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Idaho’s upcoming Sun Belt opponents announced

Idaho coach Paul Petrino must have some friends down in New Orleans at the Sun Belt offices, because the Vandals' conference slate is likely about to get easier. 

The Sun Belt Conference announced the 2016 conference opponents for each school on Friday afternoon. 

Currently, the Sun Belt's 11 teams play an eight-game schedule. That means Idaho will have to miss playing a couple of teams, and that could help the effort to become bowl eligible. 

Idaho, which went 4-8, 3-5 in Sun Belt Conference play in 2015, gets to skip playing Georgia Southern and Arkansas State and instead will host Georgia State and travel to Louisiana-Lafayette. 

Arkansas State won the Sun Belt in 2015 with a perfect 8-0 record, falling to Louisiana Tech in the New Orleans Bowl. The Red Wolves beat a Matt Linehan-less Idaho squad 49-35 in Jonesboro. Georgia Southern finished 9-4 this season, running all over Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl in its second season as an FBS program. The Eagles won the Sun Belt title in their first season as an FBS member. Georgia Southern ran for 441 yards in a 44-20 win over the Vandals at the Kibbie Dome this season. 

Idaho will host Georgia State in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The Panthers went 6-7 this past season, falling to San Jose State in the Cure Bowl, but will need to replace the prolific production of graduating All-Sun Belt quarterback Nick Arbuckle.

Idaho's trip to Lafayette will be the first meeting between the two schools since a 35-28 Idaho win at the Kibbie Dome in 2004, also a Sun Belt Conference contest at the time. The Rajun Cajuns had an uncharacteristically rough season in 2015, finishing 4-8 after four consecutive nine-win seasons under Mark Hudsepth. 

Per a source, the Sun Belt will drop a home game with Texas State in 2017 and send newcomer Coastal Carolina to Moscow to complete the conference schedule. 

Here are the 2016 and 2017 schedules for Idaho. 2016 opponents are listed by conference and with 2015 records. 

- - - - -

2016

Thurs, Sep. 1 - vs. Montana State, Big Sky, 5-6
Sep. 10 - at Washington, Pac-12, 7-6
Sep. 17 - at Washington State, Pac-12, 9-4
Sep. 24 - at UNLV, Mountain West, 3-9

Home Sun Belt:
Georgia State, 6-7
Troy, 4-8
New Mexico State, 3-9
South Alabama, 5-7

Road Sun Belt:
Lafayette, 4-8
Appalachian State, 11-2
Louisiana-Monroe, 2-11
Texas State, 3-9

2017
Sep. 9 - vs. UNLV, Mountain West
Sep. 16 - Open. Either bye or conference game. 
Sep. 23 - at Wastern Michigan, MAC
Sep. 30 - at Nevada, Mountain West
Oct. 21 - at Missouri, SEC

Home Sun Belt:
Lafayette
Appalachian State
Louisiana-Monroe
Coastal Carolina

Road Sun Belt:
Georgia State
Troy
New Mexico State
South Alabama




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Sean Kramer
Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.





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