When Idaho coach Paul Petrino told reporters in August his Vandals would take some bumps this season, he undoubtedly had Saturdays game at No. 2 Florida State in the back of his mind.
Heading into the final weeks of the regular season, the matchup appears even more daunting, with the BCS-chasing Seminoles 10-0 and winning by 41 points per game.
Las Vegas is expecting perhaps the seasons biggest blowout, with a line of 56 (according to the Idaho Statesman service) or 57 points (according to other books) in the Seminoles favor as of Monday.
According to GoldSheet.com, no FBS team has been favored against another FBS team by that much since Miami (Fla.) was a 58-point favorite at home against Temple on Oct. 30, 1993. The Hurricanes were favored by 56 against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8, 2001, the last time an FBS team was favored by 56 or more against another FBS opponent.
Yet Petrino sees the game, which will pay Idaho $900,000, as a rare opportunity.
A lot of guys can go their whole lifetime and never play the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country, he said Monday. What we talked about (Sunday) was, You get to go play against the best. Everybody wants to judge themselves against the best.
Last season at Arkansas, Petrino coached against Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. His team will face the current front-runner in Florida State redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, who has completed 185-of-261 passes for 2,938 yards with 28 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Then there are the handful of likely early NFL Draft picks, like offensive tackle Cameron Irving, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and linebacker Christian Jones.
A lot of guys dream growing up to play in the NFL. Some guys wont be able to reach that dream, but in this game, theyre going to play a whole bunch of guys who are going to play in the NFL, Petrino said.
Even if his team lacks the sort of talent Florida State has, Petrino said hes hoping to see some of his players win individual battles. He noted that he still texts Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase reminding him he beat Robert Griffin III while he was at Baylor in the 2010 Texas Bowl.
(I say), Go challenge yourself, play against that guy every single rep and see where youre at, Petrino said. (Id like to) have a couple individual battles that hopefully we win they have that on tape forever that I went against that guy and I won.
It would be little comfort to Petrino that FBS teams that are 51-point underdogs or more are 8-1 against the spread in the last 20 years, but he said his teams preparation has improved and the Vandals wont lie down easily.
They should be excited to go play them, Petrino said.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn