The Idaho football team closed out the 2016 season with five straight wins, including a 61-50 victory over Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
But the Vandals’ 9-4 season apparently didn’t do much to impress Sun Belt Conference coaches, who picked Idaho to finish sixth in the 12-team league in a preseason coaches’ poll released Thursday.
“We are excited to get the season going,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said in a press release. “We are going to build off our success from last year. We know this is a tough conference, but we are working hard to win another bowl game this season.”
Appalachian State collected seven first-place votes and 136 total points to claim the No. 1 spot.
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Troy, which opens the season at Boise State on Sept. 2, was picked second with two first-place votes and 127 points.
Arkansas State (122 points) received one first-place vote to land at No. 3, and South Alabama (98) was fourth in the poll. Louisiana-Lafayette (95, No. 5) and New Mexico State (41, No. 10) received the other first-place votes.
Idaho, which is playing its final season in the Sun Belt before joining the Big Sky in 2018, tied for third in the Sun Belt in 2016. The Vandals return starting quarterback Matt Linehan, who ranks second among active FBS players in passing yards with 8,696 yards going into the 2017 season.
On Friday, Vandals defensive lineman Aikeem Coleman and offensive lineman Jordan Rose were named to the preseason all-Sun Belt first team, while linebacker Tony Lashley earned second-team recognition.
Sun Belt Preseason Coaches’ Poll
School (1st-place votes)
1. Appalachian State (7)
2. Troy (2)
3. Arkansas State (1)
4. South Alabama
5. Louisiana-Lafayette (1)
7. Georgia Southern
8. Georgia State
10. New Mexico State (1)
11. Texas State
12. Coastal Carolina