Allen rushed for 153 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries
and Charleston Southern beat Presbyterian, 31-21, for its first two-game
winning streak since 2009. The Buccaneers (3-4) next host NAIA Edward Waters
with a chance to reach the .500 mark ... Coastal Carolina quarterback Aramis
Hillary has thrown a school-record 159 passes without an interception.
CAA Football: Towson's playoff hope is on life support at 3-4. The defending
conference champion must sweep Villanova, Delaware and New Hampshire on the
road as well as beat Rhode Island at home. This is what often happens to a
team from an FCS power conference that plays two FBS opponents ... First place
belongs to New Hampshire and Villanova, both 6-2 overall and 4-1 in
conference, after No. 2 James Madison fell to Richmond ... Kudos to Richmond
quarterback Michael Strauss for passing for 271 yards and four touchdowns as
he replaced injured starter John Laub in Richmond's 35-29 surprise of JMU ....
UNH held on to beat Maine, 28-21, in the 100th meeting between the programs.
Sean Goldrich, making his first start since Sept. 8, threw for four
touchdowns, including two to Harold Spears. Six of the last seven games in the
series have been decided by seven points or less.
Ivy: What's that about patience? Just two weeks ago, junior tailback Jordan
Reisner was fifth on Brown's depth chart. Injuries to players ahead of him
opened up more playing time, and he ran for 193 yards and two touchdowns in a
21-14 win over Cornell. The Bears picked off Cornell senior quarterback Jeff
Mathews three times ... Great signs for surging Princeton: The last time the
Tigers beat Harvard and were on a four-game winning streak was 2006, when they
won league title (sharing it with Yale).
MEAC: Savannah State ended an FCS-worst 13-game losing streak by tripping
Edward Waters, 42-35. Antonio Bostick threw three of his four touchdown passes
to Simon Heyward and rushed for two touchdowns ... Delaware State has a three-
game MEAC winning streak for the first time since 2007 after a 27-0 blanking
of North Carolina A&T - also its first shutout since '07. Travis Tarpley
caught nine passes for 128 yards and a touchdown ... In its five wins,
surprising conference co-leader North Carolina Central is averaging 40 points
... Highly touted redshirt freshman Quentin Williams has played quite well
since taking over the starting quarterback job for Bethune-Cookman.
Missouri Valley: Defending national champion North Dakota State's defense has
allowed only six touchdowns in seven games ... Despite a season-low 112
rushing yards against Northern Iowa, FCS rushing leader Zach Zenner of South
Dakota State is still on pace for a 2,000-yard season (2,137) ... Indiana
State (6-2, 4-1) and Southern Illinois (5-3, 4-1) own a share of the
conference lead after posting road wins.
Northeast: Duquesne linebacker Dorian Bell was dominant in Duquesne's 35-3 win
over Sacred Heart. The 2011 Ohio State transfer collected 14 tackles,
including four sacks and five tackles for loss with an interception and a
forced fumble ... The Jordans were at it again for Bryant, with running back
Jordan Brown rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver Jordan
Harris hauling in 107 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a first-ever win
over Monmouth, 27-24.
Ohio Valley: What a title race with UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky both 4-1
and Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State 3-1 in conference games ... Having
beaten an FBS team (Memphis), UT Martin (6-2) could be headed to the playoffs
with at least two wins in its last three games. The Skyhawks were last in the
playoffs in 2006 .. What a difference with Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garappolo
and Murray State's Casey Brockman off this weekend. The pass-happy conference
watched as five of its six teams in action featured 100-yard rushers, led by
Trabis Ware's 168 yards for Tennessee State.
Patriot: Needing three tackles to break Nick Parrish's school record for
career tackles, Georgetown linebacker Robert McCabe blew past it with 17 in
the Hoyas' loss to Colgate. The FCS' leading tackler has 364 in his career ...
