Portland State returns home this weekend to face Montana State after suffering a tough loss to the Div. I-AA top-ranked Montana Grizzlies. The Vikings (3-4, 2-2 conference) defeated the Bobcats (4-4, 3-1 conference) last year 31-24.
Last season’s victory, won in the final seconds, was the Viks’ seventh conference win with the Bobcats falling to 0-6 and eventually finishing a painful 0-11. The Vikings have won the last four meetings with Montana State and average 39.5 points a game against the team.
This year’s surprising 3-1 Bobcats have a big name running back, Ryan Johnson. Johnson has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season, averaging just under 130 yards a game and a touchdown in each. Quarterback Tyler Thomas has thrown for 1,543 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games.
“Ryan Johnson and the offensive line play extremely aggressively. Like most teams they will pound it at us on the ground, try to keep it out of our hands and minimize our opportunities,” coach Tim Walsh stated in a press release.
Montana State will attempt to keep the ball out of the Vikings’ hands, but PSU’s passing offense ranks third in the nation and quarterback Juston Wood ranks fourth in total offense. Wood leads the Big Sky in passing yards per game, total offense and passing efficiency. Receiver Terry Charles is ranked sixth in receptions.
The Bobcats defense has improved this season, allowing 365 yards a game. And that statistic includes a 695-yard game against Pac-10 powerhouse 7-1 Washington State Cougars. The MSU defense has forced 16 turnovers and 21 sacks. The Bobcat defense has also put points on the board. They have combined with the special teams unit for seven touchdowns.
The Vikings host Montana State this Saturday, kickoff is at 6:05 p.m. at PGE Park.