The Texas State Bobcats (3-7, 2-4) will travel to take on the Idaho Vandals (3-8, 2-5) in a Sun Belt Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Texas State has taken each of the three previous meetings, including a 35-30 win at home on October 4, 2014 in the most recent matchup. Idaho covered in that game as they were a 14.5 point underdog.
Texas State had lost six of seven before shutting down Louisiana Monroe 16-3 at home last Thursday. Idaho lost their fourth straight as they were dumped 56-34 on the road by Auburn last Saturday. Kickoff from the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho is scheduled for 5:00 pm ET and can be seen on ESPN3. Idaho is currently a 4.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 66 points in this contest.
Texas State shut Louisiana Monroe down over the final three quarters last week and posted their lowest points against total of the season. The Bobcats outgained the Warhawks 334-181, racked up 20 first downs while allowing 10 and dominated the time of possession battle 35:40 to 24:20 in the contest. In addition, Texas State forced a pair of turnovers while playing turnover free ball on their own side of the ball. The Bobcats kept the Warhawks out of the end zone and off the scoreboard completely over the final 46 minutes.
The Bobcats bring a good offense to the table in this contest as they are 67th in the nation in passing offense (221.3 yards) and 44th in the nation when it comes to rushing offense with an average of 190.3 yards per game. Texas State is scoring an average of 27.2 points per game, which is tied for 85th in the country, but they are leaky defensively as they are 118th in the FBS in scoring defense by allowing 37.7 points per contest. Tyler Jones has completed 188 of 322 passes for 2,076 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions while ranking second on the team with 531 yards and eight scores on the ground. Connor White (18 of 32, 137 yards, TD, 38 rushing yards) is the backup should Jones get banged up. Robert Lowe is the top running back for the Bobcats with 169 carries for 890 yards plus seven scores; Chris Nutall adds 35 carries for 176 yards and four touchdowns. C.J. Best is the team’s leading receiver with 43 catches for 413 yards; Jafus Gaines (34 grabs, team high 421 yards, 2 TD), Ryan Carden (25 grabs, 243 yards) and Demun Mercer (19 receptions, 235 yards, 2 TD) are other key targets for the Bobcats. Two kickers for Texas State have combined to hit 26 of 31 extra points and nine of 16 field goals this season with a long of 50 yards.
Idaho was badly outplayed by Auburn but made the score slightly more respectable in garbage time. The Vandals actually outgained the Tigers 479-460 thanks to their garbage time production and finished with 26 first downs while allowing 25. Idaho won the time of possession battle 32:48 to 27:12 in the game but they were hurt by miscues in the game. The Vandals committed three turnovers in the game while failing to generate a takeaway; one of those turnovers was a pick six that was part of 21 Auburn points in 2:57.
The Vandals put up 278.5 yards per game (29th in the nation in passing offense) through the air and 143.5 yards per game (98th in the nation in rushing) on the ground. Idaho averages 29.6 points per game but they are miserable when it comes to stopping the opposition as they allow 43.1 points per contest, leaving them sitting 124th in the nation in scoring defense. Matt Linehan has completed 225 of 358 passes for 2,660 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 picks while adding 219 rushing yards plus four touchdowns on the year. Jake Luton is 51 of 80 for 403 yards with one touchdown and four picks while adding 73 yards and five scores on the ground. Elijhaa Penny leads the Vandals in rushing yards as he has 222 carries for 1,025 yards and eight scores while Aaron Duckworth chips in 67 carries for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Dezmon Epps leads the team with 61 receptions for 762 yards and two touchdowns while Callen Hightower has 48 receptions for 621 yards plus two scores and Penny has 25 grabs out of the backfield. Buck Cowan (45 grabs, 600 yards, 4 TD) and Deon Watson (37 receptions, 427 yards, 5 TD) are in the mix for targets as well. Callen Hightower (40 receptions, 460 yards, TD) and Rueben Mwehla (17 grabs, 130 yards) are good secondary options. Austin Rehkow has hit 34 of 35 extra points and 22 of 25 field goal attempts this season with a long of 44 yards.
Texas State is 6-2 ATS in their last eight in November, 5-2 ATS in their last seven after an ATS win and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 on fieldturf. Idaho is 9-21 ATS in their last 30 at home, 4-13 ATS in their last 17 after an ATS win and 1-5 ATS in their last six after allowing more than 450 yards of offense.
This one could be a shootout as both teams have decent to good offenses and terrible to miserable defenses. Texas State is coming off a win while Idaho has struggled with four straight losses after having a chance to climb over .500 when that stretch began. This one is tough to call but you have to give Texas State the edge here; take the points and the Bobcats.