|1986 Idaho Vandals football|
|Conference||Big Sky Conference|
|Record||8–4 (5–2 Big Sky)|
|Offensive coordinator||Bill Diedrick (1st season)|
|Defensive coordinator||Kent Baer (1st season)|
|Home stadium||Kibbie Dome|
|1986 Big Sky Conference football standings|
|No. 1 Nevada $^||7||–||0||–||0||13||–||1||–||0|
|No. 16 Idaho ^||5||–||2||–||0||8||–||4||–||0|
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA Poll
The 1986 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1986 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals, led by first-year head coach Keith Gilbertson, were members of the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
Continuing upon the success of the previous four seasons under Dennis Erickson, the Vandals were defending conference champions and finished the regular season at 8–3 and 5–2 in the Big Sky, tied for second. Led by senior quarterback Scott Linehan, Idaho qualified for the I-AA playoffs for the second straight season.
The Vandals defeated rival Boise State for the fifth consecutive year, the fifth of twelve straight over the Broncos, but lost twice to Nevada, who were top-ranked in I-AA and undefeated in the regular season. Uncommon for a playoff team, the Vandals were shut out at home 24–0 by Northern Arizona in late October.
The playoffs were expanded from 12 to 16 teams in 1986 NCAA Division I-AA football season, eliminating the first round bye for the top four seeds. Idaho and Big Sky champion Nevada were the only two teams selected from the West, and were paired up in the first round in Reno two days after Thanksgiving. In mid-October the teams played a close defensive game, and the Vandals came up short by four points. The rematch in the post-season was not close as the Wolf Pack prevailed 27–7, improving their record over Idaho to 8–1 since joining the Big Sky in 1979.
The 1986 team included two future NFL head coaches: quarterback Scott Linehan and offensive lineman Tom Cable. Future NFL players with lengthy pro careers included guard Mark Schlereth (redshirt sophomore) and redshirt freshman John Friesz, a future collegiate hall of fame quarterback was Linehan's back-up in 1986. Friesz was a three-year starter (1987–89) and defeated Nevada-Reno all three seasons, including the first-ever victory in Reno in 1988.
|September 6||6:30 pm||Portland State (D-II)*||W 42–10|
|September 13||10:00 am||at Central Michigan (Div. I-A)*||L 21–34|
|September 20||1:00 pm||Cal State Fullerton (Div. I-A)*||W 25–17||12,500|
|September 27||1:00 pm||at No. 6 Eastern Washington*||W 27–10||7,835|
|October 4||6:30 pm||Idaho State||No. 17||W 38–26||9,500|
|October 18||1:00 pm||at No. 1 Nevada||No. 12||L 17–23||13,825|
|October 25||6:30 pm||Northern Arizona||No. 15||L 0–24|
|November 1||12:00 pm||at Montana||W 38–31|
|November 8||6:30 pm||Montana State||W 44–17|
|November 15||6:30 pm||Weber State||W 31–17|
|November 22||12:30 pm||at Boise State||No. 20||W 21–14||21,275|
|November 29||12:00 pm||at No. 1 Nevada*||No. 16||L 7–27||13,715|
|1986 Idaho Vandals football team roster|
Linebacker Tom Hennessey was a repeat selection to the all-conference team. Eight Vandals were included on the second team: safety Mark Tidd, linebacker Nolan Harper, defensive end Kord Smith, quarterback Scott Linehan, running back Steve Jackson, wide receiver Brant Bengen, and tackles Paul Taggert and Greg Hale.