Junior quarterback Matt Linehan completed 29-of-36 passes for four touchdowns and a career-high 476 yards, the fourth most in school history, to lead Idaho over New Mexico State 55-23 on Saturday.
The Vandals (4-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) cranked out 651 yards of total offense and moved within two games of becoming bowl eligible. The Aggies fell to 2-4, 1-2.
“Today we were rolling on all 11. It was fun. It was fun calling plays today,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said.
For the first time since 2010, Idaho had three wide receivers with 100-yard games (Deon Watson for 129, Alfonso Onunwor for 117 and Jordan Frysinger for 102).
The Vandals had their highest point total, and their largest margin of victory over an FBS opponent, since beating Louisiana Monroe 58-20 in a Sun Belt game Nov. 15, 2003.
“We were staying confident in ourselves,” Linehan said. “It was confidence in every phase of the game. O-line has done a really good job the last two weeks of keeping me upright. The receivers just made plays today.”
Said senior defensive tackle Tueni Lupemanu, who had one of the Vandals’ five sacks: “We believe. We all believe. We all bought in. Don’t flinch when something bad happens.”
Linehan tossed touchdown passes to Watson (8 yards), Onunwor (7), Aaron Duckworth (19) and Frysinger (78). Linehan added a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to make it a 55-16 game.
Linehan moved past his dad Scott Linehan, now the offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys, into sixth on the school’s career passing yards list with 7,101.
Junior defensive end Aikeem Coleman had two sacks as Idaho limited the Aggies to 428 yards of offense.
The Vandals play their next three games at Appalachian State (next Saturday in North Carolina), Louisiana (Nov. 5) and Texas State (Nov. 12). Appalachian State is 4-2 (2-0 Sun Belt) after a 24-0 win over Louisiana last week.
“Let’s go play the best and find out where we’re at,” Petrino said.