NEW ORLEANS, La. -- As they enter their final season in the Sun Belt, it is clear the Idaho football team is still trying to earn respect throughout the conference.
The Vandals were picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll that the league released on Thursday.
A year ago the Vandals went 6-2 in Sun Belt play, which included four straight conference wins to cap the regular season. They also earned their first bowl berth since 2009 and went on to beat Colorado State, 61-50, in one of the highest scoring postseason games in history.
“We are excited to get the season going,” head coach Paul Petrino said. “We are going to build off our success from last year. We know this is a tough conference, but we are working hard to win another bowl game this season.”
The Vandals return 10 starters this season, headlined by quarterback Matt Linehan. The senior has thrown for 8,716 yards in his career, the second most among active players in the FBS.
Idaho is set to begin their final season at the FBS level. Next year they will drop back down to the FCS classification and re-join the Big Sky Conference.
2017 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Order of Finish
1. Appalachian St. (7) - 136 points
2. Troy (2)) - 127 points
3. Arkansas State (1) - 122 points
4. South Alabama - 98 points
5. Louisiana-Lafayette (1) - 95 points
6. Idaho - 84 points
7. Georgia Southern - 82 points
8. Georgia State - 48 points
9. Louisiana-Monroe - 46 points
10. New Mexico State (1) - 41 points
11. Texas State - 31 points
12. Coastal Carolina - 26 points