An instate rivalry is coming to Stewart Stadium on Oct. 12, as the fourth-ranked Weber State University Wildcats will take on the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds in a Big Sky showdown. Since 1984, the two teams have met 26 times in what is called the Beehive Bowl between the two programs.
Coming into Oct. 12 night’s kickoff, both teams are 5-5 the last ten seasons, but the ’Cats hold an overall record of 18-8 in the school’s 26 year history. WSU plucked the Thunderbirds last year 31–18 in Cedar City on Nov. 10, 2018.
“There isn’t anything that can lead up to SUU,” senior defensive end Kawika Tupuola said. “Especially the history over the last few years.”
WSU is coming in to this game with an overall record of of 3–2 on a 2 game-winning streak, most recently over the University of Idaho (41–35) and the University of Northern Iowa (29–17).
The Wildcats’ two losses came at the hands of FBS teams and is currently 3-0 against FCS programs.
“Every year we know we are going to get their best shot. Our players love this game,” head coach Jay Hill said. “This rivalry is as big as it gets.”
The Wildcat offense has faced difficult opponents in previous weeks. Sophomore running back Josh Davis has rushed for a total of 243 yards, junior quarterback Jake Constantine is leading the team in passing with 419 yards and junior kicker Trey Tuttle is leading the team in scoring with 38 points, and 8–9 overall.
The ’Cats defense have also prevailed successful in recent matchups. Junior safety Preston Smith is leading the defense with a total of 31 tackles. Not far behind is junior linebacker Conner Mortensen with 30 tackles and senior defensive end Jonah Williams with 3 sacks.
“SUU is a good team. They’ve already played some of the better teams in the league,” Hill said. “I think they’re better than their record.”
The Thunderbirds are currently 1–5 and a record of 0–4 for away games. Their last two conference games have come up short of a victory, falling to Cal Poly (21–24) during their homecoming game and Portland State (31–52).
“They have a few wide receivers that have been very productive this year,” Hill said. “Running backs who run hard, and their o-linemen have been guys we’ve played in the past where they’ve done a great job.”
The T-birds have had valiant efforts from key players, including redshirt junior running back James Felila, who has rushed for a total of 225 yards; redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Helbig with 1,398 passing yards; sophomore running back Lance Lawson with 482 receiving yards; and sophomore defensive back Aaron Romero with 4 sacks.
“We’re feeling good about going against SUU’s defense,” Constantine said. “I think we’ll attack them; we keep pushing to get better.”
Homecoming celebrates the past and the present and coming home to WSU. Emotions run high leading up to this game every year, never knowing what to expect. Both teams have caused great upsets in years prior. SUU has found great success at Stewart Stadium. Since 2006, the T-birds have gone 4–1 in Ogden. WSU has come out on top the last two years in Cedar City, 30–13 in 2017 and 31–18 in 2018.
“It’s home game against our rival. It’s giving us an advantage,” Tupuola said. “It’s a well-known rival. The cheering is louder, and there’s nowhere else we’d want to play.”
Expectations are high for this Big Sky showdown. The stadium will be full of alumni, current students and fans celebrating WSU’s homecoming.
Kickoff is Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at Stewart Stadium. The Wildcats will take the field in a whiteout and are encouraging fans to help and wear white.