Junior quarterback Chris Brown is coming off a record-breaking performance, rushing for 226 yards in the 41-21 win vs. Montana. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

Nick Larson

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Despite a rocky start to the 2014 season, the Cal Poly football team has dominated the field as of late.

The Mustangs dropped three of their first four contests, including a tough Big Sky Conference game at Northern Arizona. After the loss to the Lumberjacks, the Mustangs have won four straight games, bringing their overall record up to 5-3 (4-1 Big Sky).

Last week, then-No. 7 Montana came to Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The Grizzlies were previously undefeated in conference play, but were unable to put up a fight, losing to the Mustangs 41-21.

“I think in that game we were going to have to play our best four quarters,” head coach Tim Walsh said. “I think we probably played our best four quarters of the season against a team that we needed to do it.”

Junior quarterback Chris Brown has been a catalyst for Cal Poly’s offense. He locked down the starting job late in the preseason, but Brown has proven he deserves it. Against the Grizzlies he broke his own single-game rushing record, gaining 226 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while also adding another touchdown via the pass.

Brown shared both the Root Sports Big Sky and Sports Network national awards this week and also was selected by College Sports Madness as its Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week. College Football Performance Awards gave Brown national honorable mention recognition as well.

The Mustangs rank first in Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rushing offense this season, averaging more than 347 yards per game. The Grizzlies had the No. 1 ranked defense in the Big Sky until the Mustangs dropped 41 points on them.

This weekend the Mustangs will face an even tougher test when they host first-place Montana State (6-2, 4-0).

“They are going to come out and play physical,” Brown said. “As long as our guys just have the same mentality, which is staying focused and be fundamentally sound and be disciplined on offense and defense, we’ll be able to win this Saturday.”

The Bobcats have cruised through the Big Sky so far, defeating all four opponents they’ve faced so far, including a 77-point outburst against UC Davis.

“Offensively, (Montana State) presents a lot of problems for everybody,” Walsh said. “They keep you off-balance, so you have to do some things to slow them in every way, try to keep yourself under control so you don’t make mistakes.”

The Bobcats’ offense has notched more than 50 points on four occasions this year, largely due to their star quarterback Dakota Prukop. He leads the Bobcats with a team-high 668 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, in addition to an impressive 2019 yards and 17 touchdowns in the air.

“Their young quarterback is playing as well as anyone in the country probably,” Walsh added. “What he’s doing with his feet, what he’s doing with his arm and his mind, he’s putting them in good situations.”

The quarterback battle will be one to watch, as both offenses are fueled by their signature callers who are both threats with their arms and legs.

“It’s not just the Chris Brown show,” Walsh added. “Although he’s the catalyst, he has the ball in his hands, he makes a lot of the decisions that we have, but we have Brandon Howe, Kori Garcia, Chris Nichols when he’s healthy. There’s a lot of guys that are touching the football, making things happen.”

The Homecoming game against No. 8 Montana State kicks-off on Nov. 1 at 6:05 p.m at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

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