FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – What does Northern Arizona have in common with Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Notre Dame? All have posted current win streaks of eight or more games heading into action this Saturday. The Lumberjacks host Big Sky rival Southern Utah at 2 p.m. at the Walkup Skydome with a chance to claim a share of the Big Sky Conference title and further improve their resume for Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
But the main focus on the minds of the Lumberjacks is Southern Utah.
"The team is really excited but at the same time we are really focused," said fullback Jake Hess. 'We are not thinking about the Big Sky Championship. We are thinking about Southern Utah. It is where our mindset is right now."
Southern Utah, which won in Flagstaff in the season finale last season, defeated then No. 1 Eastern Washington 30-27 two weeks ago. The Thunderbirds enter the game with a 4-6 record with each of their last four losses by a touchdown or less.
"They really remind me of us last year," said linebacker Austin Hasquet. "They have been in a lot of games but don't have the best record. They are a good team and we will try to lock them down on the perimeter and have good pass rush up front."
Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen was the preseason Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year. He has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards on the season with 21 touchdowns.
"Southern Utah is a really well coached team," said Hess. "It means we have to come out and play to the best of our ability."
NAU is one of nine teams in Division 1 with win streaks of eight or more games. The eight-game winning streak is the second-best in the FCS behind Lehigh (9 straight) and eighth-best in Division I.
NAU is in sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference standings for the second consecutive week at 6-0 with Montana State, Eastern Washington and Cal Poly all tied for second at 5-1. The Lumberjacks can clinch a share of the conference title with a win this week. The 6-0 record equals the mark by the 1978 Big Sky champion squad that went 6-0 to win the league title, tying the school record for consecutive Big Sky wins. NAU was also co-champions in 2003. NAU has never been 7-0 in conference play since joining the Big Sky in 1970.
The Lumberjacks control their destiny for a league title with the games against Southern Utah and Cal Poly remaining in the regular season. NAU was picked seventh by the coaches and ninth by the media in the preseason polls.
The HintonBurdick Grand Canyon Trophy will be presented for the first time Saturday to the winner of the game and will be on display at the winner's school until the next meeting.
HintonBurdick, PLLC, is a regional accounting firm with offices located in both home cities featured in the game, Flagstaff and Cedar City, Utah, as well as other Utah locations in St. George, Hurricane and Richfield and Mesquite, Nev. The Flagstaff office includes partners K. Mark Frost, CPA and Kevin L. Stephens, CPA.
The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Arizona live to a national audience. Fans can also 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.
Tickets are available by calling the Central Ticket Office at 928-523-5661 or by purchasing them online. The Walkup Skydome Ticket Office opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday.