No. 7 Eagles Return to Greeley for First Time Since 2010 Escape

Although both teams have been on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of wins and losses in recent years, Bears have been a handful and are riding momentum after 29-point victory

Complete Weekly Release in .pdf format


2015 Eagle Football

#7 Eastern Washington University "Eagles"
versus
University of Northern Colorado "Bears"

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 • 12:35 p.m. Pacific
Nottingham Field (8,500) • Greeley, Colorado


EWU Coach: Beau Baldwin (Central Washington '96)
School Record: 71-27/48-11 Big Sky Conference (8th Season)
Career Record: 81-30 (9th Season -- was 10-3 at CWU in 2007, 6-5 at EWU in 2008, 8-4 in 2009, 13-2 in 2010, 6-5 in 2011, 11-3 in 2012 and 12-3 in 2013)
2015: 4-2/3-0 Big Sky
2014: 11-3/7-1 Big Sky (OUTRIGHT CHAMPIONS; FCS Playoffs)
Last Game: #8 EWU 45, Idaho State 28 (Oct. 17 in Pocatello, Idaho)
TV:
None.
Webcast:
http://www.watchbigsky.com
Radio:
700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 25th season calling the play-by-play, with analysis handled by Paul Sorensen. Broadcasts begin one hour prior to kickoff and include an expanded post-game show.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com.
Radio iPhone App: Search for "700 ESPN" and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats/unco/football
Weekly Coaches Show: Mondays at 6 p.m. at the "Impulse Club" at Northern Quest Resort & Casino, with video highlights and commentary by head  coach Beau Baldwin at 5:30 p.m. . . .  700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for "Spokane Radio" and download app).
Watch Parties: Consult EWU social media outlets for details the Friday before games. Those who may carry EWU games include "Epic" at Northern Quest Casino and Resort in Airway Heights and the Swinging Doors in Spokane.

The wins and losses ledger may be lopsided, but most of the meetings have been anything but that. And momentum is definitely on the side of the Bears.

The seventh-ranked Eastern Washington University football team makes its second road trip in as many weeks when it plays at upset-minded Northern Colorado this Saturday (Oct. 24) in Greeley, Colo.

The game kicks off at 12:35 p.m. Pacific time at Nottingham Field, which has the only natural grass field in the league. The game is not televised, but is available via watchbigsky.com. Fans may also listen to the game on 700-AM ESPN and via the web at www.700espn.com, with pre-game coverage starting one hour prior to kickoff and the broadcasts featuring an expanded post-game show.

Northern Colorado is riding high after a 56-27 home romp past UC Davis last week in a game UNC led 42-3 at halftime. That helped the Bears improve to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the league, with their other conference victory coming against Sacramento State one game earlier when they won 27-20 by kicking two field goals, returning two fumbles for scores and having a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD. Their setbacks have come against Southern Utah (30-3) and Weber State (38-17), which are a collective 6-1 in league play thus far.

"Obviously, they have a lot of momentum going," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "There are some other teams in the Big Sky you can say the same thing. We know that every week we are going to be in a crazy dogfight. Across the country there is so much more parity and coaches across the board do a great job recruiting and coaching. We can definitely say that about the Big Sky, and specifically Northern Colorado. It's going to be a challenge for us to go down there and try to earn a road win." 

Since Northern Colorado joined the Big Sky Conference in 2006, the Bears have won just 13 league games while the Eagles have won 57. Overall, the Eagles are at 83 victories and UNC has 22, and EWU has won all seven of the head-to-head matchups.

"They might be surprising some people and fan bases of other teams, but it doesn't surprise us," said Baldwin. "Coach (Earnest) Collins is getting more and more of his guys in the program, and they are understanding his culture. They've done a great job and found different ways to win too. We saw them explode and score a lot of points last week, and they found a way to win against Sac State without scoring an offensive touchdown. They are tough-minded and they do a lot of things well."

Three of EWU's wins over UNC since 2007 have come by 10 points or less, including one possession wins in 2014 and in 2010. Last year's 26-18 home victory was a fight to the end for the Eagles, who needed an interception by Victor Gamboa in EWU territory with 2:02 left to stop a potential game-tying drive.

Even more dramatic was a 35-28 EWU victory in 2010 -- the last time to two teams faced each other in Greeley. Northern Colorado had a seven-point lead and the ball with inside of eight minutes left, but Eastern scored twice in the final 3:08 to pull out the win. An interception at the EWU 21-yard line clinched the victory for the Eagles, who would go on to win the national championship.

Eastern is now 4-2 on the season with a four-game winning streak, but the first three wins came by a total of just 14 points. The Eagles followed that with a convincing 45-28 win at Idaho State, in which EWU played its most complete game of the season. It's no surprise that the 17-point winning margin was its largest of the year.

