RECAP: Vandals Brave the Cold for a Bold Win Against Colorado State
With a huge win against Colorado State University Thursday night, the University of Idaho Vandals move to a 3W-0L bowl record, maintaining their undefeated status. This was, by far, the most fun I've ever had at a football game, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, even with the below-freezing temperatures.
We arrived at our seats about forty-five minutes before kickoff, and as people began spilling into the stadium it was pretty obvious that Vandal fans were the majority in the stadium. This was to be expected since the game was in the Vandal home state. We had tickets in the second row behind CSU’s bench, but there was a glob of Vandals all around us, including one of my good college buddies, so we still felt at home. Prior to the start of the game, both bands took the field one at a time to do their pregame show for the crowd. The Vandal marching band started it off with their typical chaotic, screaming sprint to their positions on the field. They did their thing, played the fight song, and MAN it was loud at that stadium despite the fact it’s outdoors. Then the CSU marching band stepped onto the field in an organized fashion, did their thing, then played The Star-Spangled Banner. Three jets flew overhead on a queue at the end of the song, which was exciting enough to give me goosebumps.
CSU got the ball first and they managed to run the ball to the Vandal 45-yard line on the kickoff, only to get a personal foul called to take it back 15 yards. CSU’s quick running quickly made me wonder what it’s like to be the first team to take hits from the opposing backs as they’re running full speed trying to get past. The cold seemed to make the defense lay off a bit at the beginning of the game. The Vandals ended up stopping them on a 4th-and-1. The Vandals had a 3-and-out, then intercepted the ball, only to end up punting the ball back to the Rams. That was pretty much the story of the first quarter; no scoring, and mostly consisted of the two teams getting acclimated to the frigid weather.
The first score of the game didn’t come until the second play of the second quarter when the Rams threw a 52-yard bomb for a touchdown. On the following possession, the Vandals marched up the field with a good mix of run and pass and ended with a goal line punch for the touchdown. They did miss the extra point, which is very uncommon for the Vandals who have one of the best kickers in the nation who hadn’t missed an extra point all year. The Vandals had a 26-yard rushing touchdown to put them up 13-7. With about thirty seconds remaining in the half, the Vandals put up yet another touchdown with a quick bullet pass up the middle, making the score 20-7 going into halftime.
As the players began to warm up, it seemed as if the turf turned into a skating rink as they were sliding all over the place. It made for slow acceleration and soft corners on receiving routes. With the Vandals being the 13-point underdogs in this game, it was pretty exciting to see them UP 13 points at halftime. They were also set to receive the ball at the beginning of the second half.
The Vandals REALLY started making smart plays in the third quarter to eventually help boost their lead a significant amount. If Linehan was in trouble with no men open, he would throw it away. When the backs and wide-outs were close to a first down they would stretch their arms out for the extra yard. On the first drive of the second half, Linehan ended up running the ball in from ten yards out. He did a little dance, knowing they had a comfortable lead and he was a big reason for that. The Vandals caused a three-and-out on the Rams’ next possession, and they scored again quickly with a 75-yard bomb, extending the lead to 34-7. The Vandals scored again in a couple minutes of gameplay, extending the score to 41-7, making this the largest lead of the game we would see. The Rams scored one more touchdown before the third quarter ended, making the score 41-14. A lot of points were scored in that third quarter.
With such a huge lead, the Vandal defense seemed to give up in a big way. At that point, a comeback wasn't entirely out of the question, but it was a big deficit to make up. I’ve seen the Vandals blow some seemingly comfortable leads before, so I will say that they made me nervous. The last three minutes of the game seemed to last FOREVER. The Rams put up thirty-six points, making a noticeable dent in the deficit. However, the Vandals answered with 20 points of their own. I didn’t see it at the game, but the Vandals gave Petrino the Gatorade shower around that time. I don’t even want to think what that felt like in 15-degree weather. The final score was 61-50, giving the Vandals a big bowl win against a team they weren't supposed to defeat.
We went down to the field for the trophy presentation. Linehan was awarded MVP of the game. The Vandals hoisted the trophy and bounced right past my friends and I. If you were following the Instagram story you probably saw that. Linehan also made some comments about the Vandals getting booted out of the FBS after next season. The comments were directed towards President Staben of the University of Idaho. He quickly apologized for those emotionally charged comments in an interview later on. It is kind of sad, though; the Vandals get a HUGE bowl win a year before they have to move down to the FCS. One bowl win is great, but to have that level of opportunity taken away in about a year’s time is discouraging. Maybe I can do more research on that topic and talk about it another time.
Things to Note
- The Vandals didn’t turn the ball over once the entire game.
- It was the third-highest scoring college bowl game in history (111 points). For a dome-dwelling team, the Vandals showed something special in that cold weather. But this point wouldn’t be a thing if the Vandals would have been consistent on defense through the fourth quarter.
- Also, because the Rams came back in the fourth quarter, there were over 1200 yards of total offense. That is just ridiculous.
- CSU only lost to Boise State by five points earlier in the season (23-28). That really makes me wonder what would have happened if we were faced against the Broncos for the Idaho Potato Bowl. There were talks of that happening, too! I cannot begin to explain how awesome it would be to see the Vandals be Boise State on their turf. The late rivalry between the Vandals and Broncos made for some fun football games. I'll never forget the last time the Broncos came to the Kibbie Dome. It was a pretty rowdy crowd.
- The Vandals fed off the energy at the stadium every time they scored. When they scored the entire stadium went nuts. And when they came onto the field for the following kickoff, they got the crowd going again as if to transfer that confidence onto the defensive side of the ball.
This was a sweet, sweet win. Being a proud Vandal who has attended many losing games in my time at the University of Idaho, this was a great win to witness. My final score prediction of 30-28 was terribly wrong, but the team who came out on top was correct and that’s all that matters to me. I can now check “attend a bowl game” off my bucket list. Not only that but to “watch the Vandals win a bowl game” can also be checked off. With the cold winter months settling in for the season here in Idaho, attending games over the next few months will be pretty much impossible. I can’t wait to find out what games I’ll spoil myself with next year. When I DO find out, I’ll let you know.