In this week’s news conference, Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee talks about the team’s eight game losing streak, the success of Alyssa Charlston, and the talented youth core of his team.
With two weeks to go before college football kicks off, the sudden disintegration of the Western Athletic Conference has woken up sportswriters and bloggers from their fall camp reverie. We’ve got a compilation of the best (and bizarrest) writing on the WACsplosion.
- The latest-breaking development? Utah State confirms it, too, was approached by the MWC and offered membership — before either Fresno State or Nevada. But with honor and commitment, the Aggies refused to betray the WAC. Everyone left in the conference should consider USU their heroes. They rejected self-interested sabotage, and I hope they, and we, come out ahead for it.
- Sam Wasson’s BleedCrimson.net has a great rundown of this morning’s press conference with Karl Benson.
- SWX has a story on Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear’s press conference this afternoon. In short, Idaho is “committed” to staying with the WAC, come hell and high water. KXLY’s Ben Kaplan provides his take, too.
- ESPN’s Pat Forde examines the brutal history of the MWC and WAC’s “conference cannibalism.” Ray Ratto has similar thoughts at CBSSports.com.
- San Jose State is left in limbo, Jon Wilner writes in the Mercury News. Join the club, says Louisiana Tech — most damningly, the Bulldogs’ AD all but invites his program to be poached by another conference, preferably C-USA. Stephen Tsai of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser says Hawaii should quit the WAC and go independent.
- Whither BYU? Good question, as Cougar AD Tom Holmoe provides only cryptic answers to the Deseret News. “Things are playing out” indeed.
- Could Sacramento State and UC Davis save the WAC? That’s what the Sacramento Bee’s John Schumacher is wondering. The more Aggies the merrier, I suppose.
- Nevada got an offer it couldn’t refuse, or so says Scott Sonner. Yet Utah State did refuse it. Hmm.
- Silver and Blue Sports has a report on Nevada’s move up to the MWC. The Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray examines how the move might affect Wolf Pack programs.
- The Fresno Bee’s Dan Lyght and Bryant-Jon Anteola have a whole slew of stories on the Bulldogs’ jump to the MWC.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Tonight, Idaho visits the Silicon Valley to take on the Spartans of San Jose State, as the Vandals look to open their conference season with back-to-back road victories.
After getting a crucial road win at Hawaii on Saturday night, Don Verlin’s Vandals have a chance to head back home on a three-game winning streak — and with the WAC conference race looking tight as can be, every road win is precious.
Time constraints kept us from doing a full game preview, but the excellent Spartan Hoops has a game breakdown from the SJSU perspective.
We’ll have all the action for you from courtside in the Event Center. Pregame starts at 6:30 p.m., tipoff at 7.
As the semester winds down and academics heat up, we’re hitting the evening before we have a chance to get these posts up. Our apologies, but we do want to graduate eventually!
Last night featured a pair of disappointments for Idaho hoops — the men fell on the road to Cal State-Northridge, while the women lost at home against Wyoming. Both games saw the Vandals lead in the second half, but in neither case were they able to hang on for the win.
Today’s a day off for all the WAC men’s teams — for the first day in awhile, there’s nothing on the hardwood.
Sunday, of course, will be an Idaho basketball doubleheader in Memorial Gym. The women tip off against Saint Mary’s at noon, while the men face #25 Portland at 5 p.m. We’ll have Vandal Nation Live courtside coverage for both games. Look for our game preview tomorrow, along with a Vandal Spotlight on Jeff Ledbetter.
- The Vandal men built a 14-point lead in the second half against Cal State-Northridge, but blew it all down the stretch and fell, 95-93. We’ve got a game wrap and Don Verlin isn’t pleased. Gilberto Manzano of the Northridge Daily Sundial has a story from the Matador perspective.
- Idaho’s women dropped another one at home, once again squandering a lead against Wyoming to lose, 61-55. Ilya Pinchuk’s got the story for us, including a video interview with Jon Newlee. Gaylen Wood has the story for GoVandals.net, too.
- Storming the Floor has a great look at West Coast hoops in pictures.
- With a matchup preview of the Wolf Pack’s battle against Pacific, it’s the prolific Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal.