The Eagles are leading the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing (406.0 per game) and fifth in total offense (530.5), but have also been impressive elsewhere in recent games. The Eagles had a special teams touchdown last week versus ISU on a 76-yard Cooper Kupp punt return, and Eastern's defense forced four turnovers. The Eagles have outscored their three league opponents 28-7 in the third quarter and 57-21 overall in the second half.

Ranked for the 52nd-straight time, Eastern is up a spot to seventh in this week's STATS FCS Top 25 poll, and are up seven positions since beginning the season 0-2. Eastern is also No. 7 in the coaches poll.

 
 

Team Game Notes

* Having dropped from sixth to 14th in the STATS Top 25 poll after successive losses to open the year, Eastern has been as high as seventh since then and is currently seventh. In all, four of EWU's 10 FCS opponents are currently in the STATS poll, including Portland State (#14), Montana (#19), Montana State (#21) and Northern Iowa (#22). The Eagles have now been ranked in The Sports Network Poll 52-consecutive times, having entered 2015 with a streak of 44-straight. Eastern has spent time at No. 1 in four of the last five seasons (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010), and was high as second in 2013. In this week's coaches poll, Eastern is also ranked eighth.

* Cooper Kupp can certainly find ways to put points on the board for the Eastern Washington University football team. In the process of scoring his 49th, 50th and 51st touchdowns as an Eagle – and also throwing a TD pass as well – the junior wide receiver/punt returner has been selected by the Big Sky Conference as Special Teams Player of the Week. In addition, he received national honors as the College Football Performance Awards National FCS Performer of the Week and earned honorable mention FCS Offensive Player of the Week honors from STATS. After catching two touchdown passes and even throwing for one earlier in the game, Kupp scored the only points in the third quarter of EWU's 45-28 win over Idaho State with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was the second of his career, having also returned one 67 yards for a score against Montana last November. Kupp, who has averaged a TD reception for every 5.3 catches in his career, now has two punt return touchdowns in just 17 returns. Kupp's 15.5 career average per punt return (with two touchdowns) is currently ahead of the school record of 13.4 owned by Eric Kimble (2002-05). Kupp has 4,421 career all-purpose yards to rank fourth in school history, but is well behind Kimble's total of 5,934. Including two punt return touchdowns, Kupp has 51 total scores as an Eagle to rank three behind Kimble's school record of 54. Kupp finished with 14 receptions – the second-most in his career and No. 3 in school history – against Idaho State for 161 yards and TD receptions of 9 and 29 yards from Jordan West. Kupp, whose younger brother Ketner Kupp had an interception and six tackles in the victory, also passed 24 yards to West for a touchdown in the first quarter.

* The Eagles are 30-3 in their last 33 Big Sky games since a 0-2 start in 2011. Eastern has won 20 of its last 21 league games, and until an Oct. 25, 2014, loss at Northern Arizona, EWU had won 14 in a row.

* Eastern has won eight Big Sky Conference titles – 1992, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – but is coming off the school's first three-peat as a league member. However, the Eagles won three-straight Evergreen Conference titles from 1965-67 and again from 1947-50. The 1947 title actually came in the final season of the Washington Intercollegiate Conference (Winco), and prior to that EWU won four-straight titles in the Tri-Normal League from 1934-37.

* Eastern leads FCS in passing yards (406.0 per game) and completion percentage (71.0 percent). The Eagles are also second in passing efficiency (180.95), fifth in total offense (530.5) and ninth in scoring offense (41.2) after leading FCS a year ago with a 44.1 average. Eastern's 526-yard passing effort at Northern Iowa on Sept. 12 broke the school record of 486 set twice against Montana – Oct. 4, 1986, and Sept. 17, 1994.

* It's had been awhile since the Eagles played such a nailbiter, but EWU's rally against Cal Poly on Oct. 10 was the 15th game EWU has won since 2010 when trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. Eastern trailed by 15 in the fourth quarter against the Mustangs, but scored 22 unanswered points to pull out a 42-41 overtime win. It was Eastern's first such heart-stopper since Sept. 20, 2014, when the Eagles rallied for a 52-51 victory over Montana State. Interestingly, a two-point conversion with 27 seconds left won that game for EWU, while a missed two-point conversion by Cal Poly in overtime clinched the win against the Mustangs. Two of the 15 come-from-behind victories came in the 2013 season, including a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State and a 42-41 win against Portland State. Eastern won three in 2012 (Montana, Montana State, UC Davis), two in 2011 and six in the 2010 national title season. Eagle Kendrick Bourne has played a huge roll in Eastern's last two fourth-quarter rallies. Although out-gained 519-270 in total offense in the game versus Cal Poly, Eastern had 145 of its yards on its final three possessions of the game, including drives of 85 and 55 yards to force overtime. Kendrick had six of his career-high 10 catches in the fourth quarter, then had a 25-yard TD catch on the first play of overtime. In last year's MSU game, Eastern fumbled with 5:30 left and the Bobcats scored a go-ahead touchdown with 1:55 to play, but the Eagles kept the game alive by converting a fourth-and-10 on its own 39-yard-line with 1:15 left. Bourne then caught a 40-yard pass, the first of three-straight completions for 60 yards that set-up a 1-yard TD run and the game-winning two-point conversion with just 27 seconds left.

