Whatever the excuse may be, the Idaho State University football team is destined for another 2-9 season.
Last year, the defense lost two of its best players in Mario Jenkins and Taison Manu prior to the season. This season, a banged up offensive line has led to redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Gueller being under constant pressure, and an ineffective running game.
The 2016 schedule was not a favorable one, two Pac-12 schools and most of the conference’s top teams made up the Bengals’ schedule. ISU has played two schools with below .500 records and both were wins. That is a positive.
However, keep in mind that the six losses this year have been by a combined score of 270 – 89.
Portland State’s only conference win this season was a 45-20 blow out at the hand of ISU, a game in which the Vikings racked up over 500 yards on the ground. That is the third time an opponent has rushed for 500 yards against the Bengals in the last two years. Okay, Cal Polly ran for 499, but I am going to round that off.
The reason I say the Bengals will go 2-9 this year, which means the team will not win a game for the rest of the year, is because the remaining three games are all against conference juggernauts.
Montana is 5-3 and is below .500 in the conference, but the Grizz is a very difficult team to beat at home and its schedule makes ISU’s schedule look ridiculous.
The three losses are a road loss to Cal Poly, currently 3-1 in conference play, Northern Arizona, the preseason favorite to win the conference and Eastern Washington, who beat Washington State the first week of the season.
The Grizz have lost two in a row, which is unheard of for a program that has as high of a reputation as Montana has. The team has not lost at home this season and the Bengals have not won a road game all year.
I predict that Montana rolls.
The weeks after that, the Bengals have to travel to The Inferno to play on the red turf at Eastern Washington. Eastern is arguably the best team in the conference this season.
The Eagles hold a 7-1 overall record, are unbeaten in conference play with the only loss coming to defending national champion North Dakota State, which was a nail-biter in 50-44 overtime loss in Fargo.
Again, I predict the Eagles will roll.
The Bengals finish out the season with a home game vs. Weber State. Although this game is in the dome, Weber will travel well. It is the weekend leading into thanksgiving break, so there will not be very many students left on campus and with the short drive from Ogden, it would not surprise me if there is more purple and white in the stands than orange and black.
Weber is 4-1 in conference play and its only conference loss came to North Dakota, who has yet to be beaten in conference play.
The Wildcats have only lost three games all year, a double overtime thriller to South Dakota, a 45-6 loss to Utah State to open the season and the before mentioned loss to first place North Dakota.
My prediction for this game is similar to that of the two before.
Weber will roll, but not as badly. I predict that ISU will hang with the Wildcats for about half the game, and then Weber will take control and win by 30-plus.
If this predicted 2-9 season holds, the Bengals will have beaten two FCS schools in the last two years. Two of the four wins, also known as known as half, would have been against Division II schools.