For the second-straight season, the Weber State University football team will finish its season against the Idaho State University Bengals. The Wildcats will host ISU at Stewart Stadium at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“We have a little rivalry here with Idaho State,” said WSU head coach Jody Sears. “Obviously, it’s our big rivalry game. We are looking forward to it. Losing streaks and winning streaks come and go. We’ve just got to keep forging ahead and raising the standard.”
ISU (3-8) is coming off of a 59-13 loss to Brigham Young University. The game was the fifth consecutive loss for the Bengals and their eighth loss in nine games. ISU also views the game as a rivalry game.
“For us, it is a matter of making a rebound,” said ISU head coach Mike Kramer. “We play a rivalry game against a team we haven’t had any success with for a long period of time, and right now all of our attention is on winning a game in Utah next week.”
The Wildcats are coming off of a 42-6 loss to the University of Montana. The Wildcats committed six turnovers in the game and were completely shut down in the second half. Sears emphasized the difficulties of having a young team in his weekly conference call.
“It’s the lack of consistency and the turnovers,” he said. “We go up to Montana last weekend and we turn the ball over three times in the first half and we are only down eight points. I would have taken that every day of the week. Then we came out and turned it over three times in the second half. That’s probably the most frustrating thing.”
The Bengals rank 10th in the nation in passing yards per game with 317 yards and second in the Big Sky Conference. ISU quarterback Justin Arias is second in the nation in completions per game. Wide receiver Luke Austin is also ranked in the top 10 in several receiving categories.
“I can’t take anything away from Coach Kramer,” Sears said. “They are slinging the ball around the yard and running it a little bit. They are playing good defense. I’m looking forward to tangling up with them this weekend.”
The Wildcats have won the last 10 meetings between the two teams. WSU defeated ISU last year by a score of 40-14. The Wildcats dominated the time of possession in the game, racking up 417 rushing yards and 525 yards of total offense. The Wildcats may have more difficulty running against an improved front seven. Sears said ISU is not the same team it was for the last two years.
“It’s very obvious that Coach Kramer has done a tremendous job with those guys,” Sears said. “We’ve had some success, but if we don’t take care of our turnovers and executing and making tackles instead of missing tackles, we are going to be in for trouble. That’s been the thorn in our side all year.”
Both teams are looking to end their losing streaks, and Sears said it’s possible the rivalry could provide some extra motivation for WSU, even in the tough spot the team has been in for two months. But he said the team’s preparation has been the same every week.
“Absolutely that is true. But I think that losing and winning is a state of mind. I really like the way that our guys have prepared each week, week in and week out, regardless of our record. I can’t be more pleased with the resolve that they’ve shown.”