* Eastern has had 10 50-point games in the last four seasons (including 2015), with six in 2014 and two each in 2013 and 2012. Eastern is now 44-3 in the 47 games they have scored at least 50 in school history. The lone losses were to Washington (59-52 in 2014), Idaho State (55-52 in 2003 in double overtime) and Weber State (63-59 in 1991, which at the time was the highest-scoring game in FCS/I-AA history).

* Eastern has advanced to the FCS Playoffs four of the last five years under head coach Beau Baldwin, a two-time Big Sky Coach of the Year. Baldwin will coach in his 100th game at Eastern when the Eagles host Weber State on Oct. 31 at Roos Field in Cheney. He owns a 71-27 record in seven-plus seasons to currently rank seventh in the 52-year history of the Big Sky with a .724 winning percentage. His 81.4 percent winning percentage in league games (48-11) is fifth all-time in the league.

 * The Eagles are now 33-5 all-time on the red turf at "The Inferno" and have won 18 regular season games in a row at Roos Field. Three of the losses have come the past three seasons in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, and EWU's last regular season loss came in the final home game of the 2011 season against Portland State (43-26). The recent playoff losses included a 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in 2012 when EWU rallied from a 35-0 halftime deficit to nearly pull off an improbable comeback, a 35-31 semifinal loss to Towson in 2013 and a 59-46 loss to Illinois State in the quarterfinals in 2014. Eastern is 25-2 in the regular season at "The Inferno" and 8-3 in the FCS Playoffs. The first loss EWU suffered on the red turf was a 36-21 loss to Montana State on Sept. 24, 2011 after an unbeaten debut season during EWU's national championship season in 2010.

* With a Roos Field crowd of 10,352 versus Cal Poly on Oct. 10, Eastern has now had 12-consecutive sell-out crowds at "The Inferno" and 24 all-time in stadium history.

 
 

Player Game Notes

* Now just a single touchdown reception from equaling the career total of the immortal Jerry Rice, two-time All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp continues to lead FCS in receiving touchdowns (12), receiving yards (941), receiving yards per game (156.8), receptions (61) and receptions per game (10.7), and is third in scoring (13.0 per game). On Oct. 7, Kupp was one of 25 players (including EWU quarterback Jordan West) to be named by STATS to its updated watch list for FCS Offensive Player of the Year. On Oct. 19, he and West were named to the 32-player midseason watch list for College Football Performance Awards FCS National Performer of the Week. He is coming off a 14-catch performance at Idaho State on Oct. 17 in which he had 161 yards and two touchdowns receiving, another TD on a 76-yard punt return and a 24-yard scoring pass to quarterback Jordan West. Earlier this season, on his way to earning Big Sky Conference ROOT Sports co-Offensive Player of the Week accolades, Kupp finished with career highs of 15 catches for 246 yards – both Autzen Stadium records – in a 61-42 loss to Oregon on Sept. 5. He now has 47 touchdown catches in his career, moving him this season from 19th to sixth in FCS history. He had two touchdowns in EWU's 28-20 win over Sacramento State on Sept. 26 to set the school and Big Sky Conference records previously held by Eric Kimble with 46 from 2002-05.

* Junior wide receiver Kendrick Bourne has compiled some impressive statistics of his own this season for the Eagles, and is coming off back-to-back career-high performances of 10 catches. He had 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns in EWU's 42-41 overtime victory over Cal Poly, then had 102 yards versus Idaho State on Oct. 17. He had a 25-yard TD on the first play of OT against Cal Poly, and had six other catches in the fourth quarter to help EWU rally from a 15-point deficit. One game earlier, he finished with seven catches for a career-high 204 yards and a touchdown in EWU's 28-20 victory over Sacramento State on Sept. 26. In those three games combined, Bourne has 27 grabs for 390 yards and three touchdowns. In FCS statistics this week, Bourne is eighth in receiving touchdowns (7), 11th in receiving yards (616), 11th in receiving yards per game (102.7) and 11th in receptions per game (7.3). He has 103 catches for 1,547 yards and 19 touchdowns in his 34-game Eastern career.

* Senior rover Todd Raynes led a four-turnover effort by Eastern's defense with a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown that helped complete a 17-0 Eastern scoring run against Idaho State. Eastern trailed 14-7 before the Eagles scored three-straight times, capped by Raynes' second career pick-six that put the Eagles up by 10 in the second quarter in the 45-28 victory. He also had six tackles against ISU, including five in the first half when EWU took a 31-21 lead at intermission. Raynes had a 40-yard return for a TD in last year's FCS Playoffs against Montana, and has four total interceptions in his career. He has played in 38 Eastern games (18 as a starter) and has 122 tackles, six passes broken up, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in his career.