- Tomorrow’s rivalry battle between New Mexico State and New Mexico is a must-win if the Aggies want to salvage their non-conference season, says the Las Cruces Sun-News’ Jason Groves.
- Previewing tomorrow’s WAC battle between Boise State and New Mexico State, Sam Wasson of BleedCrimson.net has a Know The Foe with OBNUG.
- Ferd Lewis of the Honolulu Advertiser says Hawaii is expecting 40,000 fans in the stands for the Warriors’ pivotal game against Wisconsin. Hawaii must win to secure a bowl berth.
- In the day’s third WAC game, Louisiana Tech plays host to San Jose State, and as the Spartan Daily’s Ryan Buchan reports, the Spartans will be looking to send retiring coach Dick Tomey out with a victory.
- ESPN’s Graham Watson has a few things to watch for this weekend, particularly the street fight for the WAC’s bowl bids.
As the morning dawns and students flock back to campus, we’re down in the home stretch of the semester. It was an up and down weekend for Idaho sports, but this week promises to hold great opportunities on the hardwood.
On Saturday, Idaho ended its home football season with an disappointing loss to Utah State, after defensive breakdowns once again put the Vandals in a hole they couldn’t dig out of. But Don Verlin’s hoopsters provided a boost that night with a decisive home win over Eastern Washington to go to 4-1, their best start in decades.
Then, Sunday brought the first victory for Idaho’s women, who struggled early on with shooting woes and the loss of team leader Derisa Taleni. Offense was not a problem, as the Vandals whipped up on Louisiana-Lafayette, 90-66.
This weekend promises to be a historic one for Idaho sports, as #25 Portland comes calling in Moscow Sunday. The Pilots, who have beaten Oregon, UCLA and #22 Minnesota, may be the first nationally-ranked non-conference team to ever take on the Vandals at home. That game will tip off at 5 p.m. and is scheduled for the Cowan Spectrum.
Now for the links:
- The AP Poll is out, and after upsetting #22 Minnesota, UCLA and Oregon, the Portland Pilots are ranked #25 in the nation.
- Idaho’s women got their first win Sunday, and did it with an offensive explosion. Here’s the official writeup.
- With a 6-for-7 performance from beyond the arc, Steffan Johnson led Idaho to victory over Eastern Washington, and Marvin Jefferson provided an exclamation point jam. Here’s a photo gallery and writeup from GoVandals.net, too. We’ll have photos of our own up this afternoon.
- Last night, Nevada made a strong showing in the defending national champions’ house, taking North Carolina down to the wire despite their lack of depth. Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal has the story from Chapel Hill, N.C. (props to the RGJ for sending him on the road) and observes that the Wolf Pack can claim a moral victory.
- Chris Murray also has his weekly WAC Power Rankings, and the Vandals are atop the leaderboard.
- Spartan Hoops previews tonight’s huge home game for the Spartans — they take on Saint Mary’s.
- Daniel Lyght of the Fresno Bee reports from the Bulldogs’ loss to Santa Clara, and Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland isn’t happy. (h/t to Parsing the WAC)
- Hawaii is headed out on its only road trip of the non-conference season, and the Honolulu Advertiser’s Dayton Morinaga says it could be the tonic the slumping Rainbow Warriors need.
- ESPN.com is projecting, bizarrely, an Idaho/Northern Illinois rematch for the Humanitarian Bowl. Is there anyone who really wants to see that?
- CBS Sports, more interestingly, predicts an Idaho/Bowling Green battle in Boise.
- The Logan Herald-Journal’s Wade Denniston says the Aggies were hoping to give the Vandals a shootout — and did.
- The Denver Post’s John Henderson looks at the WAC’s singular mission: Get Boise State into the BCS.
- What was seemingly impossible last month is oh so tantalizingly close for the Hawaii Warriors — after three wins in a row, they can secure a berth in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl if they can take down Wisconsin this weekend, the Honolulu Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai reports.
After a chilly, foggy Friday, the weather gods have smiled on Moscow today — it’s a beautiful day for college football and basketball! The Vandals will take on Utah State at 2 p.m. in the Kibbie Dome and Eastern Washington at 7 p.m. in Mem Gym.
