WSU looks to close out season with win

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Weer State University quarterback Mike Hoke hands the ball off to C.J. Tuckett during last week's game against Northern Arizona University. The Wildcats will take on Portland State University on Saturday, in Oregon.
On Saturday, the Weber State University football team will wrap up its season on the road, when it faces off against No. 25 Portland State University.

The Wildcats are coming off an emotional win against Northern Arizona University last week. It was Head Coach Ron McBride’s final home game, and he will finish his coaching career after the game against PSU. Linebacker Nick Webb said there is a lot of motivation to win this week for McBride.

“We wanted to win (last week against NAU),” Webb said, “but even more so now, since it’s his final game.”

In last week’s game, WSU running back C.J. Tuckett stole the show with 255 rushing yards and 407 total yards of offense. Tuckett will face a stern test this week against PSU, which has the best rush defense in the conference.

PSU has had a strong season up to this point, with a 7-3 record. The Vikings broke into the top 25 rankings this week for the first time since 2007 and will be looking to make a case for an at large bid into the playoffs with their eighth win of the season.

The Vikings have made an impressive turnaround from last year. Last season, PSU finished with a 2-9 record and finished in eighth place in the Big Sky Conference.

WSU Director of Football Operations Kamaal Ahmad said the Wildcats are expecting a tough test against a talented PSU team.

“They are a well coached team, and they make a lot of big plays,” Ahmad said. “It should be a great game.”

This season, PSU leads the Big Sky Conference in rushing offense, averaging 260.6 yards on the ground per game. The Vikings also rank second in the conference in scoring offense, with 32.9 points per game, and in rushing defense and total defense.  They also lead the Big Sky in time of possession at 32:51 and are second in the league in sacks allowed with nine on the season.

Senior quarterback Connor Kavanaugh is seventh in the league in total offense and eighth in passing, but also is a threat to run. He is third in the league in rushing at 102.8 yards per game.  He has rushed for 1,028 yards this season and is the only quarterback in Big Sky history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.  He has 1,932 career rushing yards, a Big Sky record for quarterbacks.

The Wildcats will also need to key in on PSU’s DeShawn Shead. Shead leads the league in kick return average at 26.2 yards per return.

WSU holds a 19-12 all-time record over the Vikings, and the Wildcats have won the last four meetings between the schools.  In games in Portland, the Vikings hold an 8-7 lead, but the ‘Cats have won the last two games.

Four years ago in Portland, Ore., the two teams played the highest-scoring Division I regulation game in college football history, with WSU winning 73-68.

This will be the final game of the season for the Wildcats and the final career game for McBride, who announced his retirement after more than 40 years of coaching.