* Eastern has now had 11 200-yard receiving performances all-time, and three of them have come this season (two earlier this season by Cooper Kupp with 246 against Oregon and 201 versus Montana State, and 204 yards by Kendrick Bourne against Sacramento State). Backed up at their own 2-yard line early and trailing Sac State by 13 points in the third quarter, Bourne and quarterback Jordan West hooked up on an electric 98-yard pass play that started a 21-0 scoring run for the Eagles. But the long pass wasn't a school record. Jason Anderson caught a 99-yard TD from Todd Bernett on Sept. 17, 1994, for a school, Big Sky and FCS record that can never be broken – just tied. Bourne also had a non-scoring 43-yard reception from West, who set the school record with 491 passing yards.

* Junior Jordan West was one of 25 players (including EWU receiver Cooper Kupp) named by STATS on Oct. 7 to its updated watch list for FCS Offensive Player of the Year. West has set two school records individually and one team record in three different games this season. The former invited walk-on leads FCS in passing touchdowns (22), and is second in completion percentage (.712), passing efficiency (182.9), passing yards per game (348.3) and total passing yards (2,090). He is also third in points responsible for per game (23.3), sixth in total offense (349.0 per game) and sixth in passing yards per attempt (9.72). West has now started 10 games in his career (7-3 record) and has a career passing efficiency rating of 167.2 to currently rank second in school history ahead of 2005 Walter Payton Award winner Erik Meyer (166.5) and behind two-time Payton runner-up Vernon Adams Jr. (173.8). West has completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,162 yards, 31 touchdowns and five interceptions so far in his career, He had a school-record 491-yard passing performance against Sacramento State on Sept. 26, completing 29-of-47 passes with three touchdowns. The previous record was 486 set by Todd Bernett in 1994 versus Montana. One game earlier, he set the school record for passing efficiency rating in EWU's 55-50 win over then 11th-ranked Montana State on Sept. 19, and was selected by STATS as its FCS co-National Offensive Player of the Week. The junior from Maple Valley, Wash. (2012 graduate of Liberty High School), was also honored with the same award by NCAA.com and College Sports Madness, plus was Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week. West completed 21-of-24 passes (88 percent) for 410 yards and six touchdowns. His efficiency rating of 313.5 broke the previous school record of 310.4 set exactly 23 years ago to the day by Mark Tenneson against Sonoma State in 1992 (10-of-14, 265 yards, four TDs). West's six touchdowns versus MSU were one away from the school record. He contributed 349 passing yards against Northern Iowa on Sept. 12 when EWU finished with a school record 526 passing yards. He was 3-1 record as an injury replacement in 2014 for Adams, and inn his first collegiate start at Southern Utah in a 42-30 win on Oct. 11, 2014, West completed five of his first six passes, and finished 20-of-27 for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He had a passing efficiency rating in the game of 192.9.

* Eastern's entire five-man starting offensive line to open the year was manned by seniors, with a pair of seniors as backups. In all, those five senior starters average 299 pounds and now have 105 starts between them, including a trio who have combined for 85 career starts. Preseason All-America tackle Clay DeBord has a team-leading 46 starts, while All-America guard Aaron Neary has started 19. In addition, Thomas Gomez has 20, Cassidy Curtis has 11 and T.J. Boatright has nine. Curtis missed the last four games with a foot injury suffered versus Oregon and should return to action soon. DeBord has started every game he has played -- 45 of a possible 48 games the past four seasons. He missed one game each in 2012 and 2013 because of ankle injuries, and had a consecutive starting streak of 24 games snapped against Cal Poly on Oct. 10, 2015, when he missed the game with a concussion.

* Senior All-America offensive lineman Aaron Neary has had to play all three positions along the offensive line – guard, tackle and center – this season for EWU. Eastern's offensive line, already playing without injured starting right tackle Cassidy Curtis (foot), lost his replacement as well on Sept. 12 at Northern Iowa. Jerrod Jones made the first start of his Eagle career, but left the game with a knee injury and Neary had to move to that position, with his position taken by senior Jay Deines. In the next game versus Montana State on Sept. 19, freshman redshirt Nick Ellison made the first start of his career at right tackle and has started there ever since. But against Sac State on Sept. 26, Clay DeBord suffered a concussion, resulting in Neary having to move from guard to tackle. Later, when center T.J. Boatright had to leave the game briefly, Neary played that position as well. DeBord was unable to play against Cal Poly on Oct. 10 because of a concussion, and Jones took his place. When Jones left the game with a sprained ankle, redshirt freshman Matt Meyer filled his position.

* Sophomore wide receiver Terence Grady made his first career start at Idaho State on Oct. 17. Although he caught just one pass for two yards, he is EWU's fourth-leading receiver through six games with eight catches for 84 yards. He has also added six special teams tackles.

