Monday, November 14, 2016.
Defense against the run is a subject for later this week at Boise State. Overall defense is a subject for now, and it was good in the 52-16 win at Hawaii Saturday evening. The numbers of Rainbow Warriors’ quarterback Dru Brown will boil it down nicely for you, just as those of the Broncos' Brett Rypien will on offense. First of all, the Boise State defense was stellar against the pass in Aloha Stadium. Brown was 16-of-31 passing and netted just 125 yards—only four yards per attempt. His all-important pass efficiency rating, a coach’s favorite stat, was just 96.1. Sure, the Warriors totaled 359 yards of offense, but they had just 217 before the Broncos’ second-team defense came on in the fourth quarter.
Boise State finally topped the 50-point mark for the first time this season—and for the first time since the 55-7 Poinsettia Bowl win over Northern Illinois last December. The offense Saturday looked very much like that game, rolling up a season-high 603 yards. Jeremy McNichols’ standard big night took the pressure off Rypien, and vice-versa. Rypien had the most efficiect game of his career. His completion percentage was 81.8 percent, and he threw for 338 yards—better than 15 yards per attempt. Rypien tossed for four touchdowns against no interceptions, and his efficiency rating was huge, at 270.9. He's now up to seventh in the country in pass efficiency for the season with a rating of 167.9.
What a perfect Senior Night setup by Thomas Sperbeck. With six catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns at Hawaii, Sperbeck has gone over 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight season. He’s only the second Boise State player in history to clock two 1,000-yard campaigns after shattering the school record last year. Sperbeck joins Titus Young, who did it in 2009 and 2010. Sperbeck also now has 14 100-yard games in his career, breaking the 20-year-old record set by Ryan Ikebe. He had just two catches for 19 yards against San Jose State. Was that an aberration, or what? And did you know? Sperbeck has caught a pass in 33 consecutive games. Meanwhile, Cedrick Wilson was no slouch Saturday, making seven grabs for 141 yards and a TD.
Boise State got a little nudge in the polls yesterday, moving up to No. 22 in AP and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll. And San Diego State is finally getting its due, re-entering AP at No. 24 and getting back in the Coaches Poll at No. 25. The Aztecs destroyed Nevada 46-16 in Mackay Stadium Saturday night, rushing for a school-record 474 yards. One back ran for 208 yards, and it wasn’t Donnel Pumphrey. Rashaad Penny did it, but Pumphrey had 198 himself and went over the 6,000-yard mark for his career. One sportsbook said Nevada was largest home underdog since 2004, as SDSU was favored by 23½ points. No matter.
The most relevant Mountain West game for the Broncos, of course, was Wyoming’s amazing 69-66 triple-overtime loss at UNLV Saturday. That’s part of the formula that could get Boise State back into the Mountain West championship game driver’s seat. The Cowboys have to lose one more game (and the Broncos have to win out) to set up a BSU-San Diego State showdown on December 3. Wyoming has the pleasure of hosting San Diego State this Saturday.
Idaho’s been waiting for a long time—seven years, through those four straight seasons with double-digit losses and all those defensive liabilities—to reach bowl eligibility again. The Vandals did it emphatically Saturday with a 47-14 road rout of Texas State. Idaho’s defense has turned the corner in a stunning way. The Vandals set a school record by holding the Bobcats to minus-18 yards on the ground. Quarterback Matt Linehan has hit his stride, throwing for 336 yards and a touchdown as Idaho amassed 490 yards of total offense in San Marcos. Former Coeur d’Alene Viking Deon Watson was the favorite target, with five catches for 116 yards. Linehan now leads the Sun Belt with 2,446 passing yards. Idaho now enjoys a well-deserved bye week.
The College of Idaho running game flipped back to the running backs Saturday as the Coyotes wrapped up the 2016 campaign with a dominant 31-13 win at Montana State-Northern. The Yotes’ leading rushers for the season are their two quarterbacks, but Zach Garsoli represented the running back stable with a career-high 163 yards and a touchdown. Colby Brown and Kellen Copeland also ran for TDs—those were the first three scores by C of I running backs this season. Eagle’s Marcus Lenhardt had the ultimate send-off to this season, becoming the Yotes’ first single-season 1,000-yard receiver ever. The junior tight end had 11 receptions for 148 yards to finish with 1,021, surpassing the legendary R.C. Owens’ single-season receiving yard mark of 905 yards.
The Boise State men’s basketball season opened with an 85-46 romp over Northwest University Saturday in Taco Bell Arena. The matchup against the NAIA foe favored Justinian Jessup early. The Bronco true freshman and 2015 Colorado 4A Player of the Year made his first collegiate start and responded by scoring nine of his 10 points in the first eight minutes of the game. Jessup was 3-of-5 from three-point range. It’ll be interesting to see how Jessup plays when things get serious for the 6-6 guard this Thursday against host College of Charleston at the Gildan Charleston Classic. Also in Saturday’s game, Borah High grad Ben Tucakovic did what he could for Northwest, which shot just 28 percent. Tucakovic led the Beacons with 12 points and five rebounds.
The Bronco women opened their season with an 89-45 rout of Southern Oregon yesterday in Taco Bell Arena. Shalen Shaw kicked off her junior year with a big day—17 points and nine rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the floor. Coach Gordy Presnell was able to empty his bench, with 11 of the 12 Broncos who played logging 10 minutes or more. Boise State hosts Portland State on Wednesday.
The Adirondack Thunder were 6-0 on the road and looking like they’d make it seven straight Friday night, taking a 2-0 lead over the Idaho Steelheads into the third period in CenturyLink Arena. But the Steelheads roared back with three goals in less than 10 minutes to get back in the game—then won it 4-3 in a shootout. Saturday night the Steelies handed Adirondack their first road loss in regulation this season, rallying again for a 4-2 victory. Special teams were a key as Idaho took two of three from the Thunder. The Steelheads netted five power play goals in the series versus an Adirondack penalty kill that was ranked third in the league at the start of the week. The Steelies now hit the road for a long road trip to Norfolk, with a three-game set beginning Wednesday night.
Campus notes: The Boise State women’s volleyball team continues to roll, winning its 11th straight match Saturday by sweeping San Jose State in Bronco Gym. The Broncos are 22-6 overall and 13-2 in the Mountain West and are tied for first-place with Colorado State, who comes to town Wednesday. And the Boise State men’s cross country team is headed for the NCAA Championships for the second straight year, earning an at-large berth as a team after finishing seventh at the NCAA West Regional in Sacramento Friday. The Bronco women missed out on a third consecutive trip to nationals, but sophomore Brenna Peloquin will be going as an individual thanks to her third-place result at regionals. The national meet unfolds this Saturday in Terre Haute, IN.
This Day In Sports…November 14, 1964:
Rookie Gus Johnson, who played his college ball at Boise Junior College and the University of Idaho, cements his status as a rising NBA star with 41 points in the Baltimore Bullets’ 127-115 win over the L.A. Lakers. After being drafted 10th overall by the Bullets in 1963, Johnson spent 10 seasons in the NBA and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Johnson still holds the Vandals’ single-season rebound record with an average of 20 per game in 1962-63.
(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.)