Weber State's football team plays its final game of the 2012 season, and possibly the last one with Jody Sears serving as head coach, when the Wildcats travel to Pocatello, Idaho, on Saturday to face traditional Big Sky Conference rival Idaho State University.
The two teams have just two victories combined and one league win between them all season long, and Sears — thrust into the unenviable role of taking over as interim head coach upon John L. Smith's abrupt departure in April to take the Arkansas job — could very well be gone as head coach regardless of what happens Saturday in Holt Arena.
However, if ever the Wildcats could ever count on coming away with a win, despite their 1-9 record, it would be in this matchup with the Bengals, who have lost eight straight games and have been beaten by Weber State in every one of their last nine meetings. The 'Cats have won 15 of the last 17 games overall in the series.
“I think our offense probably played its best game of the year," Sears said of last week's 42-34 loss to Northern Colorado. "We just weren’t able to make some defensive stops when we needed to, which was disappointing. Our kids played their hearts out; we just didn’t have the consistency we needed.
“We’re looking forward to playing a rivalry game at Idaho State this week. We've got to get ready for Idaho State and go to Pocatello and play good ball. I don't care what their record is — it's all about us. This is the seniors' last hurrah, and it's against their rival, right? You always get up for your rival. Just throw out the stats, throw out the records and go up their with a mission and with a purpose."
Weber State senior quarterback Mike Hoke threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns, both season-highs, in last week's loss to Northern Colorado. Entering the final game of his collegiate career, Hoke currently ranks eighth in school history in career passing yards with 4,456. He needs 145 more passing yards to move into sixth place on the list.
Hoke says the Wildcats should be ready to play in their season-finale, and the WSU offense should be eager to go up against an ISU defense that might be the worst in the country, allowing a whopping 55.2 points per game — 60.7 ppg in Big Sky games — including four outings when it gave up 70 or more. The Bengals are also last in the country in rushing offense, rushing defense and total defense.
"It's just our last chance as this group, as an offense and defense and special teams. This is our last chance together," he said. "This team is never going to be together; this group of individuals is never going to be together again, so I expect everyone to use that as motivation or just a reason to prepare, a reason to play hard because this is it — so leave everything on the field.
"We have the whole offseason to recover. This is the last game most of us are going to play as seniors, so we should have a lot of emotion going into that one."
However, Idaho State senior quarterback Kevin Yost is dangerous, ranking first in the Big Sky and fourth in the country in total offense with 333.4 yards per game. He leads the league with 338.9 passing yards per game, and senior Rodrick Rumble leads the league in receptions and averages 104.4 receiving yards a game.
Weber State (1-9, 1-6 Big Sky) at Idaho State (1-9, 0-7)
Saturday, 4 p.m. MST
Holt Arena, Pocatello, Idaho
TV: none Radio: 106.9 FM