Friday, September 29, 2017.
Boise State won’t be home again until Wyoming comes to the blue turf on October 21. We won’t know when that game kicks off until Monday, October 9, or so. But everybody’s bracing for one of those 8:15 p.m. things (that turns into 8:26). Lest you think that the networks are picking on the Broncos, consider Utah. At 4-0, the Utes have a national profile, ranked 19th in the Coaches Poll and 20th in AP. But it was announced this week Utah’s homecoming game against Stanford a week from tomorrow will kick off at 8:15 p.m. on Fox Sports 1, marking the fourth straight week the Utes will play at 8:00 or later. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott craves the exposure, embracing the hashtag “#Pac12AfterDark,” and fans in the conference pay the price (although the league now avoids late starts on the Pac-12 Network).
Virginia, like Boise State, is on a bye week and is probably enjoying its time off more than the Broncos. The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk listed the Cavaliers’ top 5 upsets of the new century yesterday, and the 42-23 win at Albertsons Stadium is in there. The capsule: “Few gave the Cavaliers—a team without a landmark victory in years—a chance on the Broncos’ famed blue turf. But Kurt Benkert, taking advantage of a running game that was finally starting to take hold, passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns, including a perfectly thrown, 64-yard bomb to Andre Levrone early in the third quarter. UVA fans watching on ESPN2 back East, no doubt incredulous at Boise State’s worst home loss since 2001, had something to celebrate again.”
Bye weeks are huge for recruiting, and the Boise State coaching staff will be populating high school football games tonight all over the West (and Texas, no doubt). The Broncos currently have 11 commitments for the 2018 recruiting class, all but one of them three-star prospects according to Scout.com. Boise State was hoping to set the table with this weekend’s trips via its ESPN2 appearance against a Power 5 opponent last Friday, but it didn’t work out so well. So coaches have to dig deeper into their power-of-persuasion bag, but they still have a great story to tell—hey, the stands looked great late in the first quarter a week ago when the 33,947 fans had finally taken their seats.
There was a time that Boise State’s football program wanted to emulate Nevada’s. Like, 25 years ago when the Wolf Pack moved up to Division I-A four years before the Broncos did. The past week hasn’t been much fun in Boise, but how about Reno? The Pack is 0-4, plays before small crowds in Mackay Stadium, and just had its much-ballyhooed transfer quarterback from Alabama, David Cornwell, leave the team. And Nevada made ESPN.com’s dreaded Bottom 10 this week. Tomorrow the Wolf Pack plays at Fresno State, a team that won just one game last season but is at least headed in the right direction. The Bulldogs are favored by 10 points.
Jay Ajayi goes “home” to London this weekend, as the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints get together in Wembley Stadium Sunday. ESPN.com calls Ajayi, who was born in London and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was seven years old, “the face of the NFL in the U.K.” This will be the former Boise State star’s first time playing in England—when the Dolphins played there two years ago, Ajayi was injured and watched the 27-14 loss to the New York Jets from the sidelines. “He has a running style that will be very appealing to the British sports fans, and we’re all very proud of what he has achieved in his short time in the NFL,” said Neil Reynolds, who anchors Sky Sports’ NFL coverage in the U.K. Ajayi is the first British-born player to make the NFL at a skill position.
This is not surprising, but it is indeed sad. Because of the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off November 16-19 has been moved to the campus of Coastal Carolina University. In addition to Boise State, the ESPN-arranged event will still include Appalachian State, Illinois State, Iowa State, South Carolina, Tulsa, UTEP and Western Michigan. And the Broncos’ slate remains the same—they’ll open against UTEP at noon on Thursday, November 16, on ESPNU. Boise State opens preseason practice on Monday.
The course took a beating yesterday as the Web.com Tour Championship got underway in Atlantic Beach, FL. All you need to know is that Sam Saunders was en fuego with a 12-under 59, but we will tell you that former Boise State star Troy Merritt, who has already secured his PGA Tour card for 2017-18, shot a three-under 68. Merritt’s in a group of 12 golfers in a tie for 52nd after the first round. Meanwhile, the 2018 Web.com Tour schedule has been announced, and the Albertsons Boise Open will be even more pressure-packed for players seeking their PGA Tour cards. The Boise stop has flip-flopped with the DAP Championship and will now be the third leg of the Web.com Tour Finals from September 13-16, one week before the championship tournament.
Boise State star runner Allie Ostrander finally returns to the cross country circuit tomorrow as the 14th-ranked Broncos debut at the Greater Louisville Classic (that’s sure an interesting place to be right now). Ostrander, who won the national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in June to put an exclamation point on the outdoor track season, hasn’t competed in a cross country race since November of 2015. “I’ve been on the track, but it’s just not the same as being on those trails and courses,” Ostrander told the Idaho Press-Tribune. “I’ve really missed that.” She won the Mountain West individual cross country title and finished second at the NCAA Championships as a true freshman in 2015.
This Day In Sports…September 29, 1990:
Boise State faces a coaching legend in a game at Long Beach State. At the age of 72, George Allen had come out of retirement to coach Long Beach—and would pass away later that year on New Year’s Eve. Allen gained fame as an NFL mastermind, winning 119 games with the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins, reaching Super Bowl VII with the latter. By the way, BSU dominated the game but lost to Long Beach State on the scoreboard, 21-20.
(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.)