Cal Poly preparing to host Eastern Washington for final home game

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-13 21:58:33-05

Cal Poly (2-7, 1-5 Big Sky), which has lost five straight games, four against teams currently in the FCS top 25 polls, since a 2-2 start, plays its final home game of the 2019 season Saturday, hosting Eastern Washington (5-5, 4-2 Big Sky) in a Big Sky Conference game inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium (cap.: 11,075) in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Eastern Washington held Idaho State without a touchdown in a 48-5 victory last week in Pocatello, Idaho. In winning on the road for the first time in five tries this season and beating the Bengals for the 11th straight time, the Eagles accumulated 689 yards of total offense, led by junior quarterback Eric Barriere as he completed 23 of 38 passes for 406 yards and three scores and rushed for 61 yards en route to Big Sky offensive player of the week for the second straight week. Antoine Custer rushed for 145 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown run, and Andrew Boston caught 10 passes for 147 yards and two scores.

Under third-year head coach Aaron Best, Eastern Washington, 2019 NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national champion and 2018 runner-up, lost five of its first eight games this season before bouncing back with a 66-38 win against Northern Arizona and last week's victory at Idaho State. The Eagles also have defeated Lindenwood, North Dakota and Northern Colorado. Eastern Washington leads the FCS in total offense (524.3 yards-per-game average) and is No. 2 in passing offense (336.9), No. 5 in scoring offense (39.2) and first downs (247), No. 10 with a plus-10 turnover margin and No. 16 with just four lost fumbles.

Eastern Washington returned a total of 48 lettermen, including nine starters — five on offense and four on defense — off last year's squad which posted a 12-3 mark, shared the Big Sky title with UC Davis and Weber State, all with 7-1 marks, and lost to North Dakota State 38-24 in the FCS title game. The Eagles joined the Big Sky in 1987, have won or shared the conference title 10 times, including six in the last nine seasons, and have qualified for the FCS playoffs 13 times. Three former Eagles were Walter Payton Award winners — wide receiver Cooper Kupp in 2015, Bo Levi Mitchell in 2011 and Erik Meyer in 2005 — while J.C. Sherritt (2010) and Greg Peach (2008) were Buck Buchanan Award winners. Kupp also claimed the Jerry Rice Award in 2012 as the Freshman of the Year. Vernon Adams was runner-up for the Payton award in 2013 and 2014.

The Eagles have earned winning seasons 21 times in the last 23 years, winning 66 percent of their games (189-97) and 126 of 172 Big Sky contests (73 percent). Eastern Washington has posted a 5-3 record or better in Big Sky games 12 years in a row, is 47-11 in Big Sky contests since an 0-2 start in 2011 and sports a 56-10 overall mark at red-turfed Roos Field since 2010.

Best (third season, 24-12, Eastern Washington '01) replaced Beau Baldwin as the Eagles' head coach on Jan. 21, 2017, after 20 seasons as a player (offensive lineman) and assistant coach at Eastern Washington.

Eastern Washington averages 524 yards and 39 points per game, rushing for 187 yards and passing for 337 yards each contest. The Eagles have allowed 431 yards and 33 points a game, including 154 yards on the ground and 277 through the air.

Cal Poly and Eastern Washington will be playing each other in football for the 11th time Saturday. The Eagles have an 8-2 series advantage, 5-0 at home, and a six-game winning streak in the series after defeating the Mustangs 70-17 in 2018 at Roos Field. Eastern Washington earned a 42-21 victory in 2016 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Tim Walsh is 7-14 against Eastern Washington -- 0-1 while coaching at Sonoma State, 7-7 while at Portland State and 0-6 at Cal Poly -- while Aaron Best is 1-0 against Cal Poly.

-Provided by Cal Poly