Football Welcomes Portland State For Homecoming
The two teams sport identical records as they are 1-4 on the season and 0-3 in Big Sky Conference action... Both squads are also riding three game losing streaks... The Bears are 1-5 all-time against Portland State and have lost the last five... Northern Colorado is 35-11 all-time in Homecoming games and looking for a two-game winning streak during the festivities after defeating Idaho State 29-9 a year ago... This will be just the third meeting in Greeley between the two teams... In 1979, the Bears defeated the Vikings 21-20 on Homecoming and lost 31-21 in 2007 at Nottingham Field... Neither Portland State nor Northern Colorado have any players from the opposing home state and have no high schools in common... In each of the last two years against the Vikings, the Bears have scored 21 points... In three games against the Vikings, Stephen Michon has two of his four career interceptions with 26 return yards (of 38 in his career)... Junior John Eddy has also enjoyed playing the Vikings as two of his 10 career sacks have come against Portland State (8.0 total yards lost).
For Northern Colorado its not a telephone company, its Alex Thompson and touchdowns. The senior wide receiver tallied the second-highest single-game total with three touchdowns against Northern Arizona on Saturday, bringing his career total to seven. Against the Lumberjacks, he also had 12 receptions, which ties for the second-most in a single game for a career-best 164 yards. He now has 69 career receptions in 1.5 seasons, needing just 24 to appear on the school's career charts. He would be one of only two two-year players to rank among the top 10 at Northern Colorado.
Something Has To Give
Both Northern Colorado and Portland State are on three game losing streaks this season. The Vikings have also lost eight straight road games, dating back to their win at Nottingham Field in 2007.
Redshirt freshman John Burnley can be counted on to aid the Bears in field positioning on special teams. In seven kickoff returns, he has advance the ball more than 20 yards in six returns, including a high of 32 in the opener at Kansas. Burnley is averaging 24.4 yards per kickoff return, which ranks third in the Big Sky this season.
Battle Of The Pass
Portland State enters the game with the best pass offense in the Big Sky and second in the nation, averaging 339.2 yards per game while Northern Colorado leads the conference allowing just 187.2 passing yards per game.
Receiver Alex Thompson has caught at least one pass in nine straight games for the Bears and in 15 of his 16 in an NC uniform. The only game in which Thompson did not make a catch was last year against Montana. He has caught at least four passes in each game this season and in eight straight.
Entering the game against Northern Arizona, the Bears were just 17-for-55 on third downs (.309). Against the Lumberjacks, Northern Colorado converted 13-of-23 third downs (.565), including all three in the first quarter.
Northern Colorado is 7-4 all-time in games played on Oct. 10 and this will be the third straight time the Bears have played on this date and it has been Homecoming. In 1992, NC defeated Morningside 21-9, while in 1998 -- the last game on 10/10 -- they won a 34-3 contest against South Dakota to move to 6-0 on the season.
Scouting Portland State
The Vikings sport an identical record to the Bears at 1-4 and 0-3 in Big Sky play. The two teams have yet to have any common opponents on the year. PSU leads the league and ranks second in the nation in passing offense, averaging 339.2 yards per game. Portland State has a -10 turnover margin on the season, the worst mark in the Big Sky. Junior quarterback Drew Hubel leads the league in total offense (327.4) and passing average (334.0), while junior receiver Ray Fry averages a league-best 109.6 yards per game and senior Aaron Woods averages 202 all-purpose yards per game, with 604 of his 1,010 in kickoff returns.
Sophomore punter Cameron Kaman pinned Northern Arizona inside their 20-yard line in four of six punts on Saturday. He has now pinned the opponent inside the 20 on 8-of-32 punts.
Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener needs 94 more yards for 1,000 this season. Last year, Waggener became the second-fastest quarterback at NC to get to 1,000 yards, doing so in the third quarter of the fourth game. He currently ranks 10th on the NC career charts with 3,452 yards, needing 407 to take over ninth.
A Win Would...
- give the Bears two wins on the season and their first Big Sky victory of the year.
- snap a five-game losing streak against Portland State.
- be the second-straight win on Homecoming.
Schools From Oregon
Northern Colorado is 1-5 all-time against teams from Oregon, facing only Portland State.
The Bears are even with their opponent in turnover margin this season, with eight giveaways and takeaways. That mark is fourth in the Big Sky this year.
On Saturday against Montana State, three Northern Colorado defensive players registered double figures in tackles. It is the first time since Nov. 26, 2005 against UC Davis the Bears had three players with 10 or more tackles. Junior cornerback Korey Askew led the team with a career-best 11 tackles, while senior safety Stephen Michon and junior linebacker Matt King each had 10 stops.
Despite only having 3.0 tackles for loss against Northern Arizona on Saturday, the Bears still rank second in the league in conference games only in tackles for loss with 25. Eastern Washington leads the league with 28. In two of three league contests, the Bears have recorded double figures in tackles for loss, tallying 12.0 against Montana State and 10.0 at Eastern Washington.
The key to Northern Colorado's success might be the timing of the first score. When the Bears are on the scoreboard first, they are 4-8 since head coach Scott Downing took over the program. When the opponent scores first, NC is 0-26. The Bears are also 0-22 when they trail after the first quarter but 3-6 when they lead after the first 15 minutes of play.
And 1 Makes 29
Senior safety Stephen Michon has the longest active starting streak on the team at 28 games, almost double any other player on the squad. The next longest streak is 16 games by Martin Awachie, Dominique Ceja, Max Hewitt, Cameron Kaman and Bryan Waggener.
