It's not often a conference opener can be called a "must win" game, but today's Weber State/Idaho matchup will go a long way in deciding the Big Sky Conference champion.
The Vandals are ranked seventh in the latest NCAA Division 1-AA poll and were chosen by the coaches in the preseason as the team to beat in the league. Weber State, which was ranked 11th in the preseason poll nationally, was predicted by the coaches to place second in the conference."There's no question this is a big game," Idaho coach John L. Smith said. "The last few years the winner of this game has either gone on to win the conference or gone to the playoffs."
Idaho is coming off an impressive 37-34 victory over Colorado State last week. The Vandals trailed the Rams 28-0 in the first quarter, but battled back for the upset behind 390 passing yards by quarterback Doug Nussmeier.
Weber, meanwhile, is 1-1 on the year after losing to New Mexico State and beating Southern Utah. So far the Wildcats' prolific offense, engineered by all-American quarterback Jamie Martin, hasn't put up the record-breaking numbers of a year ago.
"We have to make dramatic improvement this week, but I feel we are heading in the right direction," Weber coach Dave Arslanian said.
The Vandals and Wildcats run similar offenses which Weber linebacker Deric Gurley thinks may give the defenses an advantage. "We see they type of packages they use all the time in practice, so we should be ready for it," Gurley said. "We know they are good, but they aren't unbeatable.
Gurley has first hand knowledge that Idaho can be beat. Last season the Wildcats pounded the Vandals, 45-17, in Ogden.