* Sophomore defensive end Conner Baumann not only made the first defensive start of his career against Cal Poly on Oct. 10, but he was involved in the turning point of the 42-41 overtime victory against the Mustangs. On a third-and-6 play with EWU trailing by six, Baumann and fellow sophomore Andre Lino combined on a key stop that led to a shanked 22-yard Cal Poly punt. Eastern followed with a seven-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jordan West to Nic Sblendorio to help send the game into overtime. Baumann, a 2014 graduate of Newport High School in Bellevue, Wash., had a career-high 11 tackles against Cal Poly. He played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2014, and started at fullback against Northern Colorado on Oct. 18.

* A pair of local redshirt freshmen – rover Cole Karstetter and offensive tackle Nick Ellison – made the first starts of their Eastern careers on Sept. 19 versus Montana State. Karstetter had seven tackles as an injury replacement for Todd Raynes, and is a 2014 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash. Ellison, who started at right tackle as a replacement for two injured veterans, graduated the same year from Moscow, Idaho, High School. One game later versus Sacramento State, receiver Simba Webster made his first career start.

* True freshman end Keenan Williams and redshirt freshman linebacker Alek Kacmarcik made the first starts of their careers on defense for EWU at Northern Iowa on Sept. 12. A hometown product of Cheney, Wash., High School, Williams graduated early and was with the Eagles during spring practices – a first for the EWU program. Kacmarcik was last year's Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year and is a 2014 graduate of Woodinville, Wash., High School. Williams had a tackle on the first play from scrimmage and finished with two stops. Kacmarcik had a pair of sacks and five total tackles against the Panthers, then had 18 tackles – equaling the 18th-best performance in school history – a week later versus Montana State.

* Five players on defense but none on offense made their Eagle starting debuts against Oregon on Sept. 5. Redshirt freshman Jonah Jordan started at defensive end and sophomore defensive tackle Andre Lino started at defensive tackle. Also, sophomore linebacker Jake Gall and redshirt freshman cornerback Nzuzi Webster made their first career starts, as well as redshirt freshman free safety Mitch Fettig. In addition, Washington State University transfer Jordan Dascalo made his EWU debut as starting punter and handled kickoffs for the Eagles.

* Five true freshmen played against the Ducks, including linebacker Ketner Kupp, the younger brother of two-time Eagle wide receiver Cooper Kupp. The others were running backs Sam McPherson and Malcom Williams Jr., and defensive linemen Keenan Williams and Jim Townsend.

 
 

More Cooper Kupp Notes

* Cooper Kupp now has 49 touchdown catches in his career, ranking sixth in FCS history and three ahead of the former school and Big Sky Conference records of 46 set by Eric Kimble (2002-05). Kupp is now just one touchdown catch from ranking third in FCS history with three players, including the legendary Jerry Rice from Mississippi Valley (1981-84). Kupp won the Jerry Rice Award in 2013 given to the top freshman in FCS. The FCS career record is 58 set by New Hampshire's David Ball (2003-06) and ranking second is Terrell Hudgins (2006-09) with 52. Kupp has played just 34 games while all the others in the top five have played at least 41. In fact, Kupp is the only player in the top 26 in FCS history with less than 36 games played.

* Playing just his 34th game as an Eagle, Kupp had 14 catches for 161 yards and a pair of scores against Idaho State on Oct. 17 to move past Eric Kimble for the school record with 261 career catches and rank second in Big Sky history and 15th all-time in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Kupp broke Kimble's record of 253, and he is only seven behind the league record of 268 set by Kasey Dunn of Idaho (1988-91). Kupp, whose brother Ketner Kupp had an interception and six tackles on defense, also had a touchdown pass to quarterback Jordan West and returned a punt 76 yards for a TD in the third quarter. In three career games now against Idaho State, Kupp has 30 catches for 498 yards and seven touchdowns, Kupp had just four catches for 21 yards in his previous game against Cal Poly on Oct. 10.

* Besides setting the school's reception record, Kupp is now approaching the school and league record for reception yards (4,063; 77 from the record) and is 10th all-time in FCS history. Eric Kimble (2002-05) holds the records with 4,140, which ranks ninth in FCS history. Kupp's 15.5 career average per punt return (with two touchdowns) is currently ahead of the school record of 13.4 owned by Kimble. Kupp has 4,421 career all-purpose yards to rank fourth in school history, but is well behind Kimble's total of 5,934. Including two punt return touchdowns, Kupp has 51 total scores to rank three behind Kimble's school record of 54.

* Kupp now has 20 performances of at least 100 receiving yards in his career, and had career highs for catches (15) and yards (246) against Oregon on Sept. 5, 2015. Both of those marks against the Ducks were Autzen Stadium records and the second-best in school history, ranking behind the records of 17 receptions (Aaron Boyce versus Montana on 10/6/07) and 264 yards (Jason Anderson versus Montana on 9/17/94). Kupp's 16 performances with at least 125 receiving yards is a school record.

* Already with six FCS records, eight school marks and two Big Sky records, Kupp has averaged a TD reception for every 5.3 catches so far in his career. He has scored at least once in 29 of 34 games he has played, with 19 performances of at least eight catches and 20 with at least 100 receiving yards. Kupp has started all 34 games he has played in his EWU career, giving him the second-most starts on the team.

