Next week, Vandal Nation will predict the optimistic, realistic and pessimistic results of the Vandals’ 12-game slate. Here is a snippet of the realistic chances that the Vandals have of winning each game. On a scale of 1-10, we rate how winnable the games are for Idaho.
Aug. 30 v. Eastern Washington
The first question anybody should ask about this game is what Rob Spear was thinking when he scheduled it. Eastern Washington has been one of the best FCS programs in the country for years, even before their national champion run in 2010. The Eagles will drive down from Cheney with a good chance of winning this game. They feature SMU transfer Kyle Padron at quarterback and have three FCS Pre-season All-Americans at wide receiver. Idaho should win this game, but can’t afford poor play—especially defensively and in the secondary.
Prediction: Idaho 27
Eastern Washington 18
Win-ability: 9 Sep. 8 at Bowling Green
The Humanitarian Bowl rubber match. The Vandals made it look like more offensive fireworks were coming from both sides when the first possession of the 2011 season put Idaho up 7-0. Then Matt Schilz threw a 76-yard touchdown pass down the sideline, and the entire season was downhill from there. Want bowl eligibility? Idaho has to win this one.
Prediction: Bowling Green 24 Idaho 20
Sep. 15 at LSU
Let’s just hope that nobody gets hurt.
Prediction: LSU 51 Idaho 10
Sep. 22 v. Wyoming
The swing game of the year will come when a very solid Mountain West program led by Dave Christensen comes to Moscow. Wyoming should in all likelihood be favored.
Prediction: Wyoming 27 Idaho 21 Win-ability: 6
Sep. 29 at North Carolina
Surely, many Vandal fans will remember the near upset last season at Virginia. North Carolina is a similar middling ACC program that will embark on a rebuilding process. Best chance of upset? Just kick the PAT.
Prediction: North Carolina 31 Idaho 17
Oct. 6 v. New Mexico State
There should be a trophy for this one – The Orphan Bowl trophy. The new programs should see a lot of each other in the near future— playing twice a year if both can make independence work. This game will be Homecoming for Idaho, and should be WAC victory number one.
Prediction: Idaho 26 New Mexico State 14
Oct. 13 at Texas State
The Bobcats will be in year No. 1 as a full FBS program before joining the Sun Belt next year (say hi to Karl Benson for us, will ya?). This is a hard game to project, but this could be a tough road environment for Idaho. It could also be Idaho’s easiest road game.
Prediction: Idaho 20 Texas State 17
Oct. 20 at La. Tech
There is a good chance that La. Tech coach Sonny Dykes won’t be in Ruston, La. long enough to see the program transition to Conference-USA. He could be one of the hottest coaching targets in the country if the Bulldogs dominate the WAC as many expect they will. Idaho might hate the state of Louisiana by the time this game is over.
Prediction: La. Tech 28 Idaho 14
Oct. 27 Bye week:
Better BYE than BYU.
Nov. 3 v. San Jose State:
The Spartans will visit the Kibbie Dome this year for Dad’s Weekend, which means Vandal dads should be in for a good game. Last season in San Jose, Idaho rallied from behind to secure its only victory against an FBS opponent. Expect a similar close match-up this year.
Prediction: Idaho 26 SJSU 17
Nov. 10 at BYU
It might not be fair to use last year’s game as a barometer for how the 2012 match-up could play out. Idaho’s offense was beyond repair — coaches had seemingly tried everything by that point. Don’t be surprised to see Idaho show a lot more fight this time around, especially with its ability to sustain drives. The Cougars have borderline BCS conference talent, so a win is still unlikely.
Prediction: BYU 31 Idaho 14
Nov. 17 v. Texas-San Antonio
A former national champion will lead the Roadrunners into the Kibbie Dome during the program’s second year of existence. Unfortunately for Idaho, their most winnable home game won’t count toward bowl eligibility—UTSA is not yet a full FBS member. They’ll also be joining Conference-USA next season. Let that sink in for a second as an Idaho fan.
Prediction: Idaho 30 UTSA 16
Nov. 24 at Utah State
The last time the Vandals stepped in to Romney Stadium they beat down the Aggies by 22 points. Utah State lost NFL talent in Robert Turbin and Bobby Wagner, but by game No. 12, that probably won’t be as big of a factor. Last year’s contest in the Kibbie Dome took double OT to decide before Utah State broke through. The Aggies should be favored, but there’s no reason to think the upset is an impossible task here.
Prediction: Utah State 28 Idaho 17
Overall record: 5-7