As prelude to this coming season, we thought it would be a great idea to rehash all of last season's ugliest losses for fans to reminisce and/or rip all their freshly regrown hair out over. We begin with two of our own comparing notes on the best or worst game of last season, depending on your rooting interests.
Sydney: Granted, the Idaho Vandals are an FBS program, and by all accounts, haven't been a very good one.
So maybe the Vandals losing to Old Dominion, a FCS program playing in its final season before moving up to FBS, wouldn't be much of a surprise. Especially since another FCS power, Eastern Washington, set an earlier precedent in 2012 by defeating Idaho at the Kibbie Dome on their way to the national semifinals.
Meanwhile, in Norfolk, the weaning process had begun in earnest for ODU as Bobby Wilder had loaded up three FBS schools--East Carolina, Maryland, Pitt and the aforementioned Vandals--onto the 2013 schedule. The result: getting outscored 99-48 against the high-scoring Pirates offense and the Terrapins combined. A 35-24 loss at Pitt saw the gap shrink heading into the Idaho game.
Sean: I'll be honest, we expected to lose this football game. It's not necessarily because we'd just about quit on this team, or that we'd already seen prolific quarterbacks light up this hapless defense, but because we realized that Old Dominion was already a much better program than Idaho has almost ever been at the FBS level. Yeah, we had that one season where we went 8-5 and won the Humanitarian Bowl. We were also the fourth best team in the WAC that year.
So, we were a little bit in disbelief when Idaho actually forced a three and out to go up 14-0. We've seen this from Idaho before at the Kibbie Dome - we have some offensive players that can make some plays. But very few of us actually believed, even up 14-0. The defense had too many holes. Taylor Heinicke was too good, it was only a matter of time.
Sydney: Yep, Taylor Heinicke is good. Glad you noticed. I think he and the Monarchs figured out that they were playing, well, Idaho.
Cam Boyd takes the ball and runs for a one-yard loss to open the Monarch's ensuing possession. After that, I guess Heinicke has had enough. Seven passes (six completed), 76 yards and just over two minutes later, Marquel Thomas was in the end zone following a 22-yard touchdown pass. 14-7.
Idaho ball, but...
Sean: Taylor Davis throws an interception. Eye roll, real surprise. We're lucky that it only resulted in a field goal. Right here we're thinking that we need a score to keep the momentum in Idaho's favor for the .... 8,000 or so in attendance. *cries in a corner real quick.*
Our workhorse running back James Baker can't convert the first down and we give the ball back to ODU who take the lead. We NEED to respond. Pound the rock, big play to Dezmon Epps (who just got kicked off the team for shoplifting from a supermarket. NICE). And then, BIG TAYLOR DAVIS RUSHES IT IN FROM 12 OUT. IDAHO BACK ON TOP IN THE SECOND QUARTER. WHAT.
Sydney: No one said this one would be easy, right? With the Monarchs trailing and 9:50 left in the first half following an Austin Rehkow 41-yard field goal, they get back on track with 14 unanswered: first, a three-minute drive to tie it at 24, followed by a botched fake punt that put ODU at the Idaho 34 in advance of another touchdown. Another gift from the Vandals. (Let's take a moment to point out that it was fourth and twenty on the fake. OK, that's enough.)
But this pesky Idaho team, for some reason, won't go away. Maybe that loss to Eastern Washington was still fresh in their minds.
Sean: So we just relinquished the lead again by trying a really stupid fake punt on 4th and 20 that totally didn't work. But all it took was one play to get it knotted up again, Taylor Davis (who had a very strong arm and was good on deep balls), aired it out to Epps again who hauled it in for a 66-yard score. Scoring 31 points in one half was a breakthrough for Idaho, against a good opponent none the less. If we could keep this up in the second half, could we notch our second win? Epps was Idaho's best receiver, by the way. Sigh.
Sydney: So this game is tied 31-31 at the half and the teams find themselves in the midst of an offensive shootout. It didn't look to me like either team was interested in playing defense. Most importantly, the Monarchs are in great position to pick up that first win over an FBS school.
Sean: This is how tough it was to be Idaho last season. As much as the team might have competed, there was so much pressure to score on every single possession because of how much talent the team lacked in the secondary. One possession without points and you're 50 percent sure that the other team is going to score.
Old Dominion gets first possession of the second half and, of course, scored. Idaho stalls its drive at the 50-yard line and Old Dominion scores again. Well, shit, we're 14 points down to start the second half - so much for that 31-31 score. Idaho keeps the game in reach in the third quarter because we finally manufacture a real drive, thanks to freshman phenom Richard Montgomery.
Unfortunately, the best ever offensive output from a Paul Petrino Idaho team to date only nets the Vandals seven points in the second half. As my previous math demonstrates, that's just not enough. As often happened with the Vandals, the team ran out of steam and confidence in the 4th quarter.
Sydney: So ODU has the ball with 3:04 left in the 3rd, up 45-38.
First and ten: a drop by Jaqwail Bailey.
Second and ten: a three-yard pass to Boyd.
Huge 3rd and 7 coming up: 11-yard pass to Thomas, first down Monarchs at their own 39.
Hold everything: tack on a 15-yard personal foul against Idaho and make that first down Monarchs at the Idaho 46.
Three plays later, it's 4th and 3 at the 39, outside of Jarod Brown's range. So what does Bobby Wilder do? Dare he send Brown out to attempt a 56-yard field goal, just two yards more than the redshirt senior's high of 54 against Pitt earlier in the year?
Nope. He went for it. They succeeded.
A 39-yard touchdown pass to Marquel Thomas, his second of the game. 52-38 with 14:08 left. A mental nail in the coffin of the Vandals. The next three Idaho drives stall, the Monarchs tack on a late score for good measure, and they escape the Kibbie Dome with a 59-38 win.
Lesson we learned: ODU on a good day is better than Idaho on a bad day. (Granted, Idaho usually has bad days, and the upper half of FCS is probably better than Idaho, but that's a whole other story for another day.)
Stay tuned for further entries for the worst game of 2013.