For some time now, it's felt like college football season was over in Moscow. The Vandals have been in some other part of the country or on a bye since Sept. 18. But now they're back -- and fittingly it's homecoming weekend.
We've got more about Idaho's conference tilt with New Mexico State, set for 2 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome, after the link.
You can read my advance for the SR here. Nick Jezierny of the Idaho Statesman has a nice analysis of the Vandals' bowl hopes (earlier in the week, we had a midseason report.) The Las Cruces Sun-News has an advance of today's game, focusing on Idaho's big-play ability.
With the way the schedule stacks up, the Vandals are in must-win territory today. Just don't tell that to coach Robb Akey. "I don’t know what a 'must-win' means, because every game is a must-win. I look at every game we play — we must win this football game. It’s the only game we get to play this week.
"I”m happy that we’ve got two of them (losses) that people aren’t happy about. I’m glad that the outside world has expectations. That’s a good thing."
The Vandals (3-3) will play the top three teams in the WAC over the next three weeks -- at Hawaii and home to Nevada and Boise State. Before entering the brutal stretch, this should be a nice confidence-building game against an opponent that's given up points in bunches and had trouble scoring (NMSU is 114th in scoring defense and 118th in scoring offense).
Last year Idaho started its surprising eight-win season with a 21-6 win at New Mexico State. That was DeWayne Walker's first game as the Aggies' coach, and since he's been impressed with the Vandals' turnaround. "A very good football team," he said. "Coach Akey has done a really good job there. ... They’re physical. They’re not maybe the most athletic team we’ve played, but they’re physical."
Indeed, the Vandals have some big, physical receivers -- led by Daniel Hardy and Eric Greenwood -- but they would love to show more of a nasty streak with their offensive line. The O-line was perhaps the most consistent part of last year's team, and this year it's been a question mark from week to week.
So, don't be surprised if the Vandals try to pound the Aggies -- at least more than the usually passing-focused offense does -- with a running game that's only been so-so so far. NMSU, if you're curious, has given up 227 yards a game on the ground.
We'll be back with updates at halftime and after the game. Also, I'll be posting updates throughout the day on my Twitter account.