Friday, October 28, 2016.
It is not lost on coach Bryan Harsin and his Boise State staff that Wyoming pulled a rabbit out of the Broncos’ hat in its victory at Nevada last week. In the second quarter, the Cowboys executed a double-reverse throwback to quarterback Josh Allen, who was wide open in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown. It could have been mistaken for Thomas Sperbeck-to-Brett Rypien for the Broncos. In a game of this magnitude, Harsin expects something to be sprung on his team tomorrow night in Laramie, although it might not be on offense. “There’s probably something on special teams we have to prepare for,” said Harsin. The Cowboys want to win, and they’ll take chances to do it. Just don’t expect it to be a BYU-type gamble, like a fake punt on fourth-and-19 from the five-yard line.
SCOTT SLANT: Improvement: Let Harsin count the ways
One of the many Wyoming Cowboys circling tomorrow on the calendar is safety Andrew Wingate, who this week was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive back. Wingard is currently leading the Mountain West and is ranked eighth in the nation in tackles, averaging 10.7 per game. Wingate has relatives in the Treasure Valley and told me this summer he would have loved to get an offer from the Broncos out of high school. “Nebraska and Boise State were my favorite teams growing up,” said Wingate, a sophomore from Arvada, CO. His dad and his grandpa attended the Broncos’ first Fiesta Bowl.
I think Brett Rypien is the key to tomorrow night’s game for Boise State. If the wind kicks up like it’s expected to, Rypien will have to be extra accurate. When you analyze his overall numbers, his pass efficiency rating is really good—at 159.8, he’s currently 11th in the country. The only reason Rypien’s not higher is his completion percentage at 62.6 percent. That’s not bad, but it’s not at the level previous Boise State quarterbacks have been. The sophomore standout has to be on point tomorrow against a Wyoming defense that is tied for eighth in the country with 11 interceptions—and against a wind that could kick up to 40 miles per hour, lest his throws be blown all the way to Devil’s Tower.
On the other side is Josh Allen, who’s actually been one of the better quarterbacks in a QB-challenged conference this year. Allen has thrown for 1,339 yards and 10 touchdowns against six interceptions, and his pass efficiency rating is above average at 141.0. And Allen does something Rypien doesn’t do: he runs. Allen has a net 278 yards rushing and five TDs this season and is averaging 4.0 yards per carry—even with sacks included. One thing in his favor is Taysom Hill-type size; Allen is 6-5, 223 pounds. Wyoming needs a good performance from Allen to keep the Broncos from keying totally on the nation’s second-leading riusher, Brian Hill.
Elsewhere in the Mountain West this weekend, look for an interesting game in Logan tonight between San Diego State and Utah State. The Aggies got some confidence back in last week’s win over Fresno State and could compete with the West Division-leading Aztecs. Air Force should regain some confidence of its own tonight as it visits Fresno State in the Bulldogs’ first game without the fired Tim DeRuyter. The other two games are pretty much tossups: UNLV at San Jose State (next week’s blue turf guest) and New Mexico at Hawaii.
Handicapping Idaho’s chances of a bowl game as the Vandals enjoy a bye week: the Sagarin computer ratings show that it’ll be an adventure, but that Idaho has a legitimate shot. The Vandals are on the road for the next two games, and at this moment they would be favored by three points at Louisiana-Lafayette and by a touchdown at Texas State. That would be something if they had it wrapped up by the time they returned to the Kibbie Dome. Their final two games in Moscow would have them as slight underdogs—by about one point against South Alabama and two versus Georgia State.
Gradually, senior classes are getting larger at College of Idaho. It’s already Senior Day for the Coyotes tomorrow, and they’ll be sending off 10 players who have helped build the revived program in its infancy. One of them is Nate Moore, the Mountain View High grad who transferred from Carroll College in 2014. Moore was a preseason Sporting News NAIA All-American and has lived up to the billing. Twice he has been named NAIA Natonal Defensive Player of the Week, including last week when his 12 tackles and clutch fourth quarter interception led the Yotes to a 44-41 upset of Southern Oregon in overtime. Other Treasure Valley seniors include Vallivue’s Ringo Robinson, Borah’s Tyler Higby and Meridian’s Monte Huskey.
This is the earliest Boise State has ever played a men’s basketball game. It’s only an exhibition, but the Broncos will take it in order to get on the floor as Lewis-Clark State comes into Taco Bell Arena tonight. Sophomore forward Davd Wacker has been especially anxious for this—he’s been waiting since suffereing a season-ending foot injury early last December to play some actual hoops. The Warriors bring some local talent home tonight. Derrick White, a sophomore guard from Capital High, scored 21 points in LCSC’s two routs of Northwest Indian College last weekend, while freshman forward Connor DesAulniers out of Centennial added 15. Also, College of Idaho hoops plays for real this weekend, as the Coyotes open the season at the Quinn Classic in LaGrande versus Trinity Western tonight and Bethesda tomorrow night.
The Idaho Steelheads and Reading Royals continue their three-game series tonight at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads were cold in the third period Wednesday but were hot in the second, particularly Rob Linsmayer and Will Merchant. They were the only multi-point Steelies on the night, as each fed the other for tallies in the period. Idaho nearly drew even late in the third when Merchant took another slick Rob Linsmayer had a shot ring off the left post.
At the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship yesterday in Jackson, MS, it was a round Graham DeLaet has been waiting a long time for. DeLaet opened with a six-under 66 and is contending, going into the second round tied for sixth. Fellow former Boise State standout Troy Merritt shot a three-under 69, and Nampa Tyler Aldridge was one-under at 71.
The Mountain West Cross Country Championships take off at Falcon Crest today, the first time Boise State has hosted a conference championship since 2005. The Bronco women are without star Allie Ostrander, who won the meet last year but is using a redshirt year this fall. They still have the meet favorite, though, in sophomore Brenna Peloquin, who has titles in two major national races this season. The 24th-ranked Boise State men are projected to finish second behind No. 17 Colorado State. The women are also tabbed second behind No. 7 New Mexico. Also, the Bronco women’s soccer team wraps up the regular season today against Utah State at the Boas Complex, accompanied by the news that midfielder Sarah Taylor will represent Canada at the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup next month in Papua, New Guinea.
This Day In Sports…October 28, 1981:
Down two games to none to the Yankees, the Dodgers storm back to win their fourth straight game and claim the World Series. LA’s Pedro Guerrero stung the Yanks with a home run and five runs batted in during the 9-2 romp. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner then stung his own troops, issuing a public apology for his team’s play in the Series. The Dodgers have taken one world championship since, in 1988.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)