If "Joe Vandal" and "Buster Bronco" were ever going to get into an always entertaining mascot fight, they better get to it Friday night.
No. 4 Boise State and Idaho may never face each other again.
It seems unfathomable in a state as sparsely populated as Idaho with just two state schools playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision that those teams wouldn't meet on a yearly basis.
But with the rise of Boise State and its impending move to the Mountain West Conference, which will leave Idaho behind in the Western Athletic Conference, there's no longer a requirement to face the smaller, more remote Vandals on a yearly basis.
So, for now, Friday's 40th meeting between the Broncos and Vandals is the finale.
"I think the rival games and the bowl games are two of the things that make college football great," Idaho coach Robb Akey said. "I think it's an important thing to be played and if they're calling it a rivalry then I think they should feel that way, too."
The earliest the two schools could play again would be 2013, but if the WAC expands to 10 members starting in 2012, then Idaho has its non-conference schedule booked until 2015, Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said. Boise State's non-conference slate is jammed up for the next two seasons as well.
"We're going to explore various options with the University of Idaho," Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said Wednesday. "I'm not in a position to speculate what that will look like. But we will explore various ways to keep the rivalry going."
But after the harsh comments from both schools over the summer, it's hard to imagine the rift being closed anytime soon.
The rivalry between the Vandals and Broncos has had some rough moments, whether its Vandal fans reveling in dousing "Buster" in alcoholic beverages, or Spear refusing to board a Boise State-themed plane a few years back.
But it reached a new pitch over the summer when Boise State made clear it had no intentions of playing the Vandals again -- unless it's on the Broncos terms.
In other words: never again making a trip to Moscow, the small, remote town of about 23,000 on the Idaho-Washington border.
Boise State President Bob Kustra told the Idaho Statesman editorial board in July that the Vandal culture in Moscow was "nasty" and "inebriated," setting off a whirlwind of mudslinging up and down the potato state.
Kustra said his words were a reaction to a recent opinion piece entitled "Reasons to Hate Boise State" from the University of Idaho student newspaper.
"It troubles me that the occasion of an annual football game causes the air waves and Internet to be full of disparagement of Boise State's students, faculty and programs, year after year," Kustra said.
Even some players got involved in some of the name-calling this week. While raving about Boise State's football team, Idaho running back Deonte Jackson referred to Kustra as a "blue and orange snot."
Idaho officials have been told not to expect Kustra to make the trip north for Friday's game.
"I certainly agree with our president that these in-state rivalries are supposed to be fun," Spear said. "They're supposed to be great for your state and should be able to help promote your state."
The division between the two schools has validity on both sides of the argument.
The Broncos don't see the value in playing what will become a non-conference game in the 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome with limited tickets for their fans, a difficult six-hour drive through mountainous terrain, no financial benefit and likely no help to their Bowl Championship Series standing that regularly takes a hit for its weak schedule.
"Those are just hard decisions," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "I don't think it's going away forever. I really don't. ... Everybody talks about Boise State and the schedule. And so, we're trying to make it the best we can. We're trying to please everybody. But as you know you can't please everybody. I think the game will eventually come back."
Idaho isn't willing to give up on the 40 years of history between the rivals that has seen them split the games between Moscow and Boise every season since 1971, no matter the conference affiliation.
"It's got to be done the right way also, and when I say the right way I mean it's got to be played home-and-home or you don't play at all," Akey said this week.
Petersen doesn't necessarily agree, noting the largest segment of Idaho's alumni in the state resides in the Boise area.
"We've got a big stadium so if everybody wants to see it, let's let everybody see it right here where all the seats are," Petersen said.
Spear said there are ongoing talks with Bleymaier about finding a solution. He said, "we need to play that game," but he agrees with Akey that it shouldn't be played in Boise every year.
"The fact that it's talked about and it's being talked about with emotion, I think that tells you it's an important thing and it does matter," Akey said. "If it didn't matter there wouldn't have been any emotion about it, let alone being discussed."