BIG SKY, BIG WINS
When it comes to FCS programs slaying the FBS monster, the Big Sky Conference boasts the most giant killers this season. Through three weeks, four Big Sky teams have produced victories over FBS programs: Cal-Poly over Wyoming, Sacramento State over Colorado, Northern Arizona over UNLV and Eastern Washington over Idaho. Idaho State hasn’t defeated an FBS team since 2000, when it beat Utah State.
READY TO RUMBLE?
Rodrick Rumble not only has an awesome name, he’s a pretty good receiver, too. Rumble, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior wide receiver, had the second-most receiving yards in Idaho State history last season with 1,348 and set the single-season Big Sky Conference record with 112 receptions. One problem: Rumble has yet to play this season, for reasons coach Mike Kramer wouldn’t disclose. Will he play Saturday? “We’ll see the first snap,” Kramer said.
THE FBS ROAD
Saturday’s crowd at Memorial Stadium will likely be the second-largest to ever see an Idaho State football game, surpassing the 84,749 at Oklahoma in 2009. The Bengals’ largest crowd was 92,746 at Georgia in 2010. The smallest FBS crowd, since 2004, to see Idaho State was 22,034 last season at Washington State.
BENGALS ON OFFENSE
Here’s yet another offense that likes to press the pace. Idaho State had taken 180 snaps through two games — an average-per-game that even a sportswriter can figure without a calculator: 90.
This is where the Bengals differ from the other spread attacks Nebraska has faced this year: They’d much rather throw the ball. Senior quarterback Kevin Yost has already thrown for 803 yards and four touchdowns on a 74.3 percent completion rate.
The question will be up front, where the Bengals are “dreadfully young,” coach Mike Kramer said. Left tackle Colin Prestesater (6-6, 285) is the biggest offensive lineman, and he’s a freshman. The rest of the line includes two sophomores, another freshman and one senior, Mark Clampitt, at right guard.
“Whether we are playing Nebraska or the Green Bay Packers or Black Hills State’s JVs, our pass protection continues to be the focus on the improvement that this team has to make,” said Kramer, whose team has allowed only two sacks. “We feel if we can give Kevin enough time to throw, he’s really getting good at getting into a rhythm and finding open receivers.”
BENGALS ON DEFENSE
Idaho State replaced all three starting linebackers from last year’s team. Mitch Beckstead, a sophomore making his first career start at WILL linebacker, had 10 tackles at Air Force and is the Bengals’ leading tackler through two games with 19. He’s also recovered a fumble, the only turnover Idaho State has forced.
Jake Pele, a junior, is a MIKE linebacker who had seven tackles at Air Force. Playing alongside him at KING linebacker is Demetrius Allen, a sophomore from Miami (Fla.) Northwestern High School who’s coming off a career-high nine tackles against Black Hills State.
Defensive end Leki Faupau, who plays the anchor position in Idaho State’s 3-4 look, is back in the starting lineup after missing the 2011 season. He has six tackles and forced the aforementioned fumble at Air Force.
Idaho State opponents are 7-of-27 on third downs.
BENGALS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Junior Brendon Garcia has appeared in all 22 games he’s been at Idaho State, and has kicked career-long field goals of 50 yards on three different occasions. He also missed four PATs last season. Garcia handles kickoffs, and has three touchbacks on 11 attempts.
Punter C.J. Reyes has a 45.4-yard average on seven attempts, with three punts of more than 50 yards, including a 63-yarder. Note: Reyes is also the backup quarterback.