In case you haven’t noticed, there is some quality football being played in the state of Idaho and no, I’m not just talking about Boise State.
There hasn’t been much to be excited about in the city of Moscow, Idaho as of late and why should there be?
Coming into the 2009 season, the University of Idaho Vandals football team had only won six conference games since joining the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 2005.
Even worse, over the past two seasons Idaho went 1-15 in the WAC. Not to mention the Vandals haven’t had a winning season since 1999 when they were a member of the Big West Conference.
So Saturday’s trip to the Kibbie Dome should be a breeze for the Fresno State Bulldogs right? Not so much.
Idaho coach Robb Akey has his team and the entire city of Moscow believing in something special.
The Vandals are 7-2, bowl-eligible and are well on their way to the program’s first bowl game since 1999.
Idaho’s getting votes in the Top 25 polls, receiving coverage from ESPN and the Vandals are off to their best start since 1994. I’m actually double-checking myself as I’m telling you this.
Local Vandal fans have even dubbed their home stadium, the Kibbie Dome, “Thunderdome.” Wonder how Ryan Mathews feels about portraying “Mad Max?”
After years of dwindling in futility, bouncing around from conference to conference and being labeled the WAC’s perennial doormat, Idaho is doing the conference a huge favor with its performance this season.
Besides the Vandals’ intrastate neighbor in Boise, the WAC has a vast reputation of being one of the worst mid-major conferences in Division I-A.
So if supporters of smaller schools and a playoff system ever want to see a bracket system come to fruition, it’s going to take performances like Idaho’s to make our conference legit.
Some Bulldog fans may hate Boise State, but if the rest of the conference programs don’t start keeping up, the Broncos may vacate the WAC and look for a conference that gives them a better chance to compete on the national level (i.e. the Mountain West with TCU, Utah and BYU).
Admit it, without the Broncos the WAC won’t get many looks.
Teams like Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii have shown that they can make a noise on a national scale, but no other team in the WAC has been able to establish consistency like the Broncos.
There’s a reason Boise State has won six out of the last seven conference championships.
A perfect situation would be the day when schools in the WAC can look at the conference schedule and not circle particular games as “certain wins.”
That may be a long way off, but if Idaho can rise up out of the abyss, anyone can.
In the long run, winning half of your conference games by 20 or more points isn’t something to be happy about.
So when you’re curled up on Saturday night with your post-Halloween candy leftovers and you’ve finally locatedÂ ESPNU among the 3,000 channels on your dish, don’t be too concerned if Fresno State isn’t winning by a substantial margin.
Settle in for an old-fashioned WAC shootout, it’s just what the conference needs.