Idaho earned automatic berth in NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship. Nevada earned at-large berth in NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship.
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA poll (released before championship playoffs)
The Vandals won their first outright conference title since 1971 (the 1982 team tied for the title, but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to Montana). Led by redshirt junior quarterback Scott Linehan, Idaho finished the regular season at 9-2 and 6-1 in the Big Sky. Keith Gilbertson returned as offensive coordinator in 1985, following three spring seasons in the USFL.
The 1985 season marked the first time in school history that the Vandals had four consecutive winning seasons in football.
The Vandals opened the season with a 15-point loss at Oregon State in Corvallis, whom they had defeated the year before in Moscow. After six straight losses to Nevada-Reno, Idaho recorded its first conference victory over the Wolf Pack, who joined the Big Sky in 1979. The Vandals defeated rivalBoise State for the fourth consecutive year, the fourth of twelve straight over the Broncos. A key one-point road loss to Idaho State in late October prevented the Vandals from attaining an important first round bye in the I-AA playoffs.
After a two season absence, Idaho returned to the 12-team I-AA playoffs, hosting independent Eastern Washington, whom they had defeated four weeks earlier by three touchdowns. The Eagles won the rematch, a back-and-forth contest before a sparse crowd at the Kibbie Dome, two days after Thanksgiving. (EWU joined the Big Sky in 1987, raising league membership to nine institutions.) For the following season in 1986, the I-AA playoffs expanded from 12 to 16 teams, which eliminated the bye week for the top four seeds.