Bobcats suffer first conference loss after losing losing to Eastern Washington 54-29

MSU and Eastern Washington played close through the first half of Saturday's game but in the second half the Eagles ran away getting the win 54-29.

In what should be the toughest game for MSU this season, the Bobcats will hit the road Saturday to face Eastern Washington.

Neither team has lost in Big Sky Conference play, so the ramifications of this match-up can not be understated. Both teams have identical overall records, 7-2, so this looks to be a very evenly matched contest. The Bobcats have noted all week that this game is for the Big Sky Conference championship.

"This is the Big Sky Conference championship this week," said senior running back Cody Kirk. "I'm excited for it, I'm ready to play."

"They are going to come with it," said senior quarterback DeNarius McGhee. "They have a lot of athletes that can make a lot of big plays. We'll have to do what we do and execute."

The Eagles have been dominant on offense this season with a very young group. Washington sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. has thrown for over 3,000 yards this season with 35 touchdowns. Freshman wide receiver Cooper Kupp has recorded 13 of those touchdowns and is averaging just over 109 yard per game.

"First thing that stands out is their quarterback Vernon Adams," said MSU defensive coordinator Jamie Marshall. "He's having a great year and I think he's much improved from where he was a year ago. It'll be a great challenge."

The Eagles and Bobcats have split wins in their last two meetings. In 2011, MSU picked up a 36-21 win at Roos Field. The following year, Eastern Washington picked up a close win at Bobcat Stadium, 27-24.

"The path to the championship has gone through this game the last three years," said MSU head coach Rob Ash. "Eastern Washington has a great team and a great record of championship and playoff appearances. They're a great team you have to try to compete with every year and the good news is we've been able to do that."

MSU will be going into this game without one of their offensive weapons as senior tight end Tia Salanoa will not play in this game due to a knee injury he suffered last week. Junior defensive back James Nelson will also miss Saturday's game with an ankle injury.

Kickoff tomorrow set for 1 p.m.

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