The University of Idaho won its fourth straight season opener with a 43-10 victory over Southern Utah. The Vandals' offense was effective on the ground, from the air, and over the goal post, while SUU managed its only scores within the final minute of each half.
The Thunderbirds expected big things from the Vandal offense and All-American runner Sheridan May. Idaho's defense was more than they counted on, though, allowing just 128 SUU offensive yards in the game."They were big, physical and very quick. I hope they're really as good as they looked here or we have some real problems with our offensive line," SUU head coach Jack Bishop said.
"That's the most soundly I've ever been beaten at home. Their defense was in there so quick that I can't even tell you how good Rick Robins or the backfield played."
Idaho's first points could be blamed on first-game jitters as SUU lost a snap to punter Ron Lindburg for a safety less than two minutes into the contest.
Idaho, accustomed to season opener victory, was more than composed, using its first two minutes to march 50 yards in six plays to a Joel Thomas TD.
All-American Sheridan May showed the 'Birds how he got his reputation, picking up 33 yards in his first three runs. May racked up a total of 112 yards in 24 carries, and scored his 50th career touchdown to tie with Jerry Rice in the NCAA I-AA record books.
Vandal kicker then started piling up points, first with a 51-yard rocket midway through the first quarter, then a 27-yarder midway through the second.
The Vandals kept SUU to just four yards' total offense through most of the first half, capping their final possession with another Thomas touchdown with three minutes left in the half.
Southern Utah woke up during those final three minutes to earn four first downs, 70 yards, and a Benji Nelson field goal to end the half trailing 3-22.
In the fourth, T-Bird backup quarterback Craig Van Woerkom took advantage of Idaho's only turnover on the Vandal 35 and let Gary Perkins run the bulk of the yardage to end the game with a Brad Muir one yard touchdown.
The Thunderbirds travel to Flagstaff next weekend for another Big Sky competitor with Northern Arizona.