For the 7-4 Vandals, they’ll be looking for a Senior Day to remember as Idaho closes out its best regular season in a decade and looks ahead to its first bowl since 1998. After two ugly losses, QB Nathan Enderle should be back in action and ready to lead the Vandals to a momentum-building victory over the 3-8 Aggies.
We’ll bring you all the action from the Dome with play-by-play commentary, analysis and chat at Vandal Nation Live, starting at 1:30 p.m. with our pregame show. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. We’ll have scoring updates on the Vandal Nation Twitter as well.
At 6:30 p.m., or immediately following football, we’ll have Vandal Nation Live coverage of Idaho hoops, as the men look for their best Division I start since the 1982-83 season. Tip-off against the Eagles is scheduled for 7 p.m. Our game preview is here.
This Weekend in the WAC
New Mexico State takes on San Jose State at 5 p.m. in Dick Tomey’s best remaining chance at getting a WAC win before retirement. Navy visits Hawaii in a game the Warriors must win to keep their slim bowl hopes alive. We’ve got the lowdown on all three of today’s WAC contests here.
Yesterday, Boise State beat Nevada, 44-33, to clinch at least a share of the WAC championship. Louisiana Tech and Fresno State are idle.
- We’ve got our Better Know a Foe preview of the Aggies, thanks to Wade Denniston of the Logan Herald-Journal.
- The Lewiston Tribune’s Jesse Baumgartner says that with Enderle back, the Vandals should pull out an eighth win.
- Chiming in with his preview, the Spokesman-Review’s Josh Wright figures this game to be key in Idaho’s bowl dreams.
- Wade Denniston previews the game for the Logan Herald-Journal, noting the Aggies aren’t taking the Vandals lightly.
- Nick Jezierny of the Idaho Statesman has a great feature on “Diesel” DeMaundray Woolridge’s final home game.
After Boise State convincingly took down Nevada last night, three Western Athletic Conference games remain today and all have, if not bowl implications, some serious pride on the line.
Here’s the matchups, all times Pacific.
- Utah State (3-8, 2-5 WAC) at Idaho (7-4, 4-3 WAC), 2 p.m. (Altitude/ESPN360)
The Vandals are the feel-good story of the season and coach Robb Akey is a deserving candidate for National Coach of the Year. But when QB Nathan Enderle was sidelined by injury at the worst possible moment, Idaho dropped back-to-back games that weren’t ever close. With Enderle back in action, the Vandals are hoping to close out their miracle season on a high note — and grab the team’s first bowl berth of the century. Under first-year head coach Gary Anderson, the WAC’s blue Aggies have undertaken a turnaround campaign of their own. Any designs on postseason play evaporated long ago, but Utah State can still play spoiler on the Vandals’ Senior Day.
Idaho has won games, quite simply, by outscoring the other team. A “bend, don’t break” defense has struggled to contain opponents, particularly in the first half, and several of the Vandals’ victories have come only with last-minute comeback heroics. Yet, if there’s a team worse than Idaho on defense, it’s the Aggies. Utah State gives up an average of 450 yards per game — 210 on the ground, 240 through the air — and those numbers are just begging Enderle to put up what would be his fourth 300-yard passing game of the year and RB DeMaundray Woolridge his third 100-yard rushing performance. Aggie QB Diondre Borel and RB Robert Turbin are going to have to have the games of their lives — and Utah State’s defense will have to put up a season-defining performance — to beat Idaho in the Dome.
- New Mexico State (3-8, 1-5 WAC) at San Jose State (1-9, 0-6 WAC), 5 p.m. (Altitude2/ESPN360)
In the WAC’s Pillow Fight of the Week, two of the conference’s worst teams collide in a game that means nothing more than bragging rights. But with Spartans coach Dick Tomey retiring at the end of the year, San Jose State would undoubtedly like to close out his career in San Jose with a victory at home — and with a tough season finale at Louisiana Tech remaining, if a win doesn’t come today the Spartans will probably go winless in WAC play. DeWayne Walker’s New Mexico State Aggies are on the other side of the momentum swing, and a road win would close their first season under Walker’s guidance on a high note.
This game is looking to be a snoozer, as both teams are charitably described as offensively inept. New Mexico State has the conference’s worst scoring production, averaging just 12 points per game — but San Jose State is little better with 13.2. We’re hard-pressed to pick here, because it’s really going to depend on which team’s offense gets even the slightest advantage. But if there’s one place the teams diverge, it’s defensively — the Aggies have been better than the Spartans at stopping their opponents. Given that this is shaping up to be a low-scoring puntfest, one stop and one score could be the difference between winning or losing, so we’ll give the edge to New Mexico State. Then again, the Spartans will be riding a wave of emotions on home turf, and QB Jordan La Secla has shown the ability to make some plays. Will it be enough to give Tomey one last victory?
- Navy (8-3) at Hawaii (5-6, 3-5 WAC), 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
For the Hawaii Warriors, this is it — their season all comes down to this game. After six straight losses dropped the Warriors to 2-6, an impressive three-game win streak has put them in position to claim a berth in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. But they must win their last two games to do it, against some of the strongest opposition they’ve faced all season. Next week is nationally-ranked Wisconsin, but Hawaii’s first obstacle is the Navy Midshipmen and their potent triple-option attack that chews up the clock and the opposing defense all at once.
On paper, this one doesn’t look good at all for the home team. Navy has won seven of its last eight games, including a victory at nationally-ranked Notre Dame. Boasting the nation’s third-best rushing attack, led by dual-threat QB Ricky Dobbs’ 800 yards and 22 touchdowns, the Midshipmen should be able to torch the Warriors’ undersized defensive line. Hawaii has one of the nation’s worst rushing defenses, giving up an average of nearly 190 yards per game, and if they couldn’t stop Idaho on the ground, there’s no way they’ll stop Navy. The only hope for the Warriors is to blitz the Middies’ defense. If QB Bryant Moniz can answer Navy’s rushing attack score-for-score through the air, the Midshipmen might run into clock trouble with their time-consuming ground-based offense. It’s a slim hope, however, and it’s our guess that the Warriors’ bowl dreams die tonight.
FARGO, N.D. — It’s the morning after a Vandal victory, and these are always sweet mornings.
This afternoon, the Vandal women are taking on Montana State at home — a game we unfortunately won’t make, as we’ll be on a jet to Denver about tip-off time. But if you’re in Moscow, make sure to be in Memorial Gym at 2 p.m. as Idaho looks for its first win of the season.
We’ll have some more thoughts and stat bites from last night’s NDSU game later this afternoon.
- We’ve got a complete game story from the Vandals’ victory over North Dakota State.
- Kevin Schnepf of the Fargo Forum looks at the Bison’s ice-cold shooting which doomed them.
- Nevada took down Houston in a high-scoring shootout, and the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray has the story.
- Utah State suffered another road loss, and once again, the Logan Herald-Journal’s Shawn Harrison reports, the Aggies blew a late lead against Northeastern.
- The Boise State Broncos aren’t having as much luck on the hardwood as on the Smurf Turf, as they got blown out by Wyoming last night. The Idaho Statesman reports BSU coughed up the ball 23 times against a tough Cowboy press.
- Sacramento State upended the Pac-10′s Oregon State last night in Corvallis, shocking the hoops world. The Hornets, who won just two games all last season, travel to Moscow for a game Tuesday night.
- Olu Ashaolu picked up another double-double, but it wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs, as Louisiana Tech was crushed by New Mexico. Everyone else had horrible nights in the blue and red, highlighted by Kyle Gibson and Jamel Guyton’s combined 22 points and Magnum Rolle’s 4-point, 1-board disaster.
- The Newmags finally got in the win column, albeit in an unimpressive fashion against a Division II foe, the Las Cruces Sun-News’ Jason Groves reports. Jonathan Gibson went off for a career-high 30 points to lead NMSU over Oklahoma Panhandle State.
- San Jose State’s awful season got worse as the Spartans fell at home to Hawaii in overtime, despite making a solid defensive stand, the Mercury News’ Alex Pavlovic reports.
- The Nevada Wolf Pack pounded New Mexico State in the Aggies’ final home game of the year, in a game the Las Cruces Sun-News’ Teddy Feinberg called “No contest.”
