Being back in the Big Sky gives us a unique opportunity to take back the State of Idaho’s title for the biggest game.

We used to have a true rival with Boise State: North Idaho vs. Southern Idaho, Urban vs. Rural. Academic school vs. Athletic school, History and prestige vs. hip startup.

It got heated, houses were divided.

But it all came crumbling down with the words “Nasty & Inebriated” and when cooler heads didn’t prevail. The teams went their separate ways in 2011.

The State of Idaho no longer has a big game.

Meanwhile, Boise State has no -real- rivals in the Mountain West Conference. Idaho, well, we’ll play the Little Brown Stein game this year against Montana. We also will try to start something new and fun with Eastern Washington. Personally, I vote for naming it The Red Scare Game).

Idaho State plays Portland State and Weber State as rivals, I guess. Arguably the most eye-grabbing games since November 12, 2010, have been the BYU vs. Boise State matchups which leaves the bar pretty low. There’ve also been a few decent Fresno State matchups.

We should put our effort into really making the Idaho State game a real deal. It could be a diamond in the rough. Think of some of the biggest rivalries in the country, The Apple Cup, The Civil War, The Territorial Cup, Montana vs Montana State. Notice anything? Doesn’t Idaho vs. Idaho State just sound right?

It can also be a way to stick it to Boise State. Can you imagine the State paying attention to two FCS Schools battling out, over whatever team Boise State is playing from the Mountain West? They have no rivals. They rarely host big games at home anymore. The fact that they turned us away, then we go out and find a game that draws as much attention as their game with us did. Except now they are on the outside looking in. We would have a historic rivalry with Montana, a new trendy rivalry with a neighbor in EWU, the occasional game against WSU and then this statewide spectacle of UI vs. ISU. Meanwhile, they bloat the Idaho Statesman with 10 reasons why the random cupcake team they play is important. Have radio personalities pollute the radio waves with ‘BSU is the best’ propaganda with a skippable commercial about how to bleed blue. All of these so people feel the need to buy tickets, so Albertson’s stadium quits being one-fourth empty.

Idaho vs. Idaho state isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Both were founding members of the Big Sky Conference. Boise State was not. Idaho State was at one point a part of the University of Idaho (UI- Southern Branch). We first played Idaho State in 1901 when Boise State didn’t even exist yet. We didn’t play Boise State until 1971. We had already played Idaho State 11 times before that. We only have a game difference in times played. We have played Boise State 40 times and Idaho State 39 times. After this Saturday, October 6. we will have played both teams 40 times.

Now some things do need to change for it to be a true rival.

Idaho State has some work to do. They are consistently considered a bottom half of the Big Sky team. What made Boise State vs. Idaho so popular was the success both teams had.

Idaho State needs to become competitive more frequently. It cannot be a rival if they only win every once in a while. Although, the series is not as uncompetitive as you may think. Surprisingly, Idaho beat Boise State 12 years in a row at one point and has only beaten Idaho State eight years in a row at best. We do lead the Idaho state series 28-11, where we trail the Boise State Rivalry 22-17-1.

Our Protective Rivals provided by the Big Sky does not include Idaho State, meaning we will not play each other every year. Conferences are changing all the time and something may change before they fall off our schedule for a few years. If not, however, there is still a solution to keep the game going! It is not uncommon in the Big Sky Schools to schedule other Big Sky Schools out of conference. We could do a Home-and-Home series until they are back on the schedule.

Is this perfect? Nah. But sometimes it is best to move on.

We went through a messy breakup with Boise State, and we may never talk again. We can do the healthy thing and move on. Sure, Idaho State is not as sexy as Boise State was. Hell, might not even be more intelligent either.  But we have a shot at a healthy, fun, relationship we can grow old with while Boise State stays alone, bitter and jealous for the rest of time. Someday, perhaps, their big bowls games and top rankings will go away and they will be left with nothing. Meanwhile, everyone in the state will be getting ready for Idaho vs. Idaho State, the new Battle for Idaho.

One thought on “Killing Off an Old Rivalry For a New One May Be The Best Way To Win The Old One

  1. U-Idaho now enjoys a 28-12 win/loss record against Idaho State. I agree both institutions need to be rivals. It was encouraging that more than 11K people attended the last game and it was encouraging that UI fans sold out their allotment. Next year it will be interesting to see how many ISU fans make the trip to Moscow. When I attended UI (1986-1990) the Bengal faithful did not travel well. Therefore, I hope ISU fans will be motivated to make the trip to Moscow. If ISU travels well and sells out the Kibbie Dome it will make economic sense for UI and ISU to play every year.

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