Grizzlies No. 1, But Weber State in the Hunt

By Beacon Staff

Preseason Big Sky Conference football rankings have come out and, of course, the University of Montana is on top again in both the coaches’ and media polls. The Grizzlies have shared or outright won the last 11 conference titles, a remarkable feat in any level of collegiate football. So they deserve to be ranked No. 1 again, but I would venture to say they aren’t as clear-cut of a favorite as in past years.

For anybody outside of Grizzly country, it would be tempting to choose Weber State as the preseason favorite. The Wildcats were second in both polls and nearly wrested the Big Sky crown from UM last year. If you remember, Weber State rolled over the Grizzlies 45-28 in October before finishing the season in a tie for first with Montana.

Weber State has an impressive 10 players named on this year’s preseason all-conference list, including defending conference MVP quarterback Cameron Higgins and rushing champion Trevyn Smith. On paper, the Wildcats are tough – tough enough to prompt the Missoulian’s Fritz Neighbor to write:

I thought there might be a chance, with their conference offensive MVP and powder-keg running back among nine first- or second-team all-league players returning, that the Weber State Wildcats would push the Griz down a peg.

But the Grizzlies are the Grizzlies and they have a talented team returning as well, led by Drummond native Chase Reynolds, who rushed for 1,573 yards and 22 touchdowns last year. And, of course, they’re the champions, so they must be favored. But it could be an exciting year in the Big Sky Conference.

Media Poll:

1. Montana (27) 283
2. Weber State (5) 261
3. Montana State 203
4. Eastern Washington 195
5. Northern Arizona 156
6. Portland State 120
7. Sacramento State 102
8. Northern Colorado 71
9. Idaho State 47

Coaches Poll:

1. Montana (7) 63
2. Weber State (1) 57
3. Eastern Washington (1) 48
4. Montana State 41
5. Northern Arizona 32
6. Portland State 30
7. Sacramento State 27
8. Northern Colorado 15
9. Idaho State 10