Idaho junior quarterback Matt Linehan threw for 336 yards and a touchdown as Idaho scored the final 33 points of the game to beat Texas State 47-14 on Saturday to become bowl eligible.
The Vandals (6-4, 4-2 Sun Belt) have allowed 27 points in their last two games after surrendering 36 per game in their first eight. The Bobcats (2-7, 0-5) were held to minus-18 yards rushing.
“It was huge,’’ Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of the victory. “I just got done telling them I’ve never been prouder of a bunch of assistant coaches and players in my whole life. They came through a lot. All this has happened, that has happened. ... They just stayed focused.
“We just keep getting better. It was a great team win.”
The Sun Belt’s bowl tie-ins are the New Orleans (vs. Conference USA), Dollar General in Mobile, Ala. (vs. MAC), Camellia in Montgomery, Ala., (vs. MAC), Cure in Orlando, Fla., (vs. American) and Arizona in Tucson (vs. Mountain West).
The Vandals’ postseason history includes two bowl games, both the Humanitarian in Boise: 2009 (def. Bowling Green 43-42) and 1998 (def. Southern Miss 42-35).
Linehan, who completed passes to nine different players, started Idaho’s scoring Saturday by throwing a 6-yard score to senior tight end Trent Cowan to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter. Linehan finished 26-of-33 with no interceptions.
Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones found Thurman Morbley on a 48-yard TD pass about a minute after Idaho scored, but the Vandals responded when 280-pound senior fullback/defensive tackle Tueni Lupeamanu rumbled in for a 1-yard touchdown run to force a 14-14 tie. Lupeamanu added a 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
In the second period, Idaho freshman running back Denzal Brantley scored from 2-yards out, and eight minutes later, sophomore running back Isaiah Saunders ran for a 24-yard score to make it 28-14. Linehan added a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Saunders rushed for 89 yards and senior tight end Deon Watson caught five passes for a game-high 116 yards.
Jones was 12-for-16 passing with 175 yards for the Bobcats.
The Vandals outgained Texas State 490-175 in total yards.