Idaho Vandals

Idaho vs. Idaho State is back: ‘In order for it to be a rivalry, both teams have to win’

Idaho running back Isaiah Saunders, shown at Fresno State on Sept. 1, has 77 carries for 377 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Idaho running back Isaiah Saunders, shown at Fresno State on Sept. 1, has 77 carries for 377 yards and two touchdowns this season. AP

Idaho football coach Paul Petrino was an assistant coach with the Vandals from 1992 to 1994, so he knows all about the old in-state rivalry between Idaho and Idaho State.

His current players? Not so much.

For the first time since 2008, the two Gem State universities face off in football when the Bengals host the Vandals in a Big Sky Conference matchup at 3:35 p.m. Saturday in Pocatello. The game will be streamed online at

“It’s exciting. You just hear about all the old rivalries, what it used to be like playing at Idaho,” Idaho cornerback Dorian Clark said. “I think being able to experience that for the first time will be fun.”

Rekindling the rivalry has peaked interest throughout the state.

Idaho State interim athletic director Pauline Thiros anticipates a sellout at Holt Arena. That last occurred in 1984, when the Bengals lost their homecoming game against Boise State by a 26-23 score, according to the Idaho State Journal. As of Thursday afternoon, 10,145 tickets had been sold. Capacity at Holt Arena is 11,700.

“Basically this is the state championship,” Petrino said. “It’s two teams within the state and the same conference, so you go battle for it to see who wins. I think it’ll be a lot of excitement and should be a great atmosphere.”

Saturday also marks the first time ISU (3-1, 2-0 Big Sky) has hosted Idaho (2-2, 1-1) since Sept. 13, 1997, a game Idaho won 43-0. The Vandals lead the series 27-11.

“I couldn’t tell you the last time Idaho State beat Idaho ... but in order for it to be a rivalry, both teams have to win once in awhile,” Idaho State coach Rob Phenicie said during his weekly press conference. “So they probably don’t consider it a rivalry, and we certainly aren’t in the position to make it a rivalry.”

Idaho State last beat Idaho on Sept. 30, 1995. But that long drought could come to an end this weekend. The Bengals are 2-0 in the Big Sky for the first time since 1995 and are receiving votes in both national FCS polls.

Phenicie prefers to see his Bengals in the underdog role.

“There’s a lot of FBS talent on this team that they’ve been recruiting,” Phenicie said of the Vandals. “This is what amounts to an FBS game for us.”

Idaho just dropped down to the Football Championship Subdivision this season after 22 years as a Football Bowl Subdivision program. The Vandals previously won eight conference titles as a charter member of the Big Sky from 1963 to 1995.

Both teams have tried to avoid letting the history of the rivalry distract from their game preparation this week.

“We can’t make any one game bigger than the next,” Idaho State linebacker Christian Holland said. “It’s still early in the season.”

Notes: Idaho State is planning a “stripe-out.” Fans in sections A, C, E, G, J, M, O, Q, S and U are asked to wear orange. Fans in sections B, D, F, H, K, L, N, P, R and T wear black. ... Idaho fans in Boise and Twin Falls can catch a ride to Pocatello on the “Vandal Bus.” The round-trip ride costs $40 per person from Boise and $30 from Twin Falls. The Boise bus leaves at 9 a.m. from the Boise Outlet Mall. The Twin Falls bus leaves at 11 a.m. from Builders First Source in Jerome. ... A pregame Vandal tailgate starts at 12:30 p.m. at Bonneville Park in Pocatello and costs $20 at the door.

BYU, Utah State fight for wheel

Beginning in 1948, the winner of the BYU-Utah State football game has taken home a traveling trophy known as the Old Wagon Wheel.

Utah State (3-1) took possession of that wheel last season after forcing seven turnovers in a 40-24 victory, and now the Aggies have a chance to keep it for consecutive years for the first time since 1973-74.

“Last year, Utah State took it to us and beat us pretty handily, and that was frustrating,” BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum told The Salt Lake Tribune. “That was tough to take. There is a lot of emotion that goes into these games and so it is exciting to have a chance to go out and play them again.”

The 88th meeting between the in-state rivals kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) at BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium.

BYU (3-2) leads the series 48-36-3, including a mark of 28-17-1 when the game is played in Provo, Utah. The Cougars, who fell out of the national rankings with a 35-7 loss at No. 10 Washington last week, have one revenge win in their pockets already this season.

BYU avenged a 40-6 loss to Wisconsin in 2017 with a 24-21 victory on the Badgers’ home turf on Sept. 15.

Utah State was on a bye last week following three straight wins.

“Once you hit Monday, it’s onto the next. We’re not going to dwell on Washington, we’re not going to talk about it more than necessary, we’re just going onto the next,” Mangum said.

C of I celebrates homecoming

It’s been a rough go for The College of Idaho in 2018, but the winless Yotes hope to get a boost with their 42nd homecoming game.

C of I (0-5, 0-4 Frontier) hosts Carroll College (3-2, 2-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Simplot Stadium in Caldwell.