While the infamous King Spud remains ever elusive, Vandal coach Jason Eck unearthed another traveling trophy earlier this week that many thought had been lost to Father Time.
Seemingly buried somewhere deep in a Kibbie Dome storage closet and collecting dust for more than two decades was the Governor’s Cup—an impressive prize standing three feet tall with a golden tailback perched atop in a Heisman-esque pose.
Prior to Idaho’s departure to the Big West Conference, the trophy was awarded to the annual winner of the regional matchup with Eastern Washington. The rivalry first earned its nickname in 1984 when governors John Evans (ID) and John Spellman (WA) watched a tenacious Eagles crew pull off a seven-point upset at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane.
But when Idaho made the leap to the FBS in 1998, both the trophy and the moniker were lost. Montana quickly snagged the role of Governor’s Cup contender and carved out its own history with Eastern Washington.
When news of the trophy’s discovery was announced on Twitter earlier this week, fans immediately began to brainstorm a new nickname. Many suggestions were tied to the region’s reputation for legume crops, such as the “Chickpea Cup” or the “Lentil Ladle.” Another popular option (and my personal favorite) included a reference to the tallest geographic midpoint between the two schools—the Battle for Steptoe Butte.
But by and large, the general consensus among Vandal fans is that the traveling trophy should be dubbed the Palouse Cup. Whatever the official “rebrand” may be, the two gridiron squads will once again add to their renowned rivalry when they battle for the golden prize at the Kibbie Dome on Saturday afternoon.
OPPONENT: Eastern Washington (2-6 overall, 1-4 Big Sky) enters the matchup on a surprising down year for the traditional powerhouse. Coach Aaron Best has racked up a record of 43-23 during his six seasons at the helm and will be hoping his team can bounce back after a furious fourth quarter rally fell short against Portland State last week. Quarterback Gunner Talkington has one of the better arms in the conference and has already racked up more than 2,000 yards through the air this season. He will be looking to further develop his chemistry with wideouts Freddie Roberson and Efton Chism III, who boast a combined 1,159 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.
IMPACT PLAYERS: Although wideout Hayden Hatten has been lighting up the scoreboard recently, the No. 15 Vandals (5-3 overall, 4-1 Big Sky) will be looking to establish the ground game early in this contest. Anthony Woods currently leads the squad with 585 yards on 101 rushing attempts, but Aundre Carter has broken into the scene in recent weeks with an eye-popping average of 10.4 yards per carry. With tailbacks Roshaun Johnson and Elisha Cummings also looking to establish a rhythm, fans might see a little more emphasis on the rushing attack.
FUN FACT: The last time these two teams met at the Kibbie Dome, a controversial call negated a field goal by Eastern Washington kicker Seth Harrison when the ball appeared to go directly between the uprights before deflecting off the scoreboard. Not only did the play go viral on social media, but the Big Sky Conference was forced to issue a statement in which it acknowledged the error and blamed the “physical set up of the scoreboard and catwalk” at the Kibbie Dome for the mistake.
Idaho 42, EWU 21 (Josh)
Idaho 56, EWU 20 (Marten)
Idaho 45, EWU 20 (Brian)
Idaho 45, EWU 17 (Dallas)