Thursday, October 6, 2016.
To this point, it’s been all about the pressure facing the Boise State defense in tomorrow night’s game at New Mexico. But think about the 21 points the Broncos scored in last week’s win over Utah State. Will that be enough in Albuquerque? Last year, 24 weren’t enough in the shocking 31-24 loss to the Lobos. The Boise State offense has, in fact, scored just three touchdowns in the past six quarters dating back to halftime at Oregon State. As for the last four quarters of that stretch, the Utah State defense was good—but was it that good? The New Mexico defense isn’t at the Aggies’ level regardless. But the Lobos and their triple-option are leading the Mountain West in scoring at 38.8 points per game. The Broncos need to light up the scoreboard lamps tomorrow.
It was a bizarre night on the blue turf last November. How did the Boise State offense contribute to the nightmare? After all, the Broncos rolled up 638 yards, 506 of them through the air, and amassed 40 first downs. But mistakes cascaded down upon them. There were blown opportunities galore early in the game, including a ricochet interception, an egregious overthrow, and a missed chip-shot field goal. There were more turnovers to come, of course. Plus dropped passes—lots of them. And an obsession with a deep passing game that was not working. Remember that Brett Rypien ended up shattering the school record with 75 pass attempts. It was not the way Boise State drew it up.
Let’s get this reminiscing out of the way. Next subject: the oddsmakers. How do you like Boise State being favored over New Mexico by 17½ points? Last year’s point spread in this game, which was 30½, was historic. It was the biggest upset involving FBS teams all season based on the point spread. The only bigger one in college football in 2015 was Portland State’s victory over Washington State on opening weekend, when the Cougars were 31½-point favorites. The Broncos never cover the spread against triple-option teams. And sometimes they don’t win.
Boise State does seem to have an edge to it this year, though. The Broncos are one of only two remaining teams in the country that has yet to trail in a game (the other is Miami). This is just the second time in Boise State’s FBS era the team has not been behind at any point through the season’s first four games. The only other Bronco team to achieve that in the past 20 years was the 2009 squad, which set the program record by getting all the way into the seventh game of the season before trailing.
For some of college football’s award watch lists, it’s not too late. That’s the case for Boise State’s David Moa, who has been added to the Polynesian College Football Player Of The Year Watch List. Moa did not come out of nowhere as far as his coaches and teammates are concerned, but fans saw him in only four games last season, when he logged three tackles and a sack. This season he’s already posed 12 tackles, three pass breakups, and 5.5 sacks, the sixth-best figure in the country. The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame will announce five finalists for the award on November 17.
The Milk Can, the trophy that goes to the winner of the Boise State-Fresno State game, remains in the Bronco barn for one more year. I bring that up because the Bulldogs play at Nevada Saturday in a game between two of Boise State’s biggest rivals. They don’t seem that way now—out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Moreso because of each team’s current predicament. The Bulldogs are 1-4 and are in disarray, while the Wolf Pack is licking its wounds after an embarrassing 38-17 loss at Hawaii. For 44 years, the Broncos and Nevada faced off in every season except four. Now they’ve missed two in a row. The 15th anniversary of the night the Fresno State rivalry ignited is coming up later this month. That, of course, was Boise State’s shocking 35-30 upset of the eighth-ranked Bulldogs in 2001.
Although Boise State has been able to avoid this inevitability, college football is cyclical. Take the Washington-Oregon point spread, for example. Huskies by nine points on Saturday in Autzen Stadium. Chris Petersen, who has UW up to No. 5 in the AP Poll after last Friday’s 44-6 rout of Stanford, hasn’t beaten the Ducks since Opening Night on the blue turf in 2009 (and Washington has lost 12 straight in the series). But Oregon has shockingly lost its last three games. Rest assured that the Ducks have their wardrobe in order, though. They have big plans, decking out in their throwback “Webfoots” uniforms. The school's fight song is on them, while the chest will read "Webfoots," which is what the program was known as during its first three decades of existence. Is that worth any points against Coach Pete?
Boise State hoops fans will remember Brady Jardine, the former Twin Falls Bruin who dealt them some frustrating moments while he was a Utah State Aggie. Now his brother, Casdon Jardine, is slated to suit up as a Bronco next season. The younger Jardine has committed to Boise State, according to multiple sources. He just returned from an LDS mission and will play at College of Southern Idaho this season. That’s a perfect place for Jardine to get his basketball legs back.
Tyler Aldridge’s final shot at retaining his PGA Tour card for the 2016-17 season has vaporized. The Web.com Tour Championship this weekend at Atlantic Beach, FL, near Jacksonville has been canceled due to the pending threat of Hurricane Matthew. That means the Web.com Tour Finals money list is final as it stands now, and Aldridge is out of the running for a card. The former Vallivue Falcon and one-time Boise State golfer is headed back to the Web.com Tour. The Albertsons Boise Open champion, Michael Thompson, finished third on the Finals money list and will begin the PGA Tour season next week at the Safeway Open in Napa, CA.
The Boys of Winter return to the ice today, as the Idaho Steelheads begin training camp at CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads released their camp roster yesterday, devoid of surprises. There are 16 players to start with, including four returnees from last season: defenseman Corbin Baldwin, forwards Jefferson Dahl and Kyle Jean, and goaltender Branden Komm. Several others from last year’s squad who are currently in camp with the AHL’s Texas Stars will eventually join them. The Steelies’ annual “season ticket holders only” exhibition game is already looming, as the Utah Grizzlies will be in Boise next Tuesday.
This Day In Sports…October 6, 2001, 15 years ago today:
A sobering night in Boise State’s first year in the WAC (also sobering considering BSU plays at New Mexico tomorrow night). Rice’s option attack took apart the Bronco defense to the tune of 430 rushing yards in a 45-14 rout in Houston. And the Owls did it on a record 82 carries, getting that many because of Boise State’s inability to get out of drives. Little did we know the loss to Rice would be one of only five the Broncos would experience in 10 years in the WAC. It was 13 days later that Boise State turned a corner in its football history with the landmark 35-30 upset of No. 8 Fresno State.
(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.)