The most points ever scored by a Vandal squad occurred in 1923.  The game was the season opener against the College of Idaho.  Idaho thoroughly outclassed the visitors, held them scoreless, and walked away with an 83-0 victory.  This era was one of the great periods of Idaho football.  Idaho’s dominating victory over C of I was no fluke – Idaho didn’t allow a single point through the first 6 games.  The streak was only broken in the final two games – losses against USC and Stanford.

MacLean Field 1923

MacLean Field 1923

1923-2 1923-3

After beating Montana 40-0 in the second game of the season Idaho headed to Pullman to take on the Cougs at Rogers Field.  Idaho had lost eight in a row to the Cougs and would finally break through this year.  Powered by strong punting and stout defense, the Vandal defense twice held the Cougs from scoring from six inches out of the end zone.  The crowd was described as the largest in the history of WSC.

Idaho defeats Gonzaga

After beating WSC Idaho looked to end another losing streak the very next week.  Idaho had never beaten the ducks in the two decades since the schools began playing.  This year would be no different, but it would not be a loss either.  Idaho held the ducks scoreless and the game ended in a scoreless tie.  Oregon was the stronger club, but Idaho’s defense once again came through in the clutch and prevented the ducks from scoring.  It was truly a special season for the Vandal defense. Once again, the Idaho team sported the traditional Red jerseys for the 1923 season.

Idaho defeats WSC

The remarkable defensive effort continued the next week against Gonzaga.  Again holding their opponent scoreless, the Vandal defense intercepted many key passes en route to a 13-0 victory in front of a capacity crowd of 8000 at McLean Field.

After defeating Gonzaga, the mighty Vandals would travel south to Boise to face the Oregon Aggies.  In the capital city Idaho would break another losing streak.  Idaho had never defeated Oregon State – until 1923.  The Vandals came out victorious by a score of 7-0.

Unfortunately Idaho’s luck would run out the next week against Stanford.  Not only would Idaho give up their first points of the season, but they would also lose their first game of the season to the team from Palo Alto.  Idaho had a good showing, though, losing a close game 17-7.    In fact, Idaho would go 0-2 during its invasion of California, dropping the final game of the season 9-0 to USC.  Idaho’s defense again was the star of the game, while the offense could not break through the Trojan line.  In fact the Vandal defense gave up only 7 points with the Trojans scoring a safety near the end of the game.

Idaho finished the season unbeaten and unscored-upon in the northwest. Former Vandal Abe MacGregor asserts that it was a running joke that Washington was afraid to play Idaho in those days.

Idaho Vandals 1923

Idaho’s squad was so formidable that a Portland beat writer described them as “formidable dark horse” with a “murderous schedule”.  It’s amazing then that Idaho would go through the Northwest colleges undefeated losing only to the much larger California institutions.


About gomightyvandals

A sports fan interested in the history of Vandal Athletics
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