There was something that happened on Saturday that was just as rare as a fumbled punt returned for a touchdown on the last play of the game. Both Georgia State and Idaho won, at the same time, both on the road.
That’s like winning the lottery after seeing Haley’s Comet, then being struck by lightning.
You see, Georgia State and Idaho finished the 2014 season with the same record at 1-11. Both the Panthers and Vandals were had won only three games in the last two years. And both teams had tough seasons so far, going a combined 2-8 entering today’s games.
But this Saturday, both teams overcame different obstacles on the road to pull out close wins against decent teams in Ball State and Troy, respectively.
Georgia State already had a road win against New Mexico State this season, but the Panthers’ 31-19 win over Ball State is a much bigger deal. After losses at Oregon and home defeats to Liberty and Appalachian State, the Panthers were clear underdogs against the Cardinals.
But thanks to a 412-yard, three-touchdown effort by quarterback Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State held off a fourth-quarter rally by Ball State for a 31-19 win.
For head coach Treat Miles, who hasn’t seen a whole lot of winning, it was enough to get him to loosen up with his team in the locker room.
While Georgia State partied on the plane ride home, the Idaho players are probably still sleeping.
Thanks to mechanical problems with their plane, the Vandals didn’t take off for their flight to Alabama until 3:30 a.m. Pacific time. Idaho arrived in Troy a little after 9 a.m. Central time, giving the Vandals four hours to prepare to play the Trojans.
Despite the lack of sleep and the jet lag, Idaho gutted out a 19-16 win by the Vandal defense forcing four turnovers. Austin Rehkow kicked four field goals, including the game-winner from 19 yards out with three minutes left in the game.
“I’ve won Sugar Bowls, Cotton Bowls, huge games my whole life,” head coach Paul Petrino said, via GoVandals.com. “I don’t know if anyone was better than that. With everything our players went through the last 24 hours, for them to go out there and lay it on the line like that … give it everything they’ve got. It’s just a special day.”
The wins will not put either Georgia State or Idaho into the conversation for a bowl bid, but it’s nice to see teams struggling to get on the winning side finally get a moment in the sun, on the same day. Especially for Idaho, which overcame a travelling nightmare to get a win.
Now the question is will either Georgia State or Idaho go on a winning streak? The Vandals have a chance to win back-to-back games when they host Louisiana-Monroe next week, while Georgia State has a bye week before travelling to Arkansas State on Halloween.
While the next few days will belong to the teams at the top of the Sun Belt Conference, Saturday’s games belonged to the teams at the bottom.