The Idaho State football team already has done away with two unfavorable streaks this season, and the Bengals take aim at a third when they host Montana on Saturday at Holt Arena in Pocatello (2:30 p.m., WatchBigSky.com).
The Griz (3-2, 1-1) have won 11 straight against the Bengals and lead the series 44-13. Idaho State last won 43-40 in double overtime on Oct. 18, 2003.
“Big, physical defense. Big, physical offense. They go fast, like to throw the ball. They’ve got one of the brightest minds in college football coaching their offense,” Idaho State coach Rob Phenicie said of Montana. “It’s going to be a challenge for us just to stop them. They have a bunch of Division I transfers in their secondary, so they’ll probably come out and try to beat up our receivers.”
The Bengals’ 3-2 record is the best start for an Idaho State football team since the 2005 squad went 3-2 through its first five games. It is also only the second time since 2007 that Idaho State has had three wins in a season. The 2014 team went 8-4.
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Earlier this season, the Bengals ended a 27-game losing streak against FBS teams by beating Nevada 30-28.
“I know we’re going to look at their film, and our guys will probably be in awe about how good and big they are,” Phenicie said of Montana. “We’ll just have to hopefully get them ready to go. It’s going to be tough, but it’ll be fun.”
Vandals push for strong league start
With its 29-23 double-OT victory at South Alabama on Sept. 23, Idaho started Sun Belt play with a win for the first time since 2012.
The Vandals could improve that mark to 2-0 when they host Louisiana-Lafayette (1-3, 0-1) at 3:05 p.m. Mountain time Saturday in the Kibbie Dome (ESPN3). It is Idaho’s homecoming game, and the team is coming off a bye week.
“It’ll be a one-possession game. It’ll be within seven points probably, if not one point,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “I think it will be a really close game, probably won right at the end. That I know.”
Idaho (2-2, 1-0) hasn’t started conference play 2-0 since defeating New Mexico State and San Jose State to start the 2009 season in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, who were picked fifth in the preseason Sun Belt coaches’ poll just ahead of the Vandals, have lost three in a row and rank last in the FBS in points allowed at 53.8.
“This is going to be a physical game, and probably whatever team really tackles the best and plays with the best pad level, that’s probably who’s going to win,” Petrino said.
C of I takes on Carroll
A pair of one-win teams face off Saturday when Carroll College (1-3, 1-3) hosts The College of Idaho in Helena, Mont. (1 p.m., 99.1 FM).
The Yotes (1-4, 1-3 Frontier Conference) are paced by dual-threat quarterback Darius Peterson, who leads the team in rushing (396 yards) and also has thrown for 884 yards, with seven total touchdowns.
There are 54 former Idaho high school players on the two rosters.