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Bowling Green-Idaho: Humanitarian Bowl Revenge II

Outcome be damned, it was still a terrific game. Losing a bowl game like that can suck, but given the alternative, this ain't bad.

I am not sure if the chicken or egg came first, but around the time this game was played, Idaho and BG scheduled a home-and-home series for 2011 and 2012. And I think that's how you want to do it on occasion. Play a neutral game, then one on each team's turf. BG exacted revenge last year in the form of a 32-15 game which I rightly fawned over that night. I remember more details of that game, actually, because selective memory is outstanding. It was one of the first I ever watched by hooking my laptop up to my flat-screen TV. The game was on ESPN3, broadcasted by a regional channel called Altitude. And in that team, I saw things I hadn't seen in a while. They played defense. They ran the ball ... that is to say they ran it and did a good job at it. The passing game was adept. And they left the Kibbie Dome in sheer joy, because that's all you can do following a 2-10 season.

(Sidenote: maybe there is something to starting and ending the season with a win. Sure, 5-7 is not cause for major celebration, but with a road win at Idaho and a road win at Buffalo bookending their season, I felt pretty good about it. And yet, all those other terrible losses. Doesn't make much sense.)

So now Idaho and BG meet yet again, perhaps for the last time in quite a while. Nobody is certain what will happen to Idaho in the future. The WAC is disbanding and they're being left out in the proverbial cold, but remember they play in a dome, so at least they'll be warm albeit lonely, not unlike Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

I truly feel for Idaho and am pulling for them as a program, because in 2009 both programs were very similar in stature. A Humanitarian Bowl win would have been equally as huge for BGSU, even though they had bowl wins and winning seasons and Urban Meyers still fresh in short-term memory. A couple butterfly wing flaps and maybe C-USA instead poaches teams from the MAC, leaving someone like Bowling Green without a conference. In fact this almost happened to their hockey program in the lame-duck CCHA, a once-proud championship program already in danger of being dropped, and the WCHA saved their hides. And we can lay partial blame to the Big Ten on both. Fucking realignment, man.

But in terms of the actual game, it's not perceived to be much of a contest, although we said that about BG-Florida. Idaho lost their home opener 20-3 to Eastern Washington, a ranked FCS opponent. Granted, Idaho was also without Dominique Blackman, a well-traveled QB who went from Washington to Los Angeles Harbor to Old Dominion before entering potato country. He was named the starter but was curiously on the sidelines sans jersey and pads, and nobody entirely knows why other than coach Robb Akey dictated it so. Was he worth 17 points?

But now that we're starting to talk about the actual football team, I'm going to need some help. For the Q&A portion of the program, I requisitioned the insight of Sean Kramer, manager of Vandal Nation, a blog operated by Idaho's student newspaper, The Argonaut.

I'm looking at the Idaho-EWU game and thinking, yikes. I'm also wondering why Dominique Blackman didn't play in that game. Robb Akey doesn't seem to want to share why his starting quarterback was benched. Without getting into the "why," how much difference do you think Blackman would have made in their opener?

Blackman probably would have made a significant difference. With all due respect to Logan Bushnell, he just isn't that good. He was the third stringer last year for a reason, and there is a reason he was never realistically in the conversation to start last year when both Brian Reader and Taylor Davis were not effective. Blackman is a physically imposing pocket presence with good intermediate accuracy, and the offense has been tailored to him being able to get the ball out to his receivers quickly and let them make plays. The offense should be drastically different against Bowling Green, offensive line protection pending.

As I've been studying up on Idaho preview-wise, I haven't been able to locate a consensus couple of best players on watch list, preseason all-conference picks, or elsewhere. I'm being led to believe Mike Scott is the best player on offense and Conrad Scheidt on defense. Tell me I'm wrong about this.

Mike Scott is definitely Idaho's best offensive player. He is a dynamic receiver that is a go to guy on third down, deep threat and a guy who can take the ball in space and get a lot of yards after catch. The problem is he hasn't had many guys that can get him the ball consistently. We'll see if that guy is Blackman. On defense, safety Gary Walker is the one to watch. Defensive coverage was iffy at best last season, and looked to be a huge problem again last Thursday night, but if not for Gary Walker it would be a lot worse. He's a physical safety who comes up big in run defense, prevents big plays and keeps receivers from breaking in to the open field for big yardage after the catch.

That Idaho-BG Humanitarian Bowl might've been the most entertaining game of the 2009 bowl season, start to finish. Was that the crowning achievement of Vandals football in recent memory?

The Humanitarian Bowl in 2009 is absolutely the crown jewel moment of Idaho football since joining FBS, and it's the standard that Vandal fans have held the program too since. Whether or not Robb Akey is capable of getting Idaho back to that level, and keeping them there, remains to be seen.

Much of what I've read on Idaho this season is their uncertain future. They got a bum deal in the conference realignment. I've heard they're going to try the FBS independent route. What's more likely to happen: they tread water independently and join another conference, or drop down to FCS?

Anything can happen within the next two years and that is what the athletic department here is counting on. But they are absolutely set on treading water in independence if they can get the scheduling contracts for the next two seasons. If a conference home doesn't exist for Idaho after the two years, the Big Sky would be the most likely landing spot.

Not necessarily asking for a prediction, but what are the expectations for Idaho against BG?

With all signs pointing to Blackman starting I look for the Vandals to show a lot more life on offense. Against Eastern it wasn't just that Idaho had significantly less talent at QB, but were without their on field leader, and it showed late in the game with their demeanor. Blackman has waited a long time to get this opportunity, so I can't see him letting his teammates give a half-assed effort. Still, Bowling Green is a better team on paper. If Idaho loses, it should at least be pretty.

A pretty game would be nice. As long as the turnover malady doesn't flare up again and Schilz's inconsistency gets less inconsistent, the Falcons ought to take the best-of-three series.