The day has finally arrived for Idaho fans -- they get to see the Vandals play in the postseason for the first time since 1998. Greeting them in Boise this morning is a fresh blanket of snow, a good 2 inches worth.
Click below for links and a breakdown of the Humanitarian Bowl. You can also follow my in-game updates at twitter.com/SR_JoshWright.
- The Idaho Statesman had this look at Max Komar, this piece on Freddie Barnes, and a Brian Murphy column.
- The Lewiston Tribune had a Matt Baney column, an advance and a sidebar on Barnes.
- The Idaho Press-Tribune has this look at Robb Akey's hiring.
It's hard to say what effect the snow will have. The forecast calls for the snow to taper off by 11 a.m. or noon, so once it's shoveled off the field both high-powered offenses probably won't lose much traction.
Idaho's main focus, of course, will be not letting BG's aerial attack find consistent rhythm. When the Vandals' D had success earlier in the year -- before it gave up 250 points in the last five games -- it was because the defensive line (particularly Jonah Sataraka and Aaron Lavarias) was applying just enough pressure.
The thing is, the Vandals only accounted for 14 sacks all year (that's just two more than Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, just in case you're interested). On a positive note for UI, Bowling Green hasn't been terribly successful in protecting QB Tyler Sheehan. He's been sacked 28 times.
How UI handles Barnes and BG's passing attack will be tied, in part, to how well the Vandals run the ball. The Falcons' rush defense is ranked 103rd in the nation (they're allowing 193 yards per game). If the Vandals can play ball-control with DeMaundray Woolridge, Princeton McCarty and Deonte Jackson (while depending on their diverse passing game too, of course) -- that should bode well.
Other things to keep your eye on:
- How will both teams handled the month-plus layoff? This much time between games can lead to unpredictable results.
- Can the Vandals start well? That's been the biggest bugaboo of the latter portion of the season, of course. Idaho has been outscored 94-21 in the first quarter of the last give games. You would have to think, with so many UI fans in Bronco Stadium today, that this would be the game they can snatch early momentum.
- How will BG run the ball? There are only six FBS teams that have been less productive than the Falcons on the ground (they average 81 yards per game). The Vandals can't afford to let BG tailbacks Wille Geter and Chris Bullock to get going, not with Freddie Barnes and the Falcons' throw game liable to go off.