Last year, Portland State took its lumps in going 0-11 — just two seasons after winning nine games with a massive senior class. This past weekend, the Vikings may have pulled off their biggest win since that successful 2015 season, as the program knocked off Montana during its homecoming in from of 26,000 fans. Head coach Bruce Barnum comes on the Coaches' Corner this week to talk about that and much more.
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MCLAUGHLIN: Let's Fix The First Round FCS Playoff Mess
Barnum has had an interesting ride to get to this point, having been named the interim coach in 2015 after Nigel Burton was let go in late 2014. In his first game as the head coach with the Vikings, he took his team to Pullman, Wash. to take on the Pac 12's Washington State. The Vikings stunned the Cougars that day, ruining Wazzu coach Mike Leach's day in a season where his team ultimately won nine games and won the Sun Bowl.
Later that year, the Vikings traveled to FBS North Texas and knocked North Texas around and cost its head coach (former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney) his job the next Monday. Later in the year, PSU handed eventual Big Sky champion Southern Utah its lone league loss, and also ended Eastern Washington's playoff chances (Cooper Kupp's junior year), but the Vikings lost to North Dakota and were upset by Northern Colorado to finish second in the conference. They still earned an FCS playoff seed and a first-round bye.
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Since then, the road hasn't been easy. In 2016, the Viks won only three games, dropping four contests by seven points or less. Then last year it was the tale of two worlds, as Portland State very nearly nailed down its second Pac 12 win in three years against Oregon State — leading the Beavers with two minutes left — and gave BYU fits in the season opener. But on the flip side, most of the Big Sky games weren't that close as the program fell to 0-11.
But this year there has been a spark — with a true freshman kicker named Cody Williams nailing three field goals, including a 52 yarder for the win, as Portland State posted its biggest victory in three years. Two capable sophomores have rotated at quarterback, and there are only seven senior starters in the lineup — so the rebuilding work via a youth movement seems to be "taking".
"Barny" talks about it all, plus other fun stuff, as he and HERO Sports' Brian McLaughlin get a chance to catch up.
Listen to "Coaches Corner: Portland State Coach Bruce Barnum" on Spreaker.