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Idaho Vandals season predictions: Vandals will find Big Sky success in their second year

DIRECTIONS: Collect as many points as possible before reaching the end of the season to learn the Vandals’ postseason fate.

RESTORE THE LEGACY: After return to the Big Sky Conference in 2018, Idaho brings better idea of what the league and its wide-open offenses are about. COLLECT 1 POINT

LEADERS EMERGE: Receivers Cutrell Haywood and Jeff Cotton catch everything thrown at them at preseason camp. COLLECT 1 POINT

DEFENSE FINDS A GROOVE: Tre Walker and Christian Elliss lead a linebacker corps that looks as strong as last year’s talented group. COLLECT 1 POINT

GAMEDAY: AUG. 31: Idaho at Penn State, 12:30 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Network/92.5 FM). Four Big Ten teams have fallen to FCS competition since 2007, but not this time. DEDUCT 5 POINTS

DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING: Several starters on offensive, defensive lines get dinged up against Nittany Lions. DEDUCT 3 POINTS

GAMEDAY: SEPT. 7: Idaho vs. Central Washington, 6 p.m. (Pluto TV/92.5 FM); Haywood and Cotton with long catches before the game gets out of reach. COLLECT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: SEPT. 14: Idaho at Wyoming, 2 p.m. (ESPN3/92.5 FM). Vandals pick up big win against an up-and-down FBS foe. COLLECT 10 POINTS

JUST FOR KICKS: All-American Cade Coffey takes advantage of Wyoming’s altitude to set both Idaho’s longest field goal and longest punt record. COLLECT 1 POINT

SETTLING ON A STARTER: After three games, one quarterback has stepped forward to seize the starting job. Only question, is it Colton Richardson or Mason Petrino? COLLECT 3 POINTS.

SHOCK AND AWE: Big Sky QBs don’t generally look across the line and find two 350-pound tackles glaring at them as Jonah Kim and Noah Johnson earn dynamic nickname. COLLECT 2 POINTS

GAMEDAY: SEPT. 21: Idaho vs. Eastern Washington, noon. (Root Sports/92.5 FM); Resurgent UI defense gets a pair of sacks and an interception against Eagles’ fleet QB Eric Barriere. COLLECT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: SEPT. 28: Idaho at Northern Colorado, noon. (Pluto TV/92.5 FM); The Bears (2-9) struggled worse than Idaho last year. Vandals roll. COLLECT 5 POINTS

REINFORCEMENTS TO THE RESCUE: The Vandals used a half-dozen running backs during preseason practice and it starts paying off with fresh legs. COLLECT 2 POINTS

GAMEDAY: OCT. 5: Idaho vs Weber State, 2 p.m. (SWX/92.5 FM); The Wildcats were 10-3 last year. But Idaho narrowly wins at home. COLLECT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: OCT. 12: Idaho at Portland State, 2:05 p.m. (Pluto TV/92.5 FM). Trap game! This one gets away. DEDUCT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: OCT. 19: Idaho vs Idaho State, 2:30 p.m. (Root Sports/ 92.5 FM); An improved defense won’t give up 62 points again on homecoming. Vandals rebound. COLLECT 5 POINTS

COTTON HONORED: Cotton catches three TDs against Bengals, named Big Sky player of the week. COLLECT 1 POINT

MISS A TURN: OCT 26: Open week.

GAMEDAY: NOV. 2: Idaho vs Cal Poly, 2 p.m. (Pluto TV/92.5 FM); Middle-of-the-pack Mustangs prove tough in Moscow, but Idaho wins. COLLECT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: NOV. 9: Idaho at Montana, noon. (Root Sports/92.5 FM); Can the Vandals manage a big road win at Washington-Grizzly Stadium? Not quite. DEDUCT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: NOV. 16: Idaho vs Sacramento State, 2 p.m. (SWX/92.5 FM); Montana was so last week. Vandals roll over Hornets. COLLECT 5 POINTS

GAMEDAY: NOV. 23: Idaho at Northern Arizona, 1 p.m. (Pluto TV/92.5 FM); Victory all but assures home playoff game. COLLECT 5 POINTS

ICING THE KICKER: Flagstaff is also at altitude, and Coffey does his thing again, setting new team single-game record for field goals. Afterward, he has to sit in a cold tub. COLLECT 1 POINT

PRAISE FOR PETRINO: After notching just his second winning season at Idaho, coach Paul Petrino is named the Big Sky Coach of the year. COLLECT 1 POINT

45 points or less: Bummer! Wait until next year

More than 45 points: Congrats! You’re headed to the FCS playoffs.

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