* With a career average of 15.6 yards per catch (261-4,063), Kupp has had 21 receptions of 40 yards or more, including 10 for scores. He also has three punt returns of at least 40 yards, two for touchdowns (67 and 76 yards). He had the longest reception of his career versus Oregon on Sept. 5, 2015, a non-scoring 73-yarder, then matched it with a scoring 73-yarder versus Northern Iowa on Sept. 12, 2015.

* Kupp set EWU's single season school record for receptions with 104 in 2014, breaking the record of 96 previously set by his wide receivers coach, Nicholas Edwards in 2011. As a result, Kupp became the 19th player in FCS history to hit the century mark in a single season. His mark ranked second in league history behind the 112 of Idaho State's Rodrick Rumble, also in 2011, and is the 12th-best mark all-time in FCS. He finished the year with 1,431 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He closed the year with 10 catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns versus Illinois State in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs on Dec. 13. One game earlier in the second round of the playoffs, he had what was then a career-best 12 catches versus Montana on Dec. 6 to rank as the eighth-most in school history.

* As a freshman, Kupp set the school and Big Sky records with 21 touchdown receptions. All six of his FCS records came as a freshman when he finished with 93 catches for 1,691 yards. Kupp had at least one score in the first 14 games of his career to set a FCS record, but had the streak stopped in a 2013 loss in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.

* Coach Beau Baldwin on Kupp Breaking the Big Sky TD Receptions Record: "The record he broke was by a student-athlete who had an amazing career here at Eastern, and it was a pleasure to coach Eric Kimble. It was an incredible record that was going to be very hard to break. But Eric would be the first to say he would like no other person to break a record like that because Cooper works for everything he achieves. He has amazing ability, but to break a record like that is because of what he does every day to make himself a better player. But no matter how good a football player Cooper is, he's an even better person and teammate."

* Coach Beau Baldwin on Kupp: "I'd be shocked if you could show me a better receiver at any level in the country. Usually I don't talk like that, but that's how I feel right now and think that we have here at Eastern. We are very fortunate to have him as a leader and player on this football team. It's just a will and an amazing mindset that he has. He is talented – he is talented in every aspect of what it is to be a wide receiver. People want to knock him for his speed, but he still runs behind people over and over again. He took a bubble screen 73 yards against Oregon and a Pac-12 team with a lot of speed. So Cooper is plenty fast. The thing that takes him over the top in comparing him to other receivers in the country is his will. You marvel when you see him out there doing what he is doing. Somebody asked him how he breaks so many tackles, and it's very simple to him, 'I don't like to be tackled so I refuse to be tackled.' That's a mindset. It's kind of like the mental toughness you need to be tired and still play through it. The guys who can do that have grit, and Cooper has another type of grit. When the ball is in the air, 'it's mine. Period.' That's the way he thinks. Eventually he gets tackled, but there are times three or four players hit him and  he's still standing when they knock him out of bounds. But he still hasn't gone to the ground. We're blessed to have him because not only is he an incredible football receiver, but he's an incredible football player. He's a punt returner, he's blocking in the run game, he holds on kicks and he's leading. He leads not only by his words, but by his actions and what he is doing on the field."

 
 

Series Notes

* Since Northern Colorado became a member of the Big Sky Conference in 2006, Eastern has won all seven meetings by a collective 207-96 score (an average score of 30-14). However, Eastern barely won 26-18 last year at home, and had to rally for a 35-28 victory in 2010 the last time the two squads played in Greeley. The teams did not play in the 2012 and 2013 seasons because of league expansion, but EWU won at home 48-27 in 2011. Also included was a 16-0 shutout at Roos Field on Sept. 19, 2009 (the Eagles haven't had a shutout at home or away since). The Eagles recovered three fumbles and had an interception in Eastern's first shutout at the stadium since 1983. Eastern held the Bears to a 0-of-4 performance on fourth down, 4-of-14 on third down and had four sacks. The Eagles lead the all-time series 9-1.