He's Very Active
Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener currently ranks on the NCAA FCS active career leaders list in passing attempts per game (6th, 34.4/gm), passing yards per game (11th, 215.8) and passing completions per game (7th, 19.6). Sophomore punter Cameron Kaman also ranks 10th in average per punt among career active leaders (39.91).
Notes From NAU Game
- For the first time since 2004, a Northern Colorado player caught 10 or more passes in a game. Alex Thompson led the Bears with 12 catches for 164 yards. The last time a student-athlete had 10 or more was when Vincent Jackson caught 10 passes against Florida Atlantic on Oct. 16, 2004.
- Thompson also became the first player since 2006 to score three or more touchdowns in a game. The last was Andre Wilson against Western Illinois on Sept. 23, 2006.
- Thompson's 12 pass receptions ties for the second-most in a single game in school history. Two other players, Barry West and Kim Boerema have accomplished the feat with Boerema doing so four times in 1985.
- Senior kicker Michael York is now seventh in school history with 18 made field goals. York made field goals of 19 and 34 yards in the fourth quarter.
- The 292 passing yards by quarterback Bryan Waggener is a season-high for the senior. His 28 completions is the second-highest total in his career behind the 31 against Texas State from 2008.
- The four forced fumbles by the defense is the most since the team began the transition to Division I. Five times previously the Bears had forced three fumbles.
- Junior linebacker John Eddy forced two fumbles in the game, bringing his career total to three against the Lumberjacks and three total.
Defense To Offense
Northern Colorado has forced at least one turnover in 19 of the team's last 20 games against FCS competition. Over those 19 games, the Bears have forced 27 fumbles and picked off 26 passes.
It's An Honor
Junior running back Andre Harris was named the Big Sky Conference offensive player of the week after rushing for 152 yards in the Bears' 31-12 victory over San Diego. Harris averaged 7.6 yards per carry, scoring two touchdowns. Harris also caught four passes for 37 yards, giving him 189 all-purpose yards. His 152 rushing yards is the most at Northern Colorado since Andre Wilson rushed for 158 against Western Illinois on Sept. 23, 2006.
Senior Ryan Lutz has tallied 108 punt return yards this season, already surpassing the team totals from 2007 (77 yds) and 2008 (74 yds). Lutz currently ranks third in the Big Sky averaging 7.2 yards per return.
Hitting The Mark
- Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener passed 3,500 career total offensive yards against Northern Arizona and now has 3,558.
- Senior cornerback Quincy Wofford recorded his 100th career tackle with his final stop at Northern Arizona.
What To Look For
- Junior Max Hewitt tallied his seventh career interception against San Diego and now has 98 return yards in his career, needing just two more for 100.
- Hewitt is also just two tackles shy of 150 for his career.
- Junior Matt King needs just eight more tackles to match his season total of 44 from each of his first two years.
- Senior Alex Thompson is 88 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards for his career.
- Senior Bryan Waggener is just 48 yards shy of 3,500 passing yards for his career.
- Senior Quincy Wofford is now just 38 yards shy of 500 all-purpose yards in his career.
- Junior Andre Harris needs just 54 yards for 500 all-purpose yards this season.
- Senior kicker Michael York is seven points shy of scoring 100 in his career.
Several Bears received preseason attention from various publications. Senior quarterback Bryan Waggener was named a 2009 Consensus Draft Services Preseason All-American Honorable Mention while senior kicker Michael York was named to the Phil Steele Preseason All-Big Sky Conference First Team and junior linebacker John Eddy was named to the Second Team.
Bears Story Lines
- Redshirt freshman Darin McDonald joins the Bears team after a short stint at Wyoming. Prior to that, he spent three seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league baseball system.
- The Bears return all eight on the depth chart among defensive linemen from a year ago.
- Three players, safety Ryan Lutz, defensive back C.J. Stemo and kicker Michael York have all received their bachelor's degrees and have begun work on their masters.
- Northern Colorado athletics ranks first in the Big Sky Conference in graduation success rate, with last year's rate at 93%.
- Two upperclassmen on the team, junior kicker Zak Bigelow and junior offensive lineman Tim McGraw both have perfect 4.00 grade point averages and are in the Monfort College of Business.
- A total of 13 student-athletes were named to the Monfort College of Business Dean's Citation List and five were from football. Junior Zak Bigelow, junior Matt McDonnell, junior Tim McGraw, sophomore Chuks Nweke and senior Michael York were all honored.
- Junior wide receiver Brandon Smith, senior offensive lineman Ryan Kemp, senior tight end Andrew Emmerling and senior running back DC Wilson are out for the remainder of the season with injuries. James Zapp (OL), Nick Candler (OL) and Dominic Gunn (WR) are also currently out with injuries.
This season, head coach Scott Downing decided to have a council of players who would lead the team and take more of a leadership role instead of the more traditional 2-3 captains. Those players, elected by their teammates are: junior Zak Bigelow, freshman John Burnley, freshman Cameron Friend, senior Chris Jones, senior Ryan Kemp, senior Ryan Lutz, junior Tim McGraw, sophomore Chuks Nweke, sophomore Dylan Orms, sophomore Colby Riggins, junior James Schrenk, senior C.J. Stemo, senior Thomas Stuemky, freshman Curtis Truett and junior Michael Van Portfliet.