When Cal Poly (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky Conference) clashes with No. 7 Eastern Washington (2-2, 1-0 Big Sky) this Saturday on the red inferno gridiron that defines Roos Field in Cheney, Washington, fans will likely be in for a high scoring affair.
Eastern Washington likes to throw the ball. A lot. In fact, they lead all of FCS in passing yards per game by a wide margin. The Eagles pass the ball 466.3 yards per game on average. That’s more than 80 yards per game more than Brown University, which ranks second in FCS in passing.
Leading the way for the Eagles is junior quarterback Jordan West. Operating for Eagles’ spread offense, West airs the ball out frequently and throws for an average of 385.8 yards per game. West’s yards per game total leads FCS, even though he’s thrown the ball over 100 times less than the nation’s second leading passer. On top of West’s accolades, he’s also thrown 3 interceptions alongside his 15 touchdowns.
West’s favorite target, junior wide receiver Cooper Kupp, leads the FCS in receiving yards per game with 189.8 yards per game. Kupp is flanked by junior wide receiver Kendrick Bourneand and sophomore wide receiver Nic Sblendorio, who are ranked 12th and 35th in the nation in receiving yards per game, respectively.
On the other side of the field, saying that Cal Poly likes to run the ball is an enormous understatement. The Mustangs lead all of FCS with 363.8 team rushing yards per game.
The Mustangs hold two players in the Top 15 in the country in rushing yards per game. Sophomore fullback Joe Protheroe, who was out last week with a lingering concussion, is 13th in the nation in rushing yards per game at 108.3 yards per game. Senior quarterback Chris Brown averages 105.8 rushing yards per game, ranking 15th in the FCS.
For inquisitive minds, Cal Poly’s passing attack ranks last of the 123 FCS teams in the nation. Similarly, Eastern Washington’s rushing attack ranks 88th of those 123 teams.
As if two dynamic offenses going head to head in a Big Sky Conference matchup wasn’t enough, both teams statistically possess shoddy defenses.
Only four teams are worse against the pass than the Mustangs, who rank 119th in the country in passing yards allowed per game, giving up 313 yards per game. Though on the surface the stats are atrocious, the Mustangs have forced 10 turnovers this season, marking them at 20th in the FCS.
Eastern Washington will likely struggle to stop Cal Poly’s running game as well. Their rushing defense gives up 313 yards per game, good for 122nd in the country.
In a matchup that’s sure to provide a highlight reel of offensive glimmer, defense will likely be the key to the game. As two dynamic offenses take on two struggling defenses, the real questions is, who can stop whom?