Up next: Idaho State Bengals

Portland State football hosts Idaho State Saturday evening in the Vikings’ first of four games this season to be played on their temporary home turf at Hillsboro Stadium.

Portland State football hosts Idaho State Saturday evening in the Vikings’ first of four games this season to be played on their temporary home turf at Hillsboro Stadium.

Saturday’s game marks a series of firsts. Not only will it be the first time in a decade that Portland State will play a home game in Hillsboro, but it will also be the first game of Big Sky Conference play. In addition, it will be first-year head coach Nigel Burton’s premiere in front of a local crowd.

“We’re excited to have an opportunity to finally play in front of our own family, friends and fans,” Burton said in a media conference.

The Vikings are playing all home games this year in the 7,825-seat suburban stadium due to the current renovation of PGE Park, which seats nearly 20,000. They were similarly displaced when PGE Park was revamped in 2000 and though the suburbs are not the Vikings’ true home, Burton said he is trying to create the feeling of “a home away from home” at the facility.

“Hillsboro Stadium provides a unique atmosphere for our fans and our team because it is a smaller facility,” Burton said.

Below are details of this week’s matchup.


Records entering the game

Portland State enters the match with a 1-2 overall record, with both losses courtesy of Pac-10 opponents. The Vikings’ lone win came from a strong showing against

UC Davis, who is the favorite to win their conference.

Idaho State, meanwhile, is 1-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play. The Bengals have allowed each of their four opponents to score in the thirty-point range.


Last year’s meeting

The final score was 41-34, Idaho State. In a tense game in Pocatello, the Bengals pulled out a last-minute win. In the team’s final game of the season—and the last with head coach Jerry Glanville at the helm—the Vikings didn’t do themselves any favors. They committed four turnovers and allowed the Bengals to continue their winning drive with a 15-yard penalty after the Portland State defense had stopped Idaho State on third down.


Even stevens

Both teams seem to be on even footing at this point in the season. There are things to consider, such as Idaho State having played one more game than Portland State and

Portland State having faced two very difficult Pac-10 opponents, but the stats are eerily similar.


Scouting the Bengals

The Bengals have found themselves struggling throughout much of the past four years. In that time, they have racked up only six wins and have yet to win a road game. This season seems to be starting off slow for them as well, with the offense and defenses both struggling in their conference matchups.

The ace up their sleeve is the performance of their special teams. Wide receiver Tavoy Moore has proven his skill in kick and punt returns. He has racked up a touchdown return with each, and his 25.2-yard punt return average ranks second in the nation. Punter David Harrington is also topping the charts. Harrington is listed first in the nation with a

46.9-yard average.

“The unique thing that Idaho State brings is an unbelievable return aspect and special teams play,” Burton said. “They do a really good job there. We’re going to have to limit their ability to change the game, special teams-wise.”

The Bengals defense also has play-making ability. The Bengals’ top tackler, YEAR linebacker A.J. Storms, had 50 tackles on the season. By comparison, YEAR Manoa Latu is the Vikings’ top tackler with 25 tackles. Idaho State’s YEAR defensive end, Sean Rutten, has racked up four solo sacks so far this season, whereas the entire Vikings squad has come up with two.


Scouting the Vikings

The Vikings will need to contain the Idaho State’s special teams, something they should be up to doing. Though they lost to Oregon 69-0 two weeks ago, they did a tremendous job of containing what was then the nation’s top-ranked punt return team. The Ducks came in with a 43.6-yard return average, but only got 9.7 yards on seven attempts.

Zach Brown, Portland State’s big-legged sophomore kicker, has had a great start to his second year. He’s made 21 of 25 field goals so far in his career, and seven of nine this season. The only ones he has missed have been from distances of 50 yards out or greater. If it becomes as close of a game as it was last year, he could be instrumental to a Vikings’ win.

Junior quarterback Connor Kavanaugh needs to keep playing the clean game he has been playing. With an efficiency rating of 52.2 percent, he’s not making too many mistakes and he’s getting the ball out. His scrambling ability, statistically, makes him the third-best rusher on the team.

If the defense can shut down Idaho State’s ground attack, the game will be as good as won. When Idaho State played Northern Arizona last week, they were kept to just 37 yards rushing and lost the game. Both of the Bengals’ quarterbacks are freshmen, and with that mistakes seem inevitable.

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is set for 5:05 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium. It can be followed live on www.b2tv.com or heard on 970 AM.

Injury report

 Portland State senior quarterback Drew Hubel underwent surgery on his right shoulder last week and will redshirt the 2010 season, according to team media reports.

The surgery on Hubel’s throwing arm is described as minor, and stems from a dislocated shoulder he suffered last year during the Nov. 7 game against visiting Montana State. Hubel also had surgery during the offseason to mend a knee he injured last October.

 With 20 starts and 24 games played, Hubel has seen more game time than any other QB on the Viks’ roster but has not played this year. By redshirting this season, he will be eligible to return next year.