Up next: Northern Colorado Bears

Portland State football is set to host the Northern Colorado Bears Saturday for the Vikings’ final home game of the season.

Portland State football is set to host the Northern Colorado Bears Saturday for the Vikings’ final home game of the season. Here’s a taste of what to look for in this week’s game.

Records entering the game

Both Portland State and Northern Colorado each have one conference win, both against hapless Idaho State, and both teams have two total wins on the season. The Viks have a record of 2-7 overall and 1-5 in the conference, while the Bears have played one more game and are 2-8 overall and 1-6 in conference. 

This will be the last game of the season for the Bears and the last game in front of a friendly crowd for the Viks. The Bears are in a similar position to the Vikings—in that they are on a serious losing streak. The Viks have lost five straight and the Bears have dropped the last seven. 

Last year’s matchup

In what would turn out the be the Vikings’ only conference win last year, they beat the Bears 23-18 on a snowy day in Greeley, Colo. Despite being outscored in two quarters and tying for points in the fourth, the Viks functioned like a well-oiled machine. 

The ground game was there, racking up 109 yards. The passing game was present, tallying up 240 yards. The defense was disrupting, causing a fumble and interception, both by cornerback DeShawn Shead. Finally, special teams were in focus, with kicker Zach Brown going three for three including a monster for 50 yards in the driving snow. 

Senior Day

Since it is the last home game for the Viks, the team’s seniors will be honored for their contributions prior to kickoff. Among the honorees is wide receiver Ray Fry, who had a huge day against Northern Colorado last year with 101 receiving yards.

Quarterback Tygue Howland will also be honored. Howland is the presumed starter this week due to Connor Kavanaugh’s injury. This is Howland’s sixth season playing for the Viks, and he has been a model student and athlete. He has been a Student Ambassador for Portland State for three years and was honored in 2008 with an Academic All-Big Sky selection. 

Scouting the Bears

The Bears have a leaky offensive line. They have allowed 33 sacks of their quarterback, Dylan Orms. Their running game is only averaging 121.1 yards per game. The passing offense is dangerous, though. When Orms gets time to throw, he is completing 54 percent of his passes. 

Orms throws most of those to wide receiver Jace Davis. He is the first-ranked receiver in the conference, averaging 91.2 yards per game, 10 more yards than the second-ranked receiver. 

Defense has been a sticking point for the Bears, just as it has been for the Viks. They are surrendering 31.1 points per game, 169.3 rushing yards per game, and 221 passing yards per game. They are allowing the second-most first downs in the conference. 

This being the last game of the season for the Bears, it seems likely they will be playing with a little extra oomph and might come across as better than they are in the stats. 

Scouting the Viks

This should be a winnable game for the Viks, much as it was last year. A win in this game would guarantee that they wouldn’t finish last in the conference, which would be a small victory but an important one in this season of change.

All season long the running game has been the Viks’ bread and butter. That shouldn’t change this week. Without Connor Kavanaugh, the Bears will know that junior running back Cory McCaffrey is the man to contain. As such, the Viks will need to get some extra legs this week. 

Hopefully they will come from someone other than quarterback Howland. Last week, he had a miserable running game. As the team’s second leading rusher in that game, Howland tried to take off 15 times and netted only 29 yards. Someone else needs to step up and take the running game one step further. 

The Viking defense did a good job of picking up the ground game last week. They will need to be more active during the first half in this game than they were last week. The secondary will also have to stiffen up. Sacramento State exposed the Viking backfield last week and it seems natural that Northern Colorado would have studied what the Hornets did. 

Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium. The game can be watched online at b2tv.com or heard on KXFD-AM 970 or at www.970.am. ?