Give thanks for ... a bowl?
<p>Idaho cornerback Kenneth Patten takes a moment to himself prior to the Boise State game on Nov. 12.</p>
Sports Editor | November 25, 2010 8:00 PM
The Idaho football team plans to practice this morning, then players and coaches and their families will gather for Thanksgiving dinner at the University Inn in Moscow, "because my living room is not big enough to host us all," Idaho coach Robb Akey said with a laugh.
Akey, in his fourth season as Vandals coach, said the Thanksgiving dinner is a Vandal tradition since he's been coach.
He's trying to make something else a tradition in Moscow - going to bowl games.
Idaho went to a bowl game last year for the first time in 11 seasons. And with a win Saturday at Fresno State and another the following Saturday at home vs. San Jose State, the Vandals will be bowl-eligible at least for the second consecutive season.
Fresno State (6-4, 4-3 Western Athletic Conference) is already bowl-eligible, but coming off a 51-0 thrashing at the hands of Boise State last week.
"They're going to be anxious to bounce back," Akey said of Fresno State. "But there's going to be a Vandal team that's going to go in there pretty fired up. We're playing for an awful lot. We're fighting for our bowl lives. In my opinion, we're playing for more than they are."
Idaho has yet to beat a team with a winning record this season, and this is the Vandals' last shot as San Jose State is in last in the WAC at 1-10, 0-6.
Idaho's wins have come over North Dakota (3-8), UNLV (2-9), Western Michigan (5-6), New Mexico State (2-9) and Utah State (4-7). The Vandals' losses have come to Nebraska (9-2), Colorado State (3-9), Louisiana Tech (4-6), Hawaii (8-3), Nevada (10-1) and Boise State (10-0).
Last year, Idaho was bowl-eligible after just seven games, beating Hawaii to go 6-1 (the Vandals needed just six wins last year because they played just 12 regular season games).
Idaho then lost four of its last five before rebounding to beat Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl.
"A year ago, that team acquired bowl eligibility early in the season," Akey said. "We had a nice five or six-game run, and everybody got excited because it was something that hadn't been seen around here in a long, long time, and we gained some national attention and there was some good momentum there."
If Idaho were to be bowl eligible this year, the Vandals would be coming in on a three-game winning streak.
"If we get that invitation to go to a bowl, we've got a team that's peaking more late in the season," he said.