Thursday, December 14, 2017.
It was certainly an unexpected turn of events, but it’s reality, and Boise State has to deal with it. The Broncos lost one of their prized recruits yesterday when quarterback Zachary Wilson of Draper, UT, de-committed from Boise State and went back on the market. It must be all the more frustrating for coach Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Zak Hill, who were in Wilson’s living room for a home visit just last Saturday ahead of the new early signing day next Wednesday. Wilson reportedly received new offers this fall from Iowa and BYU, among others. “Sometimes life presents opportunities that need to be considered,” Wilson tweeted. “Especially when it impacts my family, which is number ONE on my priority list.” The reference to his family has some speculating that he’s headed to BYU.
With Montell Cozart gone after this season, Boise State has Brett Rypien and Chase Cord for 2018–and a big hole on the roster otherwise. Truth be told, the Broncos are two quarterbacks short of their ideal allotment now. They’ll have to at least explore the junior college ranks. Harsin has names on the recruiting board that we don’t know about. If only Jake Constantine had hung around after spring football. Constantine bolted for Ventura College in California, where this season he completed 68 percent of his throws for 2,100 yards and 25 touchdowns against five interceptions, with a strong pass efficiency rating of 162.7. He has a visit coming up to Southern Utah of the Big Sky.
The jury’s still out. But there’s still nothing coming out of the Oregon Ducks camp that says Royce Freeman won’t play in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday against Boise State. Since the rout of Oregon State in the Civil War, there had been rumblings that the senior running back would skip the postseason to begin preparing for the NFL Draft. Freeman is in Vegas, though, and is practicing. And he would be a very obvious difference-maker. I mean, Freeman is merely Oregon’s career rushing leader—and sixth in FBS history—with 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns. He comes into the bowl with 1,475 yards and 16 TDs this season, with six straight 100-yard games. With Alexander Mattison unlikely to play for Boise State, Freeman provides the one dimension the Broncos don’t have.
Close followers of the Ducks will tell you that All-Pac-12 left tackle Tyrell Crosby’s presence could be even more important than Freeman’s. Crosby, who was awarded the 2017 Morris Trophy as the conference’s top offensive lineman, has not given up a sack all season according to Pro Football Focus. “How valuable is not allowing a sack? I don’t know, probably as valuable as grading out at 92 percent with about 100-some-odd knockdowns,” said new Oregon coach Mario Cristobal of Crosby. “And I’ll say it without reservation, the best lineman in the country. I have the film to prove it as well.” Crosby may be considering a bypass of the Ducks’ bowl game, but he led the push to hire Cristobal. And besides, he’s from Las Vegas. I’m betting he plays.
GAME DAY GUIDE: Las Vegas Bowl
The Vegas sports media dynamic is very different these days. Coverage of the Las Vegas Bowl finally popped up yesterday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but it was way down the scroll. While UNLV basketball is still prominent in the market, Rebels football is barely a blip down there, and until now the bowl had been getting similar exposure as the city is preoccupied with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and daily coverage of the Oakland Raiders, slated to move to Las Vegas one of these years. Expect the crowd Saturday in Sam Boyd Stadium to be lacking locals, dominated by fans of Boise State and Oregon.
Can Josh Allen go from “90 percent” to 100 percent in the next eight days? The Wyoming quarterback seems determined to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl a week from tomorrow and has been practicing with the first-team offense in Laramie. Coaches says they won’t roll with Allen against Central Michigan unless he’s completely healthy after recovering from last month’s shoulder injury. The consensus from an ESPN panel the other night was that Allen should play if at all possible. His body of work this season is not that good, and it could use one more boost in front of NFL scouts. Chippewas quarterback Shane Morris will be auditioning, too. In other bowl news, the Idaho Potato Commission has agreed to a five-year extension for the naming rights to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, through 2021.
There was going to be a night when the shots wouldn’t fall. Well, here you go. Boise State, which loves to feast on three-pointers, couldn’t buy one from distance last night in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos went 1-for-10 in the first half and just 5-for-24 for the game, but one of them came from Lexus Williams with three seconds left in regulation to tie the game, and they found a way to win over preseason WAC favorite Grand Canyon 85-80 in double-overtime. Boise State had only one lead in the entirety of regulation, that coming on a three-point play by Chandler Hutchison in the second half. Hutchison had 27 points and 11 rebounds and went over the 1,000-point plateau in career scoring.
I said yesterday this one could be categorized a trap game. Until the not-so-bitter end it had the look of one, as Boise State was completely out of sorts until grinding it out late in regulation and OT. Grand Canyon played like their coach, Dan Majerle, used to in the NBA. The Antelopes crashed the glass like no other team has against the Broncos this season. They started with two offensive boards on their first possession and did not let up. GCU outdistanced Boise State in second-chance points 19-3, thanks to 14 offensive rebounds. The Antelopes used that facet of their game to build leads of 10 points in the first half and seven in the second. A loss to Grand Canyon would have been a resume-wilter. But it’s in the books, and the Broncos are 10-1 going into an opportunity for a resume-builder Monday at SMU.
The Idaho Steelheads sure seem to have Rapid City’s number. The Steelheads are 4-0 against the Rush this season following a dominating 5-2 victory last night in CenturyLink Arena. Five different Steelies scored as Idaho coasted after building a 4-0 lead after two periods. Goalie Philippe Desrosiers clocked 33 saves as he improved to 10-2-2 on the season. The Steelheads have won seven of their last nine games heading into a two-game home series versus the Wichita Thunder this weekend.
This Day In Sports…December 14, 1920:
Notre Dame football star George Gipp dies of pneumonia in South Bend, Indiana. Years later, Fighting Irish coach Knute Rockne would deliver a pregame speech telling his team of a final conversation he had at Gipp’s deathbed, where the player is said to have told Rockne to “just win one for the Gipper.” Notre Dame would rally for an upset of undefeated Army in that 1928 game at Yankee Stadium. Gipp’s line would later be immortalized in the 1940 movie "Knute Rockne: All- American" starring future President Ronald Reagan.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)