FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona football team is road tested. After dropping their season opener at Arizona State, the Lumberjacks have won four straight away from Flagstaff, winning games in Las Vegas, Montana, North Dakota and Colorado. The Lumberjacks take on Idaho State at 3 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena with a chance to continue their winning ways and setup an exciting finish at home with historic opportunities.
"This is the sixth out of nine games that have been on the road," said Head Coach Jerome Souers. "Our guys have handled that mentality well. We can't let up. We have another week where we have to travel to the unfriendly confines of an opponent and play in their stadium in front of their fans."
The Lumberjacks, who are ranked No. 12 in the country in The Sports Network FCS poll, escaped with a 12-10 victory at Northern Colorado last week, extending the team's win streak to seven games. NAU is looking for an 8-1 start after nine games for just the second time (NAU went 8-1 in 1957 and started 9-0 in 1958) in school history and the first eight-game winning streak since 1958 when the Lumberjacks opened the season 11-0 and played for the NAIA National Championship at the Holiday Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"It takes energy and great preparation," said Souers. "We have to be ready to play another Big Sky Conference team. Throw the records out. We have to maintain a mentality of four quarters of play and have a stronger quality of play than we had last Saturday. We had too many turnovers. We understand what that causes and what the penalties can do to us. We need a better overall team effort."
The Lumberjacks take on an Idaho State team that is 1-7 overall and winless in the Big Sky Conference at 0-5.
"Our focus has been better practices and having more energy and enthusiasm with what we are doing," said Souers. "We are looking for the carry over come Saturday."
NAU leads the all-time series 31-17-1 with Idaho State. NAU is 13-14 overall in Pocatello but have won the last three meetings on the road against the Bengals and each of the last seven overall meetings in the series. The Lumberjacks have scored 32 or more points against the Bengals in six of the last seven meetings and posted 52 points in Pocatello in 2008.
"We are a program that gets better every week," said Souers. "If you are not getting better, you are getting worse. We need to maintain that positive growth curve and demand that our overall quality of play improves."
With the win over UNC and losses by Cal Poly and Eastern Washington, NAU moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference standings at 5-0. The Lumberjacks control their destiny for a league title with three games left in the regular season. NAU was picked seventh by the coaches and ninth by the media in the preseason polls.
Idaho State enters the game last in the conference in rushing defense at 339 yard per game, while allowing over 560 yards of total offense. Junior running back Zach Bauman has rushed for 331 yards in two career games against the Bengals. He had a then career-high 219 yards in 2011 and 112 yards as a freshman against ISU in Pocatello.
Fans can listen to the game on the Big Talker on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona and online on The Big Talker website and via their mobile app on your phone. The game can be seen on Big Sky TV. Fans can also watch the game on two big screens at Granny's Closet in Flagstaff.