Idaho eyes first 3-0 start since ’94, first win over Cal

Field Level Media

September 13, 2023 at 4:51 am.

Unbeaten and boasting a defense that has outperformed nationally ranked Southern California this season, Idaho looks to beat Cal in football for the first time when the former conference rivals meet Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

The Vandals (2-0) are brimming with confidence after smacking Lamar 42-17 and Nevada 33-6 in the first two weeks, both on the road.

Quarterback Gevani McCoy clearly is very excited about his team, ranked No. 10 in this week’s FCS poll, proclaiming, “We have so many guys and so many weapons, it’s not even fair, honestly.”

That started to become clear on the first offensive play of last week’s win over Nevada — Idaho’s first win over an FBS team in six years — when McCoy connected with tight end Turon Ivy Jr. on a 75-yard touchdown pass.

The Vandals also feature running back Anthony Woods, star of the win over Lamar with 138 rushing yards.

Yet it’s the Idaho defense that has coach Jason Eck most excited, especially after that unit held Nevada to 266 total yards. The week before, Nevada put up 360 yards against the Southern California defense.

“I’m happy for us,” Eck said after the Nevada game. “I thought our defense defended them better than USC did.”

If Idaho is to go 3-0 for the first time since 1994, it’s going to have to do something it’s never done before – beat Cal (1-1). The Golden Bears and Vandals used to coexist in the Pacific Coast Conference, where the teams met four times, with Cal winning them all.

When Idaho makes its first trip to Berkeley since 1934, it will encounter a Cal team stinging from a 14-10 home defeat at the hands of Auburn. Cal lost star running back Jaydn Ott to a hard fall during the game and found itself having to insert season-opening quarterback Sam Jackson V despite a left shoulder injury.

Jackson will start against Idaho; Ott, who had 197 rushing yards in the opening win over North Texas, is likely to get … hopefully a bit wiser, coach Justin Wilcox said.

“Jaydn is always a guy that’s going to try to make a play,” Wilcox said, “but generally speaking, leaving your feet, especially against good players, doesn’t end great. So, we’ve got to learn from that one.”