CEDAR CITY — After playing its first four games of the season on the road, homecoming takes on a new meaning for Southern Utah's football team this Saturday.
The Thunderbirds host No. 10 Cal Poly — their third straight ranked opponent — in their first Great West Football Conference encounter. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. at Eccles Coliseum.
The Thunderbirds (2-2) are coming off a 56-14 win over then-No. 23 McNeese State, a win which snapped a two-game losing streak.
"We've been able to get it going the last couple of weeks," said SUU coach Wes Meier. "If you asked me going into the season if I would be happy at 2-2 after four road games I would have probably said 'yes,' and I am glad we have two wins. It's just frustrating we are really a couple of plays away from being 3-1 or 4-0. I feel pretty good about the way we're playing right now though, on both sides of the ball."
Cal Poly (4-0), the preseason favorite to win the conference title, will be looking to stay undefeated and atop the GWFC standings after opening league play with a 14-7 win over South Dakota State last week in San Luis Obispo.
"Cal Poly has a very effective option offense and a very stingy defense," said Meier. "When Rich (Ellerson) was here, he liked the option and he was known as a great defensive coach and things haven't changed much in that regard."
The Mustangs have been most effective with the running game this season, averaging 229.5 yards per game on the ground with their option attack. Their defense also has been impressive.
"They've got a lot of sacks and they've intercepted a ton of passes," Meier said. "Defensively they're as good a team as we'll see this year. They've got a great linebacker in Jordan Beck, and he's by no means a one-man team back there. Their front is excellent, their linebackers are excellent and their defensive backs are excellent."
Beck is a Buck Buchanan Award candidate who has registered 38 tackles, six tackles for loss and three interceptions. The Mustangs have intercepted 12 passes as a team.