Homecoming festivities are becoming a familiar sight for the Idaho football team. In addition to their own Homecoming game, the Vandals have played in the Homecoming games of three of their opponents, including a 59-14 loss at Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford.
But when you look at the Rebels’ schedule it’s not surprising that they scheduled a young Vandal team for their Homecoming game. Ole Miss has one of the toughest schedules in the nation, including five games against teams currently ranked in the top 13 in the BCS standings. Those include losses to No. 1 Alabama, 2012 Heisman winner wielding Texas A&M and a future game against No. 9 Missouri.
After experiencing a tough SEC slate, it’s not surprising that the 5-3 Rebels dismantled a young and battered 1-7 Vandal squad.
“A butt kicking, I don’t know what else we take away — a check to pay the bills,” said Idaho coach Paul Petrino, on what the Vandals take away from the loss.
“We just have to show up tomorrow, work hard and get better,” Petrino said.
Third-string quarterback Taylor Davis started his first game of the season as the Vandals came off a bye week heading into the game against Ole Miss. Davis came in for an injured Chad Chalich in an Oct. 12 showdown with Arkansas State. Second-string quarterback Josh McCain was also out with an injury he sustained Oct. 5 against Fresno State.
Davis struggled to find his receivers going 12-30 passing for 166 yards against the Rebels. The fifth-year senior’s highlight play of the night came on a 62-yard touchdown pass to speedster Dezmon Epps in the third quarter. Epps caught the ball despite pass interference by the Rebel defender and raced in for Idaho’s second and final touchdown of the night.
Epps was a bright spot for a Vandal team that struggled both offensively and defensively at Ole Miss. Of Idaho’s 253 yards of total offense, Epps had 89 — more than twice as many as the next Vandal.
“That was a good play, it was a good play by Dez. I thought he did some good things today,” Petrino said. “He’s been one of our bright spots this year. I think he’s going to be a really good player by next year.”
Ole Miss had several big plays of its own. The Rebels followed Epps’ touchdown with a 64-yard touchdown on the following drive. Ole Miss running back I’Tavius Mathers ran the ball in to bring the score to 45-14 Ole Miss late in the third quarter. The Rebels also had a 65-yard touchdown earlier in the game and two other scores from more than 30 yards out in the fourth quarter. In all, the Vandals allowed 572 yards of total offense on the night.
“I thought our guys fought pretty hard for the most part but we still have a long ways to go,” Petrino said.
The Vandals return to the Kibbie Dome this week for a matchup against Texas State on Saturday for Dad’s Weekend.
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The trip to Ole Miss was Idaho’s third trip to an opponents’ Homecoming game.
The game marked the first time the Vandals and Rebels faced each other on the football field.
It was Idaho’s first trip to Mississippi in more than 40 years.
Ole Miss has one of the toughest schedules in the nation with five games against teams currently ranked in the top 13 in the BCS standings including a loss at No. 1 Alabama.
Epps’ 62-yard TD reception was the second longest of the season for Idaho. Richard Montgomery had a 64-yard TD reception against Temple.