Second-half outlook: Idaho

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson


The biggest surprise of this season has been the emergence of Idaho. The Vandals already have doubled their win total from the past two seasons combined and look well on their way to their first bowl berth since 1998. Idaho is one of two teams in the WAC with a winning record and currently sits atop the conference. If this trend continues, not only should coach Robb Akey win conference coach of the year honors, he should also be considered for national coach of the year.

Best-case scenario: Idaho wins its next three games and then is the team to ruin Boise State’s perfect season. There would probably not be a bigger cherry to put atop the Vandals' great season than ruining their in-state rival’s perfect campaign and BCS bowl aspirations. The Vandals win the WAC title and cap an improbable one-loss campaign after not winning more than five games in any season this decade.

Worst-case scenario: Idaho’s schedule gets tougher in the second half of the season, beginning with this weekend’s game against Nevada. The Vandals can’t keep up with the traditional upper echelon of the conference and don’t win another game. They finish the season 6-6 and miss a bowl game because Boise State loses and there aren’t enough opportunities to accommodate the Vandals in the WAC bowls and they're snubbed for an at-large bid.

Prediction: Idaho has proven that it’s a scrappy team that can win in any situation. There’s not a program in the country with more confidence and humility than Idaho because the Vandals know how fragile winning is. Idaho probably won’t win every game to finish its season, but it will win enough games to secure a WAC bowl. The Vandals will stay in state and play in the Humanitarian Bowl.