- Fresno State took down Louisiana Tech, despite being without all-world rusher Ryan Mathews. The West Coast Bulldogs booted a field goal with time expiring to get the home win, and the Fresno Bee’s Daniel Lyght has the story.
FARGO, N.D. — Good morning from the tundra of North Dakota, where it’s a balmy 50 degrees.
The Vandals take on North Dakota State in college hoops this afternoon at 2 p.m. Pacific. We’re on the road, and we’ll have Vandal Nation Live courtside coverage with pregame at 1:30. Click here to join or set an e-mail reminder.
- We previewed the Bison in anticipation of this afternoon’s Idaho/NDSU battle.
- BYU smacked around Hawaii on the islands last night, as the Warriors were no match for the Mountain West’s Cougars, the Honolulu Advertiser’s Dayton Morinaga reports.
- Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal previews tonight’s Nevada/Houston hoops fight.
- The Logan Herald-Journal’s Shawn Harrison is on the road with Utah State, and previews their game against Northeastern today.
- Boise State travels to Laramie to take on the Wyoming Cowboys, and The Idaho Statesman’s Nick Jezierny talks to Ike Okoye.
- Spartan Hoops has the word from Seattle, where San Jose State hung tough but fell at Washington.
- The New Mexico State Aggies should finally get in the win column today with a game against D-II Oklahoma Panhandle State, the Las Cruces Sun-News’ Jason Groves says.
- The Nevada Appeal’s Joe Santoro takes a look at Nevada’s improved defense, and as the Wolf Pack prepare to take on New Mexico State, the Aggies want to close out their home season with a win, Las Cruces Sun-News writer Teddy Feinberg says.
- Hawaii makes its final trip off the islands to take on San Jose State today. The Honolulu Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai previews a game Hawaii must win to keep its bowl hopes alive, while Ferd Lewis says the Spartans shouldn’t stop the Warriors’ bowl quest.
- Boise State unsurprisingly obliterated Utah State last night on national TV, as the Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe reports.
- In the Battle of the Bulldogs, Louisiana Tech faces a Fresno State squad sans Ryan Mathews, the Monroe News-Star reports.
SPOKANE, Wash. — The day dawns on an important weekend for Idaho sports. Tonight, the Vandals tip off their hoops season against Utah, and of course tomorrow the intra-state battle for football supremacy with Boise State kicks off.
We’re on the road right now, and we’ll bring you Vandal Nation Live coverage of both events.
Pregame coverage for Vandal basketball begins at 5:30 p.m., with the game starting at 6. Click here for live play-by-play commentary, analysis and chat.
Last night, Vandal volleyball swept San Jose State, 3-0, to remain undefeated at home in WAC play. With the victory, Idaho improved to 14-13 on the season, 10-4 in WAC play, and looks to have the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament locked up. The Argonaut previews tomorrow’s game against Hawaii, which is undefeated in WAC play.
Today, we’ll also have our Better Know a Foe feature, this week with Kevan Lee of One Bronco Nation Under God. There’s a bit of a side bet going too, and we’ll talk about that.
Now for your links, and there’s plenty of them:
- The Argonaut’s Jennifer Schlake previews tomorrow’s Idaho/Boise State game.
- The Spokesman-Review’s Josh Wright has a great feature on Vandal quarterback Brian Reader.
- For your obligatory column on the Idaho/Boise State rivalry, we go to The Argonaut’s Cheyenne Hollis.
- The Argonaut’s Theo Lawson takes a historical look at Idaho’s intra-state hate.
- Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman has shanked a bunch of kicks from the left hash, and the Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe asks him why.
- The Honolulu Advertiser’s Ferd Lewis compares Hawaii’s coaching pay to other WAC schools, and concludes the Warriors’ big bucks aren’t buying much.
- We previewed this weekend’s men’s games against Utah and Texas Southern and ponder the Vandals’ hopes and dreams for a perfect season.
- The Refraction previews tonight’s rivalry game between the Utah State Aggies and the Weber State Wildcats. Logan’s “cold-blooded wrecking machine” also previews the whole day’s WAC slate.
- AggieNoise.com has some thoughts on the season ahead for Utah State.
- Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News says the Vandals will test the youthful Utes.
- The Logan Herald-Journal’s Shawn Harrison takes a look at the Utah State/Weber State battle.