* In last year's meeting in Cheney, sophomore quarterback Jordan West passed for 237 yards and a touchdown to help EWU open a 10-0 lead it would never relinquish, but it was an interception by redshirt freshman Victor Gamboa that clinched a 26-18 victory for the second-ranked Eagles. Gamboa's interception -- his third in two games – came with 2:02 to play on a fourth down play with the Bears at the EWU 49-yard line. Eastern was able to run out the clock and win its 14th-straight Big Sky Conference game. West, who started for the second-straight game in place of injured Walter Payton Award candidate Vernon Adams Jr., led Eastern to 417 yards of offense and no turnovers against one of the league's stingiest teams. West completed 19-of-33 passes for 237 yards and a 40-yard touchdown strike to Shaq Hill.  Running back Jalen Moore rushed for 97 on 25 carries, and scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Eastern's leading receiver was Cooper Kupp with five catches for 65 yards, and Hill added four grabs for 88 yards and a TD. Eastern's defense, meanwhile, allowed only a field goal on UNC's first six possessions and held the Bears to 306 yards total. Most importantly, Eastern had no turnovers compared to one for UNC. The Bears entered the game ranked first in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision with 14 turnovers and were second in turnover margin with a plus 12 for the season. Besides a blocked punt by Zackary Johnson that was recovered by Samson Ebukam and led to an Eastern touchdown, Eastern also scored on a fake field goal attempt. Clinging to a 13-3 lead in the third quarter, holder Conner Richardson found Terry Jackson II for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give EWU a 20-3 lead with 11:22 left in the quarter. It was the first career pass for Richardson and the first career TD for Jackson, who also made his first career start when EWU began the game with two tight ends and a fullback. The Eagle defense recorded seven sacks in the game, including two by Ebukam. Also with sacks against the Bears were Miquiyah Zamora, Johnson, Conner Baumann, Matthew Sommer and Ashton Boothroyd.

 * Prior to not meeting in 2012 and 2013, a second-quarter burst and another in the second half made the difference for Eastern as it pulled away for a 48-27 victory over Northern Colorado on Oct. 15, 2011, at Roos Field. The Eagles scored 21-straight points in the second quarter to take a 24-10 lead at halftime, then had another 21-point outburst later in the second half to surge ahead. The Eagles finished with 522 yards of total offense, and senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell had 400 yards and three touchdowns through the air on his way to winning the Walter Payton Award. Wide receiver Greg Herd had 11 receptions for 159 yards and a touchdown. Quincy Forte, a true freshman at the time, added 170 all-purpose yards, finishing with a team-high 50 yards rushing, 69 receiving and 51 on kickoff returns. Defensively, linebacker J.C. Agen, safety Matt Johnson and defensive end Paul Ena all had six tackles to lead the Eagles.

* The last meeting in Greeley came during EWU's run to the national championship in 2010, and was one of six victories that season when EWU rallied after trailing or tied in the fourth quarter. The Eagles scored twice in the final 3:08 for an improbable 35-28 victory on Oct. 16, 2010, at Nottingham Field. Eastern knotted the score at 28 with 3:08 left in the game with a 12-play, 80-yard drive, then scored again with 41 seconds left on a 24-yard run by Taiwan Jones, who finished with 168 yards rushing and three scores. That came after a sack and forced fumble by Colorado native Jerry Ceja that was recovered by senior Tyler Jolley and returned to the UNC 39-yard line. Jones had nearly half of his yards on a 73-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Eastern had just 16 first downs and 381 yards of total offense, and had a nearly 14-minute deficit in time of possession. Northern Colorado finished with 362 yards of offense while running 20 more plays than Eastern (76-56), which had only 28 yards of offense in the third quarter. J.C. Sherritt had 14 tackles, a sack and a victory-sealing interception in the final seconds versus UNC. Linebacker Zach Johnson added 13 tackles, and also had an interception. Bo Levi Mitchell was 16-of-25 for 172 yards against the Bears, with many of those completions and yards coming during EWU's game-tying drive.

* In the 2009 meeting, the Eagles recovered three fumbles and had an interception in Eastern's first shutout at Roos Field (then Woodward Field) since 1983. The Eagles had six other shutouts from 1983-2009 either on the road or in Spokane, including a 34-0 win over UNC in 2006. Eastern also held the Bears to a 0-of-4 performance on fourth down, 4-of-14 on third down and had four sacks. Senior quarterback Matt Nichols had two touchdown passes in EWU's win over the Bears, and Mike Jarrett added a 28-yard field goal. But the Eagles managed only 292 yards of total offense while holding Northern Colorado to 238. Taiwan Jones rushed for 95 yards on 18 carries for EWU, and finished with 164 yards of all-purpose yards (he had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown shortened to 52 yards because of an illegal block penalty). J.C. Sherritt finished with 16 tackles and Kyle Wilkins had 11.

 
 
 

Injury Report

* A bye week helped Eastern's injury situation immensely, and only four starters were out of the lineup against Cal Poly on Oct. 10. The same number missed EWU's game at Idaho State on Oct. 17, but several other key backups. Seven starters missed the Sacramento State game because of injuries, a week after six starters and several other players missed the Montana State game on Sept. 19. One week earlier than that, four starters were missing from the Northern Iowa game.

* Starting kicker Tyler McNannay (hip flexor) missed his third-straight game last week, and starting offensive tackle Cassidy Curtis (foot) and starting wide receiver Shaq Hill (knee) haven't played since EWU's opener. Newcomers to the injury list included co-starting linebacker Alek Kacmarcik (hamstring), who missed the Idaho State game. Also missing the ISU game were a trio of key backups -- wide receiver Simba Webster (knee), defensive lineman Kaleb Levao (knee) and running back Malcolm Williams (hamstring). Eastern was particularly thin at linebacker, with backup Kurt Calhoun (hamstring) missing his second-straight game. Curtis could return this week after having surgery on Sept. 10. He is listed as questionable for the Northern Colorado game, as are McNannay, Kacmarcik, Webster and Calhoun. Levao and Williams are doubtful, and Hill is out.

