With three wins this season and three more games left on the schedule, the University of Idaho football team still has a shot at becoming bowl eligible for the second year in a row if it can win out.
The Vandals’ remaining Sun Belt games are against Coastal Carolina (1-9, 0-6 Sun Belt), New Mexico State (4-5, 2-3) and Georgia State (6-3, 5-1).
All five of Idaho’s conference games this season have been one-possession contests decided in the final minutes, and its three league losses are by a combined 11 points.
Coming off a bye, Idaho (3-6, 2-3) hosts the one-win Chanticleers on Saturday in the Kibbie Dome (3 p.m. MT, ESPN3), where it will honor 15 seniors, including quarterback Matt Linehan.
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But Linehan’s status for Saturday’s game is uncertain after he sustained an injury to his throwing arm in a 24-21 loss to Troy on Nov. 2.
“It’s been nice. Matt’s got 10 days of rest, and we’re still not sure on him. We’ll probably know that in a couple more days,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said during Monday’s Sun Belt teleconference. “Good thing is, him being a four-year starter, he understands everything that we’re doing. So if he’s ready to go when it’s game time, he’ll play.”
Against Troy, Linehan moved to No. 2 in program history with 10,772 passing yards, eclipsing John Friesz (10,697, 1986-89). He is 52 yards shy of tying Doug Nussmeier’s school record of 10,824 from 1990 to 1993.
If Linehan can’t play, Petrino said sophomore Mason Petrino will get the start, and freshman Colton Richardson will be the backup.
ISU plays season finale
Idaho State travels to Weber State for its final game of the Big Sky regular season Saturday (2 p.m., WatchBigSky.com).
The Wildcats (8-2, 6-1), who are trying to clinch a share of the Big Sky title, have won 13 of the last 14 meetings against the Bengals (4-6, 2-5).
BYU goes for another win
The Cougars (3-8) have a chance to post back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they host UMass (3-7) on Saturday (1 p.m. MT, ESPN3).
Quarterback Joe Critchlow is expected to make his second straight start after becoming the first true freshman in Cougars history to get a road win in his first start, according to the Daily Herald.
Critchlow took over for Eagle High graduate Tanner Mangum, who ruptured his Achilles tendon against Fresno State.
How ’bout them Yotes?
Filling in for injured starter Darius-James Peterson, who set a single-season rushing record this year for College of Idaho quarterbacks, Tyler Cox passed for a career-high 320 yards and tied a school record with four touchdown tosses to fuel a 45-22 victory over Montana State-Northern on Saturday in Caldwell.
The Yotes (6-5, 6-4 Frontier Conference) closed the season with three straight wins, the last two at Simplot Stadium, to reach the six-victory plateau for the first time since 1959 and compile their first winning season since 1969.
Cox, a Boise High product, threw three of his TD passes in the first half to stake C of I to a 28-16 lead. On the day he had scoring strikes of 34 yards to Wes Fitzpatrick, 15 yards to Keegan Crafton, 52 yards to Ben Hruby (Bishop Kelly) and 31 yards to Shayne Robinson. Fitzpatrick led the receiving corps with 115 yards on four receptions, and Robinson had 80 yards on five catches.
Cox also rushed for 123 yards on just 15 carries to lead the Yotes’ ground attack against the Polar Bears (1-10, 0-10), and Nik Lyons had a 72-yard punt return for a score. C of I had 561 yards of offense.