Freshman Laquan Lambert blocked a pair of punts and Lehigh blocked
four kicks overall in a 42-19 win over Bucknell ... Lehigh and Colgate are
getting the most attention, but Lafayette also is 2-0 in the league race,
having beaten disappointing Holy Cross, 30-13, on Saturday. Mark Ross caught
12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Pioneer: Co-leader Drake sidestepped a home loss to Marist by scoring the
final 31 points of a 34-27 overtime win. Gary Scott's 2-yard touchdown in OT
was the game-winner ... Similarly, Butler kept a share of first place by
scoring the final 22 points of the fourth quarter - on three Matt Lancaster
touchdown passes - for a 39-35 victory ... San Diego stayed alive in the title
race by handing Jacksonville its first league loss, 24-7. USD quarterback
Mason Mills threw three touchdowns, while Jacksonville starter Kade Bell left
early with a knee injury ... Dayton rolled up 473 rushing yards and tied its
program record with 631 overall yards in a 45-0 rout of Valparaiso. Dan Jacob
rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
SoCon: Wofford's triple option battered Appalachian State's defense for 393
rushing yards on 63 carries in a 38-28 triumph. Fullback Eric Breitenstein
gobbled up 123 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. With 4,813 career
rushing yards, he is 315 yards behind Shawn Graves' school-record 5,128 yards
... Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette posted the 18th 100-yard game of his
career, hauling in 154 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-31 win over Western
Carolina. He's now second in conference history with 39 career TD receptions.
Southland: Stephen F. Austin quarterback Brady Attaway stayed on a roll in the
Lumberjacks' 44-10 rout of Nicholls. He was 41-of-65 for 474 yards and five
touchdowns with two interceptions ... Over the last two games, Sam Houston's
Richard Sincere has played like the dynamic offensive player of a year ago,
combining with Bearkats running back Timothy Flanders. The Bearkats (5-2, 3-1)
have only one more home game this season ... Everybody knows Central Arkansas
quarterback Wynrick Smothers has enjoyed a big season, but give credit to the
wide receiver combination of Dominique Croom and Jesse Grandy, who have
combined to catch 83 passes and 10 touchdowns.
SWAC: Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5-2, 4-1) took a huge step toward winning the West
Division title by drilling Southern, 50-21, on the road. The Golden Lions, who
got 371 yards of total offense and two totals from quarterbacn Benjamin
Anderson, are up two games on Southern and Prairie View A&M ... De'Auntre
Smiley completed 16-of-20 attempts for 251 yards and four touchdowns in
Prairie View's 52-37 win over Alcorn State ... Jackson State's 14-7 double-
overtime win over Mississippi Valley State was its 18th straight in the
series. JSU quarterback Clayton Moore scored the game-winning touchdown on a
1-yard TD sneak.
Extra Point: Four of the seven winless teams entering Week 8 won Saturday:
Davidson (Pioneer), Grambling State (SWAC), Savannah State (MEAC) and Weber
State (Big Sky). Austin Peay (OVC), Rhode Island (CAA) and Valparaiso
(Pioneer) remain in search of a win heading into the final four weekends of
A LOOK AHEAD
The season's biggest crowd will turn out at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.,
next Saturday for the SWAC showdown between Alabama A&M (6-1) and Alabama
State (4-3). First place in the East Division is at stake.
There are plenty of other important conference games, including: Big Sky,
Eastern Washington at Southern Utah and Cal Poly at Sacramento State; Big
South, Liberty at Coastal Carolina; CAA, Delaware at Old Dominion and Towson
at Villanova; Ivy, Princeton at Cornell and Harvard at Dartmouth; MEAC, Howard
at South Carolina State and North Carolina Central at Bethune-Cookman;
Missouri Valley, Youngstown State at South Dakota State, Southern Illinois at
North Dakota State and Illinois State at Northern Iowa.
Also: NEC, Monmouth at Duquesne; OVC, Eastern Illinois at Eastern Kentucky and
Tennessee Tech at Tennessee State; Patriot, Georgetown at Lafayette; SoCon,
The Citadel at Wofford and Georgia Southern at Chattanooga; and Southland,
Stephen F. Austin at McNeese State and Central Arkansas at surprising
conference leader Southeastern Louisiana.
The Sports Network