Portland State football has found a paradoxical opponent this week. The Vikings will play the first of their last two home games, against the Weber State Wildcats, on Saturday, Nov. 8. It appears that one team’s weakness is another team’s strength.
The Viking men have been on the road for the better half of the season, but now the team has a couple more chances to show the home crowd what they are really made of. With a season record of 5-4, the team is not too impressive. However, if they get things together in the next two weeks, they may still have a chance at a winning season.
Although it may not have been proven in last week’s 30-20 loss to Idaho State, the Vikings are working towards their fifth strait winning season. Unfortunately, this week the Vikings will be facing a team armed with two of the Big Sky Conference’s top men.
On offense, the Wildcats are supported by tailback Nick Cournos. Averaging almost 125 rushing yards per game, Cournos is sure to be the itch that Portland State’s defense can’t scratch. Leading the Big Sky with 1,122 rushing yards this season, Weber State’s tailback has claimed seven touchdowns for his team.
Defensively, the Wildcats are backed by linebacker Matt McFadden, who is No. 1 in the Big Sky for tackles. McFadden averages 16 tackles a game and has made eight pass interruptions this season. With 114 total tackles on the season, McFadden is known to plow down any opponent standing in the way of a Weber State win.
Although the Wildcats lead the series against the Vikings 14-9, the two teams have gone half and half in their past 10 match ups. Additionally, Portland State has an edge up on the Wildcats when it comes to air strikes. The Vikings have held a consistently strong passing game this season, playing only two games with less than 200 yards.
Viking quarter back Joe Wiser averages at least 250 yards passing per game. Essentially, Wiser is backed by the second-best pass defense in the Big Sky Conference. Portland State’s defense has let only one team, Idaho State, walk away from a competition with more than 300 yards passing.
The Vikings can pass, but they seem to have a problem with running. In their last conference game, they racked up an astonishingly low 47 yards rushing.
Weber State, on the other hand, appears to be the yin next to the Vikings’ yang. While the Wildcats only managed to scrape up 69 passing yards in their last conference game, they made up for it with 306 yards in ground coverage.
The Vikings will use their passing efficiency to outplay the Wildcats. Hopefully, Portland’s pass defense will have what it takes to block the long runs when these two teams take the field. If the Vikings can find a way to stop the Wildcats’ rushing game, they will definitely have the upper hand throughout the game. The game kicks off tomorrow at 6 p.m. in PGE Park.