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Vikings play host to Southern Utah at Hillsboro Stadium; Timbers try to close out MLS playoff spot

PSU football: Portland State looks to get to 1-1 in Big Sky play when it takes on Southern Utah (1-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.

The Thunderbirds fell 24-21 at home to Cal Poly last week, missing a 23-yard field-goal attempt with 2:10 remaining.

The Vikings got beat vertically at Idaho State, where quarterback Matt Struck passed for six touchdowns, five in a 41-10 first half. The TDs covered 45, 66, 45, 15, 35 and 4 yards.

Penalties, turnovers and other mistakes haunted Portland State, which had looked very good in its season opener at Arkansas and good in a loss at Boise State, and had two easy and huge wins over NAIA teams Simon Fraser and Eastern Oregon.

The Bengals also scored on a pick-six, while PSU was unable to force a turnover.

In this week's FCS rankings, the Big Sky has four of the top 12 teams in Weber State (fifth), Montana State (seventh), Montana (ninth) and UC Davis (12th). And, Eastern Washington is ranked 21st.

Small-college football: The Northwest Conference returns to action with league openers after a week off. Lewis & Clark (1-1) will play at Pacific Lutheran (1-1) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Linfield (1-1) is at Pacific (0-3), George Fox (1-2) at Puget Sound (2-1), and Willamette (1-1) at Whitworth (1-1) in 1 p.m. games.

Linfield is ranked 22nd in NCAA Division III.

• Western Oregon (2-0 and atop the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, 2-2 overall) plays host to Simon Fraser (0-1, 0-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Wolves are coming off a 36-26 win at GNAC Central Washington.

Timbers: Portland closes its ninth MLS regular season with a 1 p.m. Sunday match against the San Jose Earthquakes at Providence Park.

A win or a draw will guarantee the Timbers a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs for a third consecutive season. Portland enters the final day in sixth place in the Western Conference. It can move no higher, but would fall out of the playoffs with a loss and a FC Dallas win over Sporting Kansas City.

Sunday is perhaps the most interesting day of the MLS season. Dubbed as Decision Day, all 12 matches kick off at 1 p.m. PT. The game that means the most this season is in Portland, so it has been moved to ESPN, which also will be cutting to other games as action unfolds.

Portland isn't exactly finishing this season with a flourish. Despite a home-heavy home stretch, the Timbers have been bouncing around the seventh-place line since August.

Fortunately for the Timbers, the Earthquakes have lost five in a row and FC Dallas has fallen into what is becoming an annual late-season slumber.

The Timbers likely will be without striker Brian Fernandez on Sunday. He was shown a red card for actions during a confrontation in the Timbers' 2-2 draw last weekend at Sporting KC. The Timbers planned to appeal that decision.

If the Timbers make the playoffs, they will open on the road at either the second-place or third-place team in the West. Entering Sunday, Minnesota United is second and Seattle third.

• The Timbers aren't the only pro soccer team fighting for playoff qualification this week at Providence Park.

On Saturday, T2 plays host to USL Championship power Phoenix Rising at 7 p.m.

Portland is 10-12-8 (38 points), 12th in the Western Conference. With four matches left, T2 is three points out of the final playoff spot (10th place).

Phoenix is 22-3-6 and has scored 50 more goals than it has allowed. While T2 is a developmental and rehabilitation team as part of the Timbers organization, Phoenix Rising is the highest level of pro soccer in Arizona and built to contend for championships.

College women's soccer: Portland opens West Coast Conference play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Pepperdine. It figures to be a challenge for the Pilots. The Waves (4-4-2) have played a strong schedule and have a win over No. 2-ranked Stanford and a draw with No. 7 UCLA.

• Oregon State (8-1, 0-1 Pac-12) took a halftime lead Saturday but dropped its conference opener to No. 21 Washington State 2-1. The Beavers will stay on the road, visiting Utah on Thursday and Colorado on Sunday.

• Oregon (4-2-3, 0-1) lost 2-1 Friday at Washington. The Ducks are at Colorado on Thursday and at Colorado on Sunday.

• Portland State plays twice at Hillsboro Stadium this week, playing host to Southern Utah at noon Friday and Northern Arizona at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Vikings are 2-9 overall and 1-1 in the Big Sky after Sunday's 1-0 loss at Weber State. PSU had won its previous two matches.

• Concordia will try to rediscover its winning ways on Thursday at Seattle Pacific after dropping its GNAC opener 2-1 on Saturday at Montana State Billings. The Cavaliers are 2-5 overall. According to coach Grant Landy, they are playing well in stretches, but finding ways to lose. Thursday's match is the second of three in a row on the road to open conference play.

College men's soccer: Portland dropped a rough-and-tumble, 1-0 game to No. 10 Washington on Sunday at Seattle. Each team finished with 10 men. Washington was called for 28 fouls, Portland 19.

One of those fouls was committed just outside the top of the 18, setting up Ethan Bartlow's free-kick rocket for the only goal in the 81st minute.

Portland is 4-3-1 and will play host to UC Riverside at 7 p.m. Friday in another nonconference contest. The Pilots start WCC play on Oct. 12 at home against Pacific.

• Oregon State (5-3, 2-0 Pac-12) returns to conference play with noon matches Thursday at California and Sunday at Stanford. A Sunday home match against UC Davis was canceled because of weather conditions in Corvallis.

• Concordia opens play in the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference with a 2 p.m. Saturday home match against Montana State Billings. The Cavaliers are 3-0 at Tuominen Yard in nonconference games, 0-2 on the road.

Winterhawks: Portland (3-0) has outscored its opponents 14-6, with nine players getting at least one goal. Clay Hanus lead the team with three.

Simon Knak and Jonas Brondberg each has four assists.

Goalie Joel Hofer has played all 180 minutes, making 80 saves (.930).

The Hawks will play their next six games away, starting Friday at Lethbridge. They'll be back for an Oct. 19 game, 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, against Brandon.

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