- The Idaho Statesman’s Nick Jezierny examines Boise State’s road-heavy hoops schedule. The Broncos open tonight at Montana.
- New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies sat down and chatted with BleedCrimson.net’s Sam Wasson. The Las Cruces Sun-News’ Jason Groves previews the Aggies’ opener at St. Mary’s and scouts the Gaels. (h/t to Parsing the WAC)
- There’s 347 Division I college basketball teams, and some guy wrote a paragraph about every one of them. Dedication.
- The Fresno State Collegian’s Sara Almario previews the Bulldogs’ game against D-II San Francisco State.
- The Argonaut’s Ilya Pinchuk previews Monday’s women’s season opener against Gonzaga.
This weekend’s four Western Athletic Conference contests this weekend are spread across three days. Yesterday, Boise State survived a scare from Louisiana Tech to win in Ruston, 45-35.
Here’s today’s matchups, all times Pacific.
- Utah State (2-6, 1-3 WAC) at Hawaii (2-6, 0-5 WAC), 7 p.m. (ESPN360)
This is a matchup of two of the WAC’s bottom-dwellers, but don’t let that fool you. The Aggies are a much better team than their record indicates, with their three conference losses coming by a combined 10 points. For the Warriors, the postseason hopes are on the line — this is their last shot to remain bowl-eligible. A slim hope, yes, because Hawaii needs to win all five of its remaining games to do so, but it’s a hope nonetheless. Utah State, too, could squeak into a bowl at 6-6 if they win out. Whichever team loses this game answers their postseason questions: No.
Utah State’s offense has been a powerhouse, led by Diondre Borel’s 240 yards per game in the air and Robert Turbin’s 110 yards on the ground. But they’ve been unable to stop anyone else from scoring, and have made a series of crucial fourth-quarter errors to cough up games in the waning minutes. The Warriors were turned upside down in the third game of the season, as #1 quarterback Greg Alexander went down with an ACL injury. Hawaii hasn’t won a game since, and sophomore Bryant Moniz, thrust into the starting spotlight, has been underwhelming at best. Neither team’s record is great, but look under the hood and the Aggies have been far more impressive.
- Fresno State (5-3, 4-1 WAC) at Idaho (7-2, 4-1 WAC), 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Akey’s Army returns to the Thunderdome at night on national TV for the second time this season. Undefeated at home so far, the Vandals face one of their toughest challenges yet: a Fresno State squad that rolls up 260 yards per game on the ground on the strength of NCAA-leading tailback Ryan Mathews. Stopping him is impossible for even the WAC’s best teams, as Boise State found out. Idaho’s task will be tough enough: just slow him down. If the Vandals can’t keep him in check, this game could get real ugly real fast.
But all is not lost for the Vandals — Fresno State’s defense has been unspectacular, and if there’s one thing Idaho is capable of doing, it’s putting points up on the scoreboard. Bulldog quarterback Ryan Colburn hasn’t done much through the air, so if the Vandals can get ahead early and make the game a shootout, it could be tough for Fresno State to effectively utilize Mathews. Given the Vandals’ defensive struggles of late, that’s a very big if. The game could hinge on turnovers — Colburn, like Idaho QB Nathan Enderle, has proven pick-prone. Defensive TDs could be huge for either team.
If you’re a Vandal sports fan, you’ve got to be on cloud nine right now. There’s three games in the next 36 hours — men’s and women’s basketball tonight, football tomorrow. We’ll bring it all to you right here at Vandal Nation.
Vandal Nation Live will have play-by-play coverage of every game:
- Women’s basketball vs. Eastern Oregon, pregame at 5:30 p.m., tipoff at 6.
- Men’s basketball vs. St. Martin’s, pregame following the women’s game, tipoff at 8.
- Football vs. Fresno State, pregame at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, kickoff at 7:30.
Coming today, we’ll preview this week’s WAC football action and continue our Vandal Spotlight series with point guard Landon Tatum.
Vandal volleyball is on a hot streak, as the women knocked off Louisiana Tech last night to notch their sixth straight win. Idaho is now guaranteed a berth in the six-team WAC Volleyball Tournament.
Now for your morning links.
