Idaho won another football game last week. That’s right, another one. Time to break out the most overused gif/meme in the history of the internet.
We disposed of Sacramento State with ease last Thursday night, walking out of the Kibbie Dome with a 28-6 win.
All we do is win these days.
Idaho is now on a six game winning streak. Five of those wins are by at least 10 points, the average margin of victory for the Vandals is 18 points. The 61-50 win over Colorado State was a 61-28 game mid-way through the fourth quarter.
We are Beating. The. Shit. Outta. Teams.
This win was not perfect. I was actually kind of pissed off in the first half, when Idaho only took a 14-6 lead into the locker room and when we turned it over three times on the night.
The pass protection was poor, route running wasn’t as clean as we’re used to and Linehan was off by just a little bit.
And we still dominated that football game.
See: Bill Connelly’s Five Factors which contribute to overall S&P+ ratings.
Despite poor pass protection and losing Alfonso Onunwor early in the game, Idaho reeled off 5.65 yards per play and capitalized for 4.67 points per trip inside the Sac. State 40-yard line. All of this with a 41-percent success rate on offense (Based on getting a certain percentage of yards on a particular down based on situation).
The offense is going to get better. It always down under Petrino. Isaiah Saunders and Aaron Duckworth combined for 6.8 yards per carry on 220 yards.
Yeah, Linehan’s two picks weren’t great. One would’ve been a nice deep touchdown to Onunwor, and instead resulted in our No. 1 receiver coming out with a knee injury. He still went 14-19 for 8.6 YPA and two touchdowns. That’s a better Matt Linehan line than last season’s opener, and he turned out just alright.
But the defense, the defense, oh my god. The. Defense.
Sacramento State had 190 yards the entire game, they barely averaged three yards per play and failed to get into the endzone. They averaged 1.5 points per trip inside Idaho’s 40. I mean, yeah. That will win Idaho any football game.
Sac State couldn’t throw the ball deep, so our susceptible secondary wasn’t tested. But our front seven completely dominated. We held Sac under 100 yards rushing on 2.7 per carry.
Listen guys, this front seven is really fucking good. There are numerous NFL prospects on this unit, and that’s not hyperbole.
DJ Henderson and Aikeem Coleman, from Last Chance U EMCC fame, anchor a fast, powerful defensive line. Shit, fifth-year senior Zach Cable is kickin’ in some pressure.
The linebackers though? Kaden Elliss, Ty Graham, Ed Hall, Tony Lashley. This group is fast and knows how to fundamentally tackle. Which, considering previous Idaho teams, this isn’t insignificant. They don’t make mistakes and they contain the run.
Our secondary contains multiple converted offensive players, and a few injury-prone guys. It’ll be an adventure at times. We’ll give up deep plays, though it’s much better than when Petrino first got here. But the front seven is the best front seven Idaho football has maybe ever had. Certainly over the last decade at least. NFL scouts at games like Western Michigan and Missouri are going to be taking notes on some of those guys. Camp invites are going to be extended over the next few years to numerous guys on this defense, which is utterly surreal given how atrocious this side of the ball has been as recently as 2015.
Idaho has talent all throughout this roster and is going to continue to win games this year despite the player we lost from the bowl team. This isn’t an overreaction to one game. It’s an evaluation of a talented roster put together by Paul Petrino.
I don’t know how or why Paul Petrino is back at Idaho for a fifth season. He could have dipped out for an assistant job at Louisville and doubled his salary before kicking out for a better job. It’s probably what he’ll do next year, throwing up the deuces before the Big Sky drop. Fuck it, he deserves greener pastures for what he’s built at Idaho. But coming back to finish the job for one more year to stick a middle finger to the Sun Belt? Paul, it was an honor to see you back at the Kibbie Dome chasing refs down the sideline and screaming near obscenities onto the field.
On Saturday we’re going to blow out UNLV at the Kibbie Dome.
UNLV is the recipient of the biggest upset in NCAA history given the Vegas odds. Howard came into Las Vegas and came away with a 45-42 win, defying the 45-point spread given to the home team.
Howard comes from the MEAC, an HBCU conference whose athletic programs are usually massively underfunded compared even to fellow FCS programs. (Delaware State leads the conference with a $14 Million budget).
Losing to FCS schools is a hobby of our Palouse neighbors, but at least they bounce back and participate in the postseason. UNLV coach Tony Sanchez is coming off a 3-9 season followed by a 4-8 campaign. Success has been tough to come by in the college ranks for a coach who won six consecutive state titles at Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say his high school stop had more cash and recruiting influence than the college he’s currently at.
UNLV currently comes in as a 6.5 dog to the Vandals, opening by as much of a 10-point dog. So, uh, place your bets on Idaho now. It’s free money.
Idaho won last year’s match up in Vegas 33-27 in overtime after coming in as a heavy underdog.
UNLV’s defense is quite awful, having conceded 5.16 yards per play to Howard and giving up 5.83 points per Howard trip inside the UNLV 40. That’s really, really, realllllyyyyy bad.
And while UNLV torched Howard for over 8 yards per play, the Rebels needed 11 trips into scoring position to put up 40 points. Three different UNLV rushers had runs of at least 35 yards.
They’ll have no such luxury at Idaho.
It’ll be up to highly-recruited freshman Armani Rogers putting the ball in the air. The coveted quarterback declined offers such as Fresno State, UCLA and Washington for the opportunity to start right away after a redshirt season at UNLV. Individually, his debut was successful. But he’ll have a tougher test against Idaho’s speed on defense.
Idaho shouldn’t have a difficult time turning this into a shootout under a worst case scenario.
So hold me to it. We’re going to beat the shit out of UNLV by two touchdowns at least. Idaho football will keep winning, and keep winning by a lot.