State Colleges

Idaho State’s only chance at playoff bid hinges on win against No. 3 Weber State

Idaho State quarterback Tanner Gueller threw for 492 yards and eight touchdowns as the Bengals routed in-state rival Idaho 62-28 on Oct. 6 in Pocatello’s Holt Arena.
Idaho State quarterback Tanner Gueller threw for 492 yards and eight touchdowns as the Bengals routed in-state rival Idaho 62-28 on Oct. 6 in Pocatello’s Holt Arena. Idaho State Athletics

Idaho State dropped out of the FCS polls this week after a loss at Cal Poly, but the Bengals aren’t out of playoff contention just yet.

The Bengals host No. 3 Weber State in their Big Sky regular-season home finale with an opportunity to make their case for an at-large FCS playoff bid. Kickoff is 2:35 p.m. Saturday at Holt Arena in Pocatello.

“We still have a lot to play for. We’re guaranteed third place regardless of the outcome, but with a win we have second place,” Idaho State coach Rob Phenicie said during his weekly press conference. “To go from being predicted 12th in the conference to second is quite a feat by these young men.

“Playing for seven wins, undefeated at home and then we’re going to force the (playoff) committee to make a decision. That’s what we want to do.”

It’s a tall task for the Bengals (6-4, 5-2 Big Sky), who are just 14-42 against the Wildcats (8-2, 6-1), and both teams have a lot on the line Saturday.

Weber State is still in contention for the Big Sky championship along with Eastern Washington and UC Davis. The conference champ earns an automatic playoff spot.

“It’s going to be quite the battle,” Phenicie said. “They’re playing for a lot. We’re playing for a lot. It’s a good game to have a lot of meaning this time of year.”

Idaho closes season on national television

Idaho wraps up its 2018 schedule with a trip to No. 15 Florida for a nationally televised nonconference makeup game.

The Gators (7-3) and Vandals (4-6) were set to square off on Aug. 30, 2014, in Gainesville, but the game was ultimately canceled due to unsafe field conditions following more than four hours of lightning delays in combination with torrential rains.

Saturday’s game, which starts at 10 a.m. MT, will be broadcast on ESPNU and is the first meeting between the two programs.

BYU set for home finale

Saturday’s game against New Mexico State (8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN2) will be the final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium for 25 BYU seniors, including Eagle High alum Tanner Mangum.

BYU needs one win over its last two games to become bowl eligible, and the Cougars (5-5) have their best chance against the Aggies (3-7). BYU plays at No. 21 Utah next week.

“It’s always a goal. I think every team at the beginning of every season has the goal to get to a bowl game,” BYU running back Matt Hadley said in a press release. “Particularly if you’re independent, you don’t have a chance to go play for a conference championship.”

BYU has won its two previous meetings against New Mexico State by an average score of 46.0 to 10.5.

C of I finishes season ranked

In its final game of the 2018 season, College of Idaho dispatched Montana State Northern 59-28 to finish the year on a six-game winning streak.

The Yotes (6-5) were rewarded for their efforts with the highest ranking in program history, sitting at No. 22 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll.

Their climb up the rankings was not enough to earn a spot in the playoffs, however.

The five at-large bids were awarded to No. 5 Northwestern (Iowa), No. 8 St. Francis (Ind.), No. 11 Cumberlands (Ky.), No. 12 Baker (Kan.) and No. 13 Concordia (Mich.)

C of I was the sixth team on the bubble for the last at-large bid, based on the final ranking.