- We’ve got our Better Know a Foe report on Fresno State, with Fresno Bee reporter Daniel Lyght.
- The Argonaut’s Jennifer Schlake previews tomorrow’s Idaho/Fresno State battle.
- The Fresno Bee’s Bryant-Jon Anteola takes a look at the Vandals’ gridiron resurgence.
- ESPN’s Graham Watson says Louisiana Tech has a “monumental challenge” on its hands tonight vs. Boise State.
- The Spartan Daily has a video preview of Sunday’s San Jose State/Nevada matchup.
- The Vandals will get manhandled by the Bulldogs, Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel predicts.
- How bad are things for Hawaii football? The Honolulu Police Department has taken to cracking jokes at the Warriors’ expense, Honolulu Advertiser writer Curtis Lum reports.
- The Logan Herald-Journal’s Wade Denniston looks at this week’s Utah State/Hawaii battle.
- New Mexico State needs to make good use of its bye week, the Las Cruces Sun-News’ Teddy Feinberg blogs.
- We previewed tonight’s men’s hoops exhibition game vs. St. Martin’s.
- I’ve got a profile of the Vandals’ senior point guard Charlotte Otero in The Argonaut. Ilya Pinchuk previews the women’s exhibition against Eastern Oregon.
- The Sports Network joins the chorus and predicts Idaho to finish fourth in the WAC.
Today dawns on an Idaho Vandals football team that is bowl-qualified — they’ve all but sealed the team’s first postseason berth since 1998.
The Vandal women rolled in their opening exhibition game yesterday, beating Northwest Christian 82-52. Idaho’s soccer team wasn’t as lucky, falling, 3-2, to Hawaii in their season finale.
Justin Veltung was named the WAC Special Teams Player of the Week for his kickoff return touchdown against Louisiana Tech.
Coming today — the grand finale in our WAC Hoops Preview Countdown, plus some more stuff.
- The Argonaut’s Jennifer Schlake has the game story from the Vandals’ stirring comeback victory over Louisiana Tech.
- ESPN’s Graham Watson hands an honorable-mention helmet sticker to DeMaundray Woolridge for his game-saving touchdown pair, and says Robb Akey is a real Coach of the Year prospect. Idaho did fall out of her non-AQ Top-10, though.
- The Shreveport Times’ Jimmy Watson looks at the injuries which hit La. Tech hard against Idaho.
- The Reno Gazette-Journal’s Dan Hinxman posts up a Monday Review of the Wolf Pack’s victory over Hawaii.
- The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes ranks Idaho third in the WAC, but says it’ll face a real test this week against Fresno State.
- Logan Hopkins of the Fresno State Collegian reports from the Bulldogs’ comeback win over Utah State.
- The Lewiston Tribune’s Jesse Baumgartner posts up his team grades for Idaho/La. Tech.
- The Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray has previews on Boise State and Fresno State. (h/t to Parsing the WAC)
- Ballin’ is a Habit names Idaho one of its top-10 sleeper teams on the strength of Mac Hopson.
- Sam Wasson of Bleed Crimson previews the New Mexico State backcourt.
It’s Gameday in Moscow for Idaho’s Homecoming! The 6-2 Idaho Vandals will look to use some home cooking to get back on the winning track against a 3-4 Louisiana Tech squad that has yet to win a road game. A victory this afternoon would seal a bowl berth for the Vandals — their first since 1998.
We’ll bring you all the action from the Kibbie Dome with our exclusive play-by-play liveblog, Vandal Nation Live, starting at 1:15 p.m. with the pregame show. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Today in the WAC
There are five games to be played involving WAC squads today, and here’s the lowdown on all of them. You’ll note that four of the five are likely to be ugh-ly. All times Pacific:
- New Mexico State (3-5, 1-3 WAC) at Ohio State (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten), 9 a.m.
Poor, poor Aggies. They were having a half-decent season going, but have hit a two-game slide in conference play. Now DeWayne Walker’s squad has to travel to the Horseshoe in Columbus for a body-bag game against Ohio State that will almost certainly leave New Mexico State crushed into the ground. Why they scheduled this game in the middle of the conference season is beyond fathoming. (Well, OK, they probably needed the money, but did it have to be the Buckeyes?)
