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After a blowout loss on the road, Weber State University’s football team will return home to host California Polytechnic State University, ranked No. 20 in the nation, on Friday night.
It will be the ninth meeting between the two teams, and WSU’s first Friday-night game. The Mustangs are coming into the matchup with a 4-0 overall record and are 2-0 in Big Sky Conference games. Cal Poly will be the third nationally ranked team the Wildcats have played this year.
Head Coach Jody Sears said he knows Cal Poly is a good team and will challenge the Wildcats.
“We have another terrific football team coming in this week in Cal Poly, and we will have our hands full,” Sears said. “They are a very talented and well-coached team.”
The Wildcats have struggled this season, losing their first five games of the year. Sears said that if the team is going to improve, it will be through hard work on the practice field.
“The only way we can get through this is to fight our way out of it,” Sears said. “It goes back to fundamentals, and we have to get back to doing those things.”
Cal Poly, a first-year member of the Big Sky Conference, started the season out strong with a blowout win over the University of San Diego. The Mustangs took a 41-14 win over the Toreros in a game which the Mustangs never trailed. Cal Poly also defeated FBS school the University of Wyoming and the University of California, Davis.
The Mustangs are ranked third in the nation in rushing yards, averaging 326 yards per game on the ground. They also are leading the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 18 points per game. The Mustangs are also second in the league in turnover margins.
On the flip side, WSU is at the bottom of the Big Sky in scoring offense with an average of 16.6 points per game. The Wildcats are 11th in the Big Sky in turnover margin with -1.2. The ’Cats have committed 12 turnovers this year. In last week’s game, the Wildcats committed a season-high five turnovers. WSU is the only Big Sky team without a win.
While the Wildcats have struggled this season, there are some bright spots in the team. WSU running back C.J. Tuckett, the Wildcats’ leading rusher, is nearing 1,000 career rushing yards, needing 64 more yards to become the 27th Wildcat to rack up 1,000 career rushing yards.
WSU will be going into the game without two of its receivers, who are both out with injuries. Chase Nakamura broke his left arm in the game over the weekend. WSU will also be missing junior receiver Shaydon Kehano. Kehano broke his leg in the Wildcats’ home opener against McNeese State University.
The last time Cal Poly and WSU met, in 2009, the Wildcats easily beat the Mustangs, 47-17. Overall, the Wildcats hold a 5-3 advantage. The Wildcats have won the last two meetings.
Following the game against Eastern Washington University earlier this year, WSU defensive captain Anthony Morales said he thinks the team is close to getting a win, but it needs to execute on fundamentals.
“We’ve proved that we can play with anybody,” Morales said. “. . . It’s about being consistent, doing the little things right every play. I know we can beat anybody we play. We’ve just got to keep working hard. It’s the little things. Every play counts.”
Following Friday’s game, WSU will head on the road to take on California State University, Sacramento, then head south to face an in-state rival on Oct. 20 in Cedar City. WSU won’t return home until Nov. 3 when it hosts the University of Montana.