Southern Utah's first step will be defeating vastly improved Idaho State, which is 3-4 this season and comes off a hard-fought 39-30 loss at Northern Arizona.
After facing the Bengals, Southern Utah closes out against rival Weber State, fifth-ranked Montana State and 16th-ranked NAU.
If the Thunderbirds stumble anywhere along the way, their playoff hopes will end.
"Every player and coach thinks how grand it would be to win out," SUU coach Ed Lamb said.
"But right now we are focused only on this [Idaho State] game. It will be a real challenge for us."
Southern Utah's playoff hopes took a hit last weekend, when third-ranked Eastern Washington pounded the Thunderbirds, 34-10.
"They really beat us in every phase of the game," Lamb said. "We were never really in it. We were never able to move [the ball] consistently."
Idaho State at Southern Utah
O At Eccles Coliseum (Cedar City)
Kickoff • Saturday, 1 p.m.
Radio • 91.1 FM; www.suu.edu/ksuu
Records • Idaho State 3-4, 1-3 Big Sky; SUU 5-3, 2-2
Series history • Idaho State leads 9-4-1
Last meeting • Idaho State, 38-13 (2005)
About the Thunderbirds • They come off a 34-10 loss at Eastern Washington. … Their defense allowed a season-high 489 yards of total offense. … They remain third in the Big Sky Conference in points allowed (21.6). … Senior WR Fatu Moala needs nine receptions to move into fourth place on their all-time list.
About the Bengals • They are 0-3 on the road, where they have lost to Washington (56-0), UC Davis (30-13) and Northern Arizona (39-30). … With three wins, they have already matched their combined total from 2011 and 2012.