The Aggies have shown a reasonably decent defensive posture, but they’re entirely unable to score points. There are 120 teams in the FBS — NMSU “boasts” the 120th-ranked offense and the 119th-ranked scoring offense, averaging fewer than 14 points per game. No question here, Buckeyes in a blowout. How many Aggie players will limp home wounded? Now that’s a good question.
- San Jose State (1-5, 0-2 WAC) at No. 6 Boise State (7-0, 2-0 WAC), noon
After getting a 54-9 win over Hawaii and still slipping a place in the polls last week, expect the Broncos to come out swinging on their home turf. Meanwhile, the floundering Spartans are looking for any note of salvation in what has been a disastrous season… but they’re unlikely to find it on the Smurf Turf of Bronco Stadium. Boise State has not lost a WAC game at home — ever.
For Boise State to have any hope of making a BCS bowl, they have to win out and do so in convincing fashion. Expect no quarter to be given — and with San Jose State’s awful running defense, Jeremy Avery and the rest of the Bronco tailbacks should have a field day. Is triple digits out of the realm of possibility? Maybe, but Boise State needs to find something that’ll impress the poll voters and the stat computers. With Nevada looming next week, the spectre of a 1-7 record is staring the Spartans in the face.
- Hawaii (2-5, 0-4 WAC) at Nevada (4-3, 3-0 WAC), 1 p.m.
Copy, paste, repeat. The injury-riddled Warriors have to fly across the Pacific for the privilege of being obliterated at home by Nevada. Last week, Hawaii was forced to go to its fourth-string quarterback (!) after third-stringer Bryant Moniz was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Reeling, disorganized and demoralized, the Warriors will be easy pickings for a Wolf Pack team whose powerful offense no WAC foe has yet stopped.
Nevada’s one weak point is its secondary, and Hawaii can still pass the football — the Warriors’ only hope would appear to be a high-scoring shootout. But outscoring the Wolf Pack is impossible if you can’t contain coach Chris Ault’s Pistol offense. Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua made a mockery of their matchup with Idaho, putting 70 points up on the scoreboard. Even Idaho’s season-high tally of 45 wasn’t enough. Hawaii won’t even get that close.
- Utah State (2-5, 1-2 WAC) at Fresno State (4-3, 3-1 WAC), 2 p.m.
Poor, poor Aggies. (Noticing a theme here?) Utah State got its first win of the season over an FBS opponent with a win at home last week over Louisiana Tech. But the momentum from that victory will come to a crashing halt today in Bulldog Stadium, because Fresno State is ready to run all over the defenseless (literally) Aggies. Utah State’s rushing defense is one of the worst in the nation and the Bulldogs will unleash the nation’s leading rusher, Ryan Mathews, on that hapless front line.
After a disastrous (record-wise) 1-3 non-conference season, Fresno State is looking to contend in the conference race and seal itself up a bowl bid. Beating up on Utah State would all but assure the WAC’s Central Valley outpost of making it to the postseason. It shouldn’t be a particularly tough task, because the Aggies’ not-bad offensive package has struggled to put points on the board. Fresno State, which is seventh in the nation in scoring offense, has no such worries. The Bulldogs will roll.
- Louisiana Tech (3-4, 2-2 WAC) at Idaho (6-2, 3-1 WAC), 2 p.m.
Now here’s a game that’s likely to be a, well, game. The Vandals, who had a Cinderella five-game win streak snapped in brutal fashion in Reno last week, are hoping to take a measure of revenge on home turf, and in so doing, lock up the program’s first bowl bid since 1998. Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, needs to beat Idaho to have any hope at all of playing in December. The two squads match up reasonably well on paper, right?
Hold on a minute. Unfortunately for the WAC’s southern Bulldogs, this game is being played in Moscow and they haven’t won a game on the road all year. While it’s true that Louisiana Tech has a solid passing defense that could slow Nathan Enderle’s aerial assault, it’s also true that they can’t stop the run. Nor have the Bulldogs really been effective at moving the ball, via ground or air. They just don’t look able to keep up with the Vandals’ dynamic offense. Idaho’s Homecoming crowd will go nuts as the Vandals secure a winning season — and, likely, a trip to Boise.
- We’ll have more links in the morning.