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Vandals, Cowboys have come down similar paths

MOSCOW, Idaho – In two starts as Idaho quarterback, Dominique Blackman has played in front of a run-of-the-mill crowd of 16,591 at Bowling Green and 92,177 boisterous fans at LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

He’s seen both ends of the college football spectrum, and today he finally gets to take part in a game at the Kibbie Dome. The fact that the crowd likely won’t top 10,000?

“None of that matters,” Blackman said. “We’ve just got to win. We have to win this game, period.”

The winless Vandals host Wyoming at 2 p.m. in a matchup of teams with almost carbon-copy profiles. And the similarities go well beyond their shared 0-3 records:

• Both teams, minus their starting quarterback, dropped games to Big Sky foes (Idaho to Eastern Washington; Wyoming to Cal Poly).

• Both absorbed close losses to Mid-American Conference teams (Idaho to Bowling Green; Wyoming to Toledo).

• And both were beaten handily by national powers (Wyoming lost 37-17 at Texas; Idaho lost 63-14 at LSU).

These teams differ in at least one regard, though. The Vandals rank 119th in the FBS in rushing offense through three weeks, while the Wyoming defense is 118th against the run.

Cowboys QB Brett Smith excelled as a freshman in 2011 (Wyoming went 8-5) but was knocked out of the Toledo game on Sept. 8 when he took a blow to the head.

Smith sat out last week as Cal Poly upset Wyoming. His status is uncertain for today.

Akey declined to characterize Idaho as desperate for a win. Despite the program’s worst start since 2005, he’s seen incremental progress in UI’s preparation and response to adversity.

“And now, being able to string that all together is what I believe is going to get us over the hump,” the sixth-year coach said.

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