The Idaho football team is on a four-game winning streak. Now the Vandals could be headed to Boise’s bowl game for the third straight time.
Junior quarterback Matt Linehan completed 15-of-19 passes for three touchdowns, Isaiah Saunders rushed for 99 yards and Idaho (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) took advantage of six turnovers to beat Georgia State 37-12 in the regular season finale in the Kibbie Dome on Saturday.
Idaho has won its four consecutive games by a combined score of 145-70.
The eight regular season wins is the most for Idaho since winning eight in 1998 before adding a ninth victory in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. Idaho also finished the 2009 season with eight wins after a second victory in the Humanitarian Bowl.
“Nobody outside this building thought we could do what we did this year,’’ Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “I wanted to get us to a bowl game. I wanted to make us winners. We went through some tough times, but everybody kept fighting and everybody kept working. Today was a great day.’’
The Vandals, whose bowl history includes only the two Boise games, will learn their bowl destination Sunday. Athletic Director Rob Spear has lobbied for the Arizona Bowl in Tucson on Dec. 30, but the Arizona Daily Star reported Saturday that ESPN wants a different Sun Belt team to play possibly Air Force in the game.
The Idaho Statesman is projecting Idaho will play Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium, with coverage on ESPN.
On Saturday, Linehan tossed his touchdown passes to three different seniors: Callen Hightower (11 yards), Trent Cowan (4) and Deon Watson (17).
Idaho intercepted four passes, with Jayshawn Jordan getting two and Kaden Ellis and D.J. Hampton each grabbing one. Lloyd Hightower added a 25-yard touchdown return of a blocked punt, and Austin Rehkow made 3-of-4 field goals, including a long of 45.
Idaho led 24-12 at halftime and shutout the Panthers (3-9, 2-6) in the second half.
Georgia State, which outgained Idaho 358-287, lost two fumbles. The Vandals gave up passing touchdown plays of 63 and 11 yards, but also scored 23 points off turnovers.