Monday, October 2, 2017.
Maybe we all need to do a calendar check. It’s the second day of October, and there are eight games remaining in Boise State’s regular season. As fragile as the Broncos looked in their 19-point home loss to Virginia, they do have some feathers in their collective cap. What do we make of them? Troy went into Death Valley and beat LSU 24-21 Saturday night. Washington State edged No. 5 USC 30-27 in Pullman Friday night (and zoomed up to No. 11 in both polls). New Mexico followed its 16-13 win at Tulsa by laying eight touchdowns on Air Force and rolling 56-38 at home (Virginia had a bye). So Boise State has—apparently—faced some good competition over its first four games. We won’t know until the end of November whether it’s relevant or not.
The bye week gave us a chance to statistically reflect on the first third of the season (yes, it’s already one-third over). On offense, Boise State is not ranked in the top 60 in the country in any of the major categories. The Broncos’ best number is 63rd in passing offense at 234 yards per game, as they had to throw it a lot in September. The worst number won’t surprise anybody. Boise State is 104th in the country in rushing offense, gaining only 117 yards per game. Add it up, and total offense averages 351 yards, an even 100th. The Broncos are 68th in scoring at 29.8 points per game. Interesting to note the Broncos have topped 30 only once (at Washington State).
Defensively, despite the Virginia game transgressions and the numbers at Washington State that were bloated by three overtimes, Boise State’s stats aren’t terrible. The Broncos are 30th in the country in rushing defense at 116 yards allowed per game and 44th in total defense at 347 per. They faced some good quarterbacks—let’s include Troy’s Brandon Silvers in there—and are giving up 231 passing yards per game, 68th in the country. Boise State is allowing 29.0 points per game, ranked a dismaying 86th in the nation. But that has to be dissected, as the Bronco offense has yielded three touchdowns this season, two via interception and one on a fumble.
Now it’s on to BYU week, and the Cougars are licking their wounds after absorbing a 40-24 defeat at Utah State Friday night. BYU came into the game last in the nation in scoring at 9.8 points per game, and Utah State had laid 61 points on San Jose State the previous week. But the script didn’t play out that way (despite the result). The Cougars took a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter after two Beau Hoge touchdown passes. But Hoge threw a pick-six to USU’s Jalen Davis on his next throw—and after Hoge left with an injury, the turnover spigot really started flowing. BYU turned it over seven times, with Davis delivering another pick-six in the fourth quarter. The Cougars are 1-4 going into their date with Boise State in Provo this Friday night, and safe to say the Aggies will be laying in wait in Logan later this month.
There are two other stops we need to make on the Mountain West carousel today. One is San Diego State, which remains No. 19 in the AP Poll and No. 21 on the coaches’ list after a chippy 34-28 win over Northern Illinois Saturday night. Aztecs superstar Rashaad Penny, held to 107 yards by the Huskies, was the victim of an eye-gouging incident in the first quarter. It happened at the bottom of the pile and officials didn’t see it, so no penalty was called. Stop No. 2: Colorado State, which is looking like a contender for the Mountain West title after a 51-21 rout of Hawaii at Aloha Stadium. Check this out—this is a pretty efficient night. CSU quarterback Nick Stevens was 18-of-22 for 351 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a pass efficiency rating of 275.8.
Jay Ajayi may be the “face of the NFL in the U.K.,” but that didn’t buy him many yards yesterday in London. And it didn’t buy Miami any points. New Orleans blanked the Dolphins 20-0 at Wembley Stadium after cashing in on the game plan: shut down Ajayi. The former Boise State star carried the ball only 12 times for 48 yards. It was a whirlwind trip for Ajayi, but all that matters to him is the ending. “Regardless of anything else I did these past couple of days, this was the primary objective—get a win today,” he said. “We didn’t get that done.”
The process of replacing Nick Duncan begins in earnest as Boise State men’s basketball officially opens preseason practice today. On paper, the Broncos look like they may have done it—for a year, anyway. Christian Sengfelder would appear to be a banger on the block with his 6-9, 246-pound frame. But the graduate transfer from Fordham, like Duncan, does damage outside and joins the Broncos with 160 career three-pointers in tow. Sengfelder, who hails from Leverkusen, Germany, started all 93 games he played at Fordham, averaging 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Duncan, the popular four-year Aussie, had some ups and downs as a defender. It’ll be interesting to see how Sengfelder compares at that end of the floor.
Training camp opens today for the Idaho Steelheads as well. A player to watch in camp is rookie forward Alex Dahl, who brings family ties—and maybe some valuable chemistry—to the Steelies. Dahl is the younger brother of Steelheads captain Jefferson Dahl and comes to Boise after four strong seasons at St. Lawrence University, where he was a captain himself his junior and senior seasons. “Alex is very cerebral on the ice,” said Idaho coach Neil Graham, “and he takes a lot of pride and responsibility in his penalty killing and in key defensive situations.” All Steelies practice sessions during camp are open to the public.
It’s like she never left. Boise State star distance runner Allie Ostrander returned to cross country competition Saturday after nearly a two-year absence, and she promptly won the Greater Louisville Classic. Ostrander breezed to an eight-second margin of victory and led the Broncos to the team championship in the event. Elsewhere, the momentum created by Boise State’s 3-0 win over New Mexico Friday was blunted yesterday by San Diego State, as the Aztecs shut out the Broncos 2-0 at the Boas Soccer Complex. Boise State is now 2-2 in Mountain West play.
This Day In Sports…October 2, 1978:
One of the defining moments in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. The two teams finished the season tied for the American League East lead and went to a one-game playoff at Fenway Park. With Boston seemingly in control and dreaming of its first World Series championship in 60 years, Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give New York a 5-4 victory. The Yankees would go on to win their second consecutive World Series crown, and the Red Sox still had 26 more years to wait.
(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.)