Friday, October 18, 2013.
The point spread in tomorrow’s Boise State-Nevada game is hard to fathom. It’s creeped up a point in the past 24 hours to 22½ points in favor of the Broncos. Wow. These are two teams that were six points apart last December in Reno (the 27-21 Boise State victory). The Wolf Pack has scored a combined 89 points the past two weeks, and quarterback Cody Fajardo has had the best two passing games of his career. Sure, the Pack defense has had its challenges. But if Nevada scores, say, 24 points, that means Boise State will score 47. If the Wolf Pack hits 30 points, the Broncos would have to put up 53. Maybe the Boise State defense is starting to get the benefit of the doubt. The Broncos’ average yield per game this season has finally fallen below the 400-yard mark (to 395).
Oddsmakers obviously don’t think this game is going to come down to a field goal. Two years ago, that would have suited Boise State kicker Dan Goodale just fine. This season the junior from Timberline High would relish the shot. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought Goodale had hit the magic number when he connected on his career-long 39-yard field goal at Utah State. That was the exact distance from which Goodale missed as the clock ran out against TCU on the blue turf in November of 2011. I’m waiting for him to pass the 40-yard mark. It would be the first time that’s happened for the Broncos since Kyle Brotzman booted a 50-yarder against Fresno State in 2010.
Here’s your checklist for the renewal of the Boise State-Nevada rivalry tomorrow. The Broncos are going for their 50th straight victory in the month of October, while Nevada just played its 1,000th game in program history September 21 against Hawaii. This is also the 40th meeting between the two schools dating back to 1971. But the new divisional setup in the Mountain West will upset the apple cart after next year. Boise State and Nevada don’t play each other in 2015 and 2016 (nor do the Broncos and Fresno State). So tomorrow night’s clash will mark the last scheduled home game against the Wolf Pack until at least 2017.
Look out—the Boise State-Nevada game is on CBS Sports Network, just like last week’s tilt at Utah State. That means you’d be just as well off going to the game tomorrow night, because you can’t see the plays develop live on CBSSN. Its live-action main camera shots are so unbelievably wide, it’s almost impossible to tell who’s doing what. It looks like you’re watching coaches’ film. Perhaps it’s just a function of who’s directing the telecast, but this has happened before on the network (I distinctly remember the UNLV game two years ago).
The longest-tenured Nevada assistant coach is one that has a strong tie to Boise State. Mike Bradeson coached under Chris Ault and was retained by Brian Polian as safeties coach. Bradeson, a former Bronco player, is in his fourth year this time around with the Wolf Pack and is in his 10th season overall at Nevada. Bradeson made the interception that sealed Boise State’s classic 14-9 win over Grambling in the 1980 Division I-AA Playoffs, leading to the national championship a week later. Which gets you to thinking. Remember the legendary Grambling Tigers of that era, coached by Eddie Robinson? How about the Tigers today? They’re 0-7, coach Doug Williams was fired last month, their players have refused to practice the past two days, and they essentially forced the reassignment of interim coach George Ragsdale.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson likes to stress rivalries when he talks about his conference. Boise State-Nevada is one thing, but the Border War is entirely another. Colorado State and Wyoming meet tomorrow for the 106th time in a series that began in 1899, competing for the Bronze Boot. Elsewhere in the Mountain West, UNLV is about to find out how far it has or hasn’t come. The Rebels travel tomorrow to Fresno State, which is coming off a bye week. And this might be the ideal place for Darrel Garretson to transition into his role as Utah State’s new starting quarterback. The Aggies play at New Mexico, a team they can probably scheme up. USU just has to be able to stop the run on defense, which is its strength.
The trickle-down effect from the new College Football Playoff system has allowed the Mountain West to finalize its bowl lineup through 2019. It includes the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which has now officially extended its agreement with the conference for seven years. Assuming it has enough bowl-eligible teams, the Mountain West is guaranteed six bowl bids each year—and sometimes seven. The first choice will still go to the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (still getting used to that). It’s the only game beyond this year that assures a matchup with a power conference school, in this case the Pac-12. Exception: in two years during the cycle, the MW will rotate a team into the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl to take on a Big Ten opponent, opening up the Las Vegas Bowl one year and the Hawai‘i Bowl in another.
This is not a surprise to Boise State. The Broncos’ December 10 opponent, Kentucky, is No. 1 in the preseason college basketball Coaches Poll. The Wildcats’ pack of fabulous freshmen includes McDonald's All Americans Dakari Johnson, twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Julius Randle and Marcus Lee. But look who’s on the “Also Receiving Votes” list. The Broncos garnered 11 points and are 10th in line to get into the Top 25. The only Mountain West team with more points is No. 20 New Mexico. UNLV received one vote.
Yes, Jeremy Yablonski is on the Idaho Steelheads Opening Night roster, albeit on the reserve list. Yablonski won’t play in tonight’s season opener at Utah, but he could be activated at any time. The 33-year-old forward played his first game for Idaho in 2001 and was part of the Steelheads’ 2007 Kelly Cup championship team. With Josh Robinson back in the AHL, Pat Nagle will be in goal tonight for the Steelies. Nagle is not a proven commodity yet, but the team is hoping the defensive prowess in front of him from Patrick Cullity, Hubert Labrie and Ryan Button will make the difference.
So much for Graham DeLaet’s momentum coming out of the President’s Cup—and the FedExCup Playoffs, for that matter. The former Boise State star has an uphill battle to make the cut in the inaugural event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. A double-bogey on the third hole dogged DeLaet all day yesterday, and he ended with a one-over 72 in the first round, tied for 98th. He’s 12 shots off the pace going into today’s second round.
Boise State tennis is on a roll so far at the 2013 USTA Mountain Region Championships in Las Vegas. Five Broncos, Andy Bettles, Thomas Tenreiro, Garrett Patton, Brendan McClain and Toby Mitchell, have advanced to the round of 16 in singles. No other team in the tournament has more than two. Four Boise State players have to play each other today—Tenreiro against McClain and Patton against Mitchell.
This Day In Sports…October 18, 1977:
One of the epic performances in World Series history, as Reggie Jackson hits three consecutive home runs, all on the first pitch, to lead the New York Yankees past the Los Angeles Dodgers, 8-4. The Game 6 victory gave the Yankees the world championship, their first in 15 years. It was on this night that Jackson, who had signed with the Yanks as a free agent in the offseason, earned the nickname “Mr. October.”
(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.)