Monday, November 26, 2012.
Boise State is the second highest-ranked non-AQ team in the new BCS Standings. But the Broncos, who are No. 20, are the third-most likely to see things fall into place for a berth in a BCS bowl. The problem is obvious. No. 17 Kent State and No. 21 Northern Illinois play each other this Friday in the MAC Championship Game, and whoever wins will have a victory over a ranked team. That will be huge in the computers. If Kent State prevails, it has a great shot of busting the BCS. If Northern Illinois is victorious, the Huskies are still a long-shot, but they would jump Boise State regardless of what happens this Saturday at Nevada. The weakness at the bottom of the Mountain West this season has hammered the Broncos in the computers, and they don’t have a signature win. There’s not a lot they can do about it now.
Both Boise State and Nevada are coming off bye weeks, allowing each team to hit the reset button. The Broncos look like they could be hitting their stride after routs of Hawaii and Colorado State (the Warriors’ and Rams’ residence at the bottom of the Mountain West notwithstanding). The Wolf Pack is evaluating the good and the bad from a 31-24 win at New Mexico that snapped a three-game losing streak. Nevada did beat the Lobos by more than Boise State did, though. The Pack, incidentally, has accepted a bid to the New Mexico Bowl, leaving Las Vegas as the Broncos’ likely postseason destination (barring a meltdown in Reno and a temptation by the MAACO folks to go after Fresno State’s rejuvenated Red Wave fan base).
Boise State fans’ willingness this year to make the trip to Nevada is a subject for another day this week, but convenience is a subject for today. The Bronco-Wolf Pack kickoff time was finally announced over the weekend, and it’s 1:30 Mountain (12:30 Pacific). The feeling that the start time would be pushed back to 8:30 Mountain had some Boise State faithful considering a drive down the day of the game, but that won’t be possible now unless you leave at 5:30 a.m. or so. Reno hotels have been steadily advertising specials in the Boise market—now they’re thinking they can get one more night out of the rivalry game for those traveling on Friday.
The Sporting News brings up an interesting and disturbing concept. Could the seven Catholic basketball schools in the Big East vote to dissolve the conference, as uncertain as its future is? SN points out that according to Big East bylaws, the league can be dissolved with a two-thirds majority vote, and dissolution is the only way for each school to avoid the $10 million-$20 million exit fees. Only four football schools remain with voting rights: Louisville, Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida. If either Louisville or UConn bolt for the ACC, the basketball schools would have a two-thirds majority until the influx of Boise State and five other schools in July. DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova could dissolve the Big East and form their own conference—if they wanted to.
Boise State has spirited away one of Hawaii’s top prospects, getting a verbal commitment from defensive tackle Kamalei Correa of St. Louis School in Honolulu. Correa is a three-star recruit, although the “star” system used by scouting services to evaluate prospects is much-vilified. But I’ll just throw this out there: 13 of the Broncos’ 15 commits for the 2013 recruiting class have three-star ratings from Scout.com. That’s way above normal.
Fresno State and San Diego State each have a piece of the Mountain West title after the Bulldogs’ 48-15 thrashing of Air Force and the Aztecs’ 42-28 victory at Wyoming. Boise State, of course, will try to join them this week. Prospects of Fresno State’s first conference title since 1999 finally got fans’ attention, as 36,240 of them turned out at Bulldog Stadium Saturday. The SDSU game at Laramie was in doubt as the Cowboys took a 28-21 lead into the locker room at halftime. But the Aztecs pitched a second-half shutout to earn their first trophy since 1998.
Idaho’s 45-9 loss to Utah State Saturday was a sidebar to the celebration at Romney Stadium. The Aggies won the WAC championship outright, their first such league title since 1936. And USU logged its first 10-win season ever. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl was fortunate enough to land the Aggies, who accepted an invitation after the game and should travel far more fans to Boise than last year (and it wasn’t bad last year). Utah State will be the first outright conference champion to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl since Boise State in 2002 (the Broncos were WAC co-champion in 2005). The Aggies will also be the first Top 25 team to play in the bowl since No. 19 Boston College in that 2005 game. As for the Vandals, the search for a new head coach can now get down to brass tacks after the agony of a 1-11 season.
It took a little over half of his first NFL season for Doug Martin to land a feature story in Sports Illustrated. It’s headlimed “Hamster, Daaamn!” and chronicles the former Boise State star’s lukewarm start to his rookie year, his midseason explosion, and, naturally, the Muscle Hamster story. SI’s Jim Trotter calls Martin “a 5’9”, 215-pound kaleidoscope of quickness and power.” Trotter did magnify one accomplishment that hasn’t been widely publicized. When Martin amassed 486 yards of total offense in back-to-back games several weeks ago, he did something that has been topped only four times in NFL history—twice by Walter Payton and once by Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson. Now, was Martin jinxed yesterday? He was held to just 50 yards on 21 carries, although he did score two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 24-23 loss at Atlanta.
This season, UC Santa Barbara was one of those middling non-conference opponents for Boise State, visiting for a Thanksgiving weekend matinee. Next season, the Gauchos will be a feature performer during the Big West season (they tied for second last season and won 20 games). Just a reminder to fully enjoy the Broncos’ final winter of Mountain West basketball. Boise State ripped UCSB Saturday afternoon 72-56 in a game that wasn’t that close. Anthony Drmic scored 16 points while taking just six shots, and Jeff Elorriaga added 15, all on three-pointers, as the Broncos built a lead of 28 points at one stage and upped their record to 4-1. Boise State now takes on a challenge steeper than last Tuesday’s trip to Michigan State as it visits No. 14 Creighton Wednesday night.
Jumping out in front was the rule of the weekend for the Idaho Steelheads and Las Vegas Wranglers. Each team did it to the other to trigger victories. Friday night the Steelheads blasted out to a 5-0 lead after two periods and cruised to a 6-3 win, getting two goals apiece from Sam Carrick and Austin Smith. Saturday night the Wranglers were up 2-0 after the second period. The Steelies came back to tie, but a fluke loose puck goal with 3:16 left gave Las Vegas a 3-2 victory. The Wranglers entered the weekend having allowed just one power play goal on the road all season, and the Steelheads found out why, going scoreless on six man-advantage opportunities in the two games. Idaho stays home this week to host the Colorado Eagles at CenturyLink Arena on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Two other Boise pro sports notes from Thanksgiving weekend. The Idaho Stampede have finalized their 10-man roster for Wednesday night’s season opener at Los Angeles. Two former Boise State Broncos and Stampede veterans stuck: Coby Karl and Jason Ellis. And the Boise Hawks 2013 schedule will have a new structure, as the Northwest League will feature North and South Divisions with the Yakima Bears moving to Hillsboro, OR, and becoming the Hops (as in beer). The Hawks’ new division foes will be Hillsboro, Salem-Keizer and Eugene. The North Division will include Everett, Spokane, Tri-City and Vancouver.
This Day In Sports…November 26, 2005:
On one of the more wacky days in the WAC, Boise State begins the afternoon in second place and finishes its regular season with a 30-13 win at Louisiana Tech. Then, while the Broncos were in the air on the charter flight home, Nevada stunned conference leader Fresno State 38-35, giving BSU a share of the WAC championship—its fourth straight crown. Fresno had appeared to be on a beeline for an outright title after breaking the Broncos’ 31-game conference winning streak with a 27-7 victory two weeks earlier, but the Bulldogs lost their final four games of the season following that victory.
(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.)