Well, this game certainly didn't lack for action.
The Idaho Vandals and Texas State Bobcats combined for 69 (nice) points, four turnovers, and over 1000 yards of offense as the home team ultimately prevailed in a wild 38-31 affair. Idaho's Matt Linehan found TE/WR Deon Watson early and often as the 6'4" junior torched Bobcat cornerback Brandon McDowell and the rest of the secondary for 124 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, including a wild one-handed catch that would set up the winning touchdown.
Fellow receiver Callen Hightower also torched David Mims and the Bobcat back 5 for 128 receiving yards, and workhorse running back Elijhaa Penny poured on 149 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries (good for 6 YPC) on a Bobcat defense that made a few stops but couldn't hold when it needed to.
Tyler Siudzinski and Tyler Jones did their damndest to help the Bobcats keep up. The freshman running back tallied 174 yards on 22 carries after Robert Lowe exited the game in the 1st quarter and Jones combined for four total touchdowns--2 in the air, 2 on the ground--and looked more in rhythm when the coaches allowed him to throw deep routes down the field to targets such as CJ Best and Brandon Smith, who woke up for 198 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns combined.
However, despite the offense's heroic effort, the Bobcats stalled when it counted. A somewhat questionable call to try and run Siudzinski to the outside instead of running Jones on 4th and inches at the goal line was stuffed, but the worst call came at the most crucial juncture of the game.
Texas State stalled in Idaho territory with 3 minutes left. Dennis Franchione had a choice: go for it on 4th and short, or punt from the Idaho 45 and trust a defense that had already given up 31 points and were running out of gas.
He chose the latter. Idaho drove into Bobcat territory. Then this happened.
Then Idaho scored on a 4 yard touchdown plunge by Penny, and Texas State's final drive would end in Tyler Jones's first interception of the day.
Idaho quadrupled their win total from a season ago and showed that 2015 was a clear step forward under Paul Petrino. With Matt Linehan, Callen Hightower, and Deon Watson returning next season, the Vandals should be set in their passing attack and can focus on developing a more consistent defense.
The sound of victory #GoVandals pic.twitter.com/khz8oiT6OB— Idaho Football (@VandalFootball) November 29, 2015
Texas State, meanwhile, completes the trifecta of losing to three programs in NMSU, Georgia State, and Idaho that they had previously been above on the Sun Belt totem pole. Now they (and ULM) are the doormat. Arkansas State will more than likely put the last helping of dirt on Texas State's grave next week, and a 3-9 season is a highly likely possibility.
#TXST's 3-8 record ties the most losses Franchione has had in his career. 2012 and before that, his first season at Texas A&M in '03.— Ishmael Johnson (@Ish_46) November 29, 2015
Athletic Director Larry Teis and President Denise Trauth now have to decide whether being mentioned in the same breath as UCF and Kansas are acceptable standards for Texas State football. If so, they risk losing a fanbase that's already on the edge of quitting.
And if that happens, it's worth asking whether the Drive to FBS was worth it in the first place.