Weber State University’s Mike Hoke prepares to throw a ball in a recent game. The Wildcats will play their first home game of the season this weekend against McNeese State University.

The Weber State University football team will host McNeese State University on Saturday for its first home game of the season.

The Wildcats are coming off two preseason games, in which they faced two FBS school opponents in a row. They first played California State University, Fresno in Fresno, Calif., on Sept. 1 and left the game with a 37-10 loss. Last week, the Wildcats paid a visit to the Brigham Young University Cougars in Provo and suffered their second loss of the preseason with a score of 45-13.

WSU will not only be playing its home-opening game, but will also be commencing its final game outside of Big Sky Conference play.

MSU, coming to Utah from Louisiana, is ranked No. 19 in the FCS overall standings. The Cowboys are 2-0 so far in their season, which has included a win against McMurry University with a score of 69-7.

“McNeese State is a very skilled and mature team and will be a tough test for us,” said WSU head football coach Jody Sears. “We have to stay with our game plan and focus on the things we can control. They are a very veteran football team and are well coached. Their strength is their offensive line and their running game.”

The matchup is coming to the Wildcats after a tough preseason so far. Both Fresno and BYU belong to the FBS, a higher division of college football than the FCS, to which WSU belongs. MSU will be the first FCS opponent for WSU.

“For us, those games are over,” said WSU safety Kela Marciel, concerning the preseason games against Fresno and BYU. “Those are learning games and they’re fun, but they’re over. For us, it’s a clean slate. We just have to focus on this week and on each game one at a time because every game is important.”

WSU will finally make its way home to Ogden on Saturday evening to show the Wildcat fans what it has to offer this season. Team members said they know they have an advantage in playing at home.

“The home crowd plays a big factor, knowing that there are people on your side that are cheering for you, and you have the noise . . . the altitude . . . and just knowing you’re at home and you’re comfortable and that it’s your turf,” Marciel said. “You always want to win at home . . . This is your field, and you don’t lose on your field.”

Marciel said he thinks the experience from the previous battles for the Wildcats shows they are capable of putting up a fight.

“We’re playing at home, so we have the advantage,” he said. “I feel that we’ve learned from the last two games and playing bigger teams that we can run with them, we can pass with them, we can play defense on them, and we can do a lot of things.”

Sears also acknowledged the excitement that comes from the team’s home opener, and expressed optimism for Saturday’s game.

“We are looking forward to the game this week,” he said, “and we are excited to play at home in front of our own crowd.”

The game will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It will be held in Stewart Stadium on WSU’s main campus.

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