* Previously, offensive tackle Clay DeBord (concussion) missed the Cal Poly game, snapping his streak of consecutive Eagle games started at 24. He returned to play Oct. 17 versus Idaho State, as did backup running back Sam McPherson (ankle) who missed two games. Cassidy Curtis' replacement at tackle for the Northern Iowa game, Jerrod Jones (knee/shin), missed the Montana State game. Jones then started in place of DeBord against Cal Poly on Oct. 10. Running back Jalen Moore (ankle) missed three games before returning against Cal Poly in a limited role. Defensive end Jonah Jordan (ankle) and rover Todd Raynes (hamstring) also returned to play against Cal Poly after missing two games. In addition, safety Mitch Fettig (shoulder) and backup quarterback Reilly Hennessey (ankle) were held out of the Sac State game. In the first half against Sac State, receiver Nic Sblendorio (shoulder) and cornerback Victor Gamboa (concussion) were injured and missed the second half, but returned to play versus Cal Poly. Strong-side linebacker Jake Gall (hip pointer) missed the MSU game and safety Zach Bruce (shoulder) missed the contest at Northern Iowa. Reserve wide receiver Jalani Phelps (ankle) was also unavailable against MSU, and backup center Spencer Blackburn (thumb) is out for an indefinite time after getting injured in practices the week before EWU played MSU. Earlier this season, Cooper Kupp (hip pointer) and Hennessey missed significant playing time in the second half against UNI with injuries. The injuries also took away EWU's top kickoff returner (Hill) and punt returner (Kupp) from Eastern's arsenal against Northern Iowa, as well as the team's two holders on placekicks (Kupp and Hennessey).

 
 

Quoting Beau Baldwin

On Defense Versus Idaho State: "It was a huge day for both sides of the ball, and a huge break-out game for our defense to get a bunch of turnovers and a bunch of stops. I loved that so many people were talking -- and our defense was listening -- that the first team to eight touchdowns was going to win. Our defense didn't think that would be the case and came out and played great football. We were led by our defense in this game – it's a very good Idaho State team and offense we faced, and our defense came to play."

On Progress Versus ISU: "We need to keep growing as a team in a lot of areas. We still sputtered a little more than I would like on offense. And we still can improve in special teams – we did some good things but we still have room for improvement. We are still a work in progress, and I think a lot of teams in the conference and country would say that. There are ton of little things we need to work on moving forward."

On Overwhelming Victory by UNC Over UC Davis: "It doesn't surprise me. They were able to beat a Sac State team that gave us a ton of trouble as well. And then to turnaround and win this game like that doesn't shock me. Coach Collins does a great job and we look forward to that challenge on the road."

On 15 Comeback Victories Since 2010: "It starts with our message to them and how we are going to handle those situations, but we have to live it – if we tell them to be calm then we better be calm. And then it bleeds through seniors and juniors who have experienced comeback wins. They pass that knowledge down in a certain sense. It's our culture and what we believe in. It doesn't mean you are going to win every one, but you give yourself a better opportunity in the long run. We talk about it all the time that panic will definitely lead to defeat. But if you don't panic, you can fight and claw your way back in it."

On Injuries Along Offensive Line: "Coach Aaron Best has been one of the best coaches I've ever seen of taking whatever group he has and getting them ready to compete. It's true that continuity can make you great up front, but coach Best will never use the injuries as an excuse for doing what we need to do as an offense. He's done a great job of that and developing the depth. And the players took on the challenge and are practicing and competing as starters. They are doing a great job with that."

 
 

Career Starts by Returning Players

Defense (165 starts by 20 players): Miquiyah Zamora 28, Samson Ebukam 19, Matthew Sommer 19, Todd Raynes 18, Victor Gamboa 16, Rashad  Wadood 13 (now a running back), Andre Lino 8, Miles Weatheroy 6, Zach Bruce 6, Nzuzi Webster 6, Jake Hoffman 4, Mitch Fettig 4, Keenan Williams 4, Jake Gall 3, Alek Kacmarcik 3, Frank Cange 3, Cole Karstetter 3, Albert Havili 2, Jonah Jordan 1, Conner Baumann 1.

Offense (231 starts by 20 players): Clay DeBord 46, Cooper Kupp 34, Thomas Gomez 20, Aaron Neary 19, Jake Withnell 16, Kendrick Bourne 14, Shaq Hill 12, Zach Wimberly 13, Cassidy Curtis 11, Jordan West 10, T.J. Boatright 9, Jabari Wilson 8, Terry Jackson II 5, Nic Sblendorio 4, Nick Ellison 4, Jerrod Jones 2, Terence Grady 1, Simba Webster 1, Jay Deines 1, Conner Baumann 1 (as fullback).

 
 
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