The Idaho Vandals know they could have been playing for bowl eligibility Saturday in their season finale against Texas State in Moscow.
Two late-game collapses turned a potential four-game winning streak into a four-game losing streak, making sure the postseason was to be out of reach for a sixth straight season.
Instead, Idaho is playing for pride.
“We’re treating it like the biggest game of the year, we want to go out and play our very best game, send the seniors out with a win in their last game and have all kinds of momentum going into the offseason,” coach Paul Petrino said.
A win against the Bobcats would give the Vandals four this season, their most since 2010. Blowing 23- and 24-point leads in losses to New Mexico State on Oct. 31 and South Alabama on Nov. 7 were the difference between staying home and a few more weeks of football.
“It makes you hurt, makes you lose sleep at night, makes you think about it as you’re driving home, driving back to work,” Petrino said. “It’s definitely something you want to learn form, make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”
Petrino said his team has taken a step in the right direction by simply having those leads, or putting up a fight in a 55-34 loss at Auburn on Saturday. Of course, getting on the other side of those games is next. And winning the last game of the season is an excellent way to kickstart offseason workouts, he said.
“The first thing we’ve got to do is do everything we can ... so those seniors can walk out of here with a win in their last game. Then it’s very exciting looking forward to next year with all the young talent we have coming back,” Petrino said.
Texas State at Idaho
- When: 3 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Kibbie Dome (16,000; RealGrass Pro)
- TV: ESPN3
- Radio: KFXD (630 AM)
- Records: Idaho is 3-8, 2-5 in Sun Belt; Texas State State is 3-7, 2-4 (won at Louisiana-Monroe 16-3 on Thursday)
- Series: Texas State leads 4-3 (def. Idaho 35-30 on Oct. 4, 2014, in San Marcos in last meeting)
- Vegas line: Idaho by 2.5