Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
Bye weeks can really drag on—for players and for fans. Look at it this way. On August 21, we were just ramping up for the Boise State-Washington game, and we’re exactly the same amount of time away from Bronco football now as we were then. So how is everybody whiling away the time? Wondering what Kirby Moore’s injury is, and what Tyler Horn’s injury is, and how Aaron Burks, Gabe Linehan and Holden Huff are coming along, and how serious Rees Odhiambo’s injury is, and if Aaron Baltazar is injured at all. But outside of season-ending situations, the injury information faucet has been completely turned off at Boise State. Bye weeks are for healing. The Broncos’ fortunes halfway hang on how many make it back into the lineup a week from Saturday. We won’t know what the deal is ‘til the bell rings.
Hopefully the ordeal won’t be too painful. But since Lane Kiffin was fired by USC before September even ended, we may have to go through this Chris Petersen rumor mill thing for more than two months. Unless Petersen stops it, which he really has no reason to do right now. Dick Harmon of the Deseret News devoted a whole column to the effect a Petersen move to L.A. would have on football in the state of Utah. “Would Petersen leave Boise State?” Harmon asked himself. “Before this season, I’d have said, ‘No, Petersen is likely a lifer. He has a good gig and he’s king in the Banana Belt.’ But after the Broncos started the season getting spanked 38-6 by Washington and then losing 41-40 to Fresno State, a few vocal knucklehead Bronco fans wanted Petersen fired.” What? Harmon must have dug deep into some dark chatroom to find those guys.
Next up for Boise State is Utah State in Logan a week from Saturday. But the Broncos are the last thing on the Aggies’ minds right now. Once upon a time, who’d a thunk Utah State would be favored over BYU in a football game? That’s the scenario Friday night as USU hosts the Cougars in Logan as a six-point favorite. Oddsmakers like the Romney Stadium advantage—the Aggies have won nine straight home games, their longest home winning streak in 50 years. They also like Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton’s ever-maturing arm. Keeton is second in the nation currently with 17 touchdown passes. One of the digs from Utah fans is this game is to determine “the second best in the state,” since both USU and BYU have already lost to the Utes.
Could anyone have foreseen what has happened to the college football season in the state of Colorado? First the Fresno State-Colorado game was wiped out by the devastating floods in Boulder last month. It’s now official that the game will not be played—the schools could not find a mutually-available date. So the Buffaloes have plugged FCS power Charleston Southern into their bye week October 19. Now the despicable government shutdown could cost Air Force and Navy one of their most treasured events of the year. The game between the two academies set for Saturday is in imminent danger of being cancelled. Air Force says its upper-class cadets are considered military personnel, which means they are subject to travel restrictions under the shutdown. In fact, the academy indicates the Navy game has already been nixed.
Fresno State is favored by 26 points over Idaho Saturday in the Kibbie Dome. But if Hawaii can gash the Bulldog defense like it did last Saturday, why can’t the Vandals? The winless Warriors roared back from a 42-3 deficit to score 34 straight points and fell only by five at Aloha Stadium. Sean Schroeder, Hawaii’s starter at quarterback last year, came off the bench to go 17-of-27 for 321 yards, three touchdowns and one interception during the rally. Chad Chalich’s numbers were similarly solid in Idaho’s 26-24 win over Temple—26 of 43 for 310 yards for one TD and no interceptions. Incredibly, Chalich has gone the first 150 passing attempts of his college career without throwing a pick.
Taylor Kelly’s supposed fall from grace at Arizona State was very temporary. The Eagle High grad was back on course last Saturday after a tough night at Stanford the week before. Kelly torched the USC defense on 23-of-34 passing for 351 yards and three touchdowns in the Sun Devils’ 62-41 thumping of the Trojans, triggering USC’s firing of Kiffin. Kelly also rushed for 79 yards on just four carries. For the season, he has thrown for 1,370 yards with 11 TDs against four interceptions.
Up go the expectations for Boise State basketball. CollegeSportsMadness.com has named the Broncos’ Leon Rice, who led his squad to a 21-11 record and its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last season, as its Preseason Coach of the Year. The site also placed junior Anthony Drmic on its All-MWC first team. Drmic was the Mountain West’s second-leading scorer last season at 17.7 points per game. Boise State junior Derrick Marks was a second-team pick. CollegeSportsMadness.com’s Preseason Player of the Year was New Mexico’s Kendall Williams.
This may be the best news yet for the Idaho Steelheads. When training camp convenes Sunday, goalie Josh Robinson will be on board, having been reassigned by the AHL’s Texas Stars. Robinson was the Steelheads’ team MVP last season after ranking second in the ECHL in wins, save percentage and shutouts. His five shutouts already place him second all-time among Steelheads goaltenders in the ECHL era behind Steve Silverthorn, who had 10. “Josh really improved over the summer and made tremendous strides to help his cause at the next level,” said Steelheads coach Brad Ralph. Texas also sent netminder Pat Nagle to Boise.
There are eight former Steelheads on NHL Opening Night rosters, and only one of them is a member of the Steelheads’ parent club, the Dallas Stars. Dan Ellis, the 2004 Kelly Cup Finals MVP for Idaho, is set to share time in goal for the Stars. The other Steelies alums are Zenon Konopka (Minnesota Wild), Richard Clune (Nashville Predators), B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay Lightning), Jay Beagle and Steve Oleksy (Washington Capitals), Luke Gazdic (Edmonton Oilers), and Jeremy Blain (on injured reserve with the Vancouver Canucks). Gazdic made his NHL debut last night, scoring the first goal of the season for the Oilers in their 5-4 loss to Winnipeg. Blain is set to debut as well, as soon as he comes off IR.
Former Boise Hawk Josh Donaldson finished the regular season with a flourish, as he was named the final American League Player of the Month for 2013. Donaldson batted .337 for Oakland in September with eight doubles, five home runs and 16 RBI to claim the award for the first time. He’s also the first A’s player to win it since Eric Chavez in September, 2001. Donaldson posted 56 multi-hit games this season, the third-most in Oakland history behind Mark Kotsay and Miguel Tejada. Donaldson and the A’s open their AL Divisional Series against the Detroit Tigers Friday.
This Day In Sports…October 2, 1993, 20 years ago today:
Quarterback Tony Hilde burns his redshirt year and makes his first career start as a true freshman against Montana in Missoula. He threw the first of his then-BSU record 70 career touchdown passes—that one pulled in by Ryan Ikebe, who was burning his redshirt year that day as well. Hilde’s 388 passing yards and 406 in total offense in his collegiate debut would also be his career highs. He would rack up over 9,000 yards passing and over 10,000 in total offense over the next four years, and 26 of his TD passes would go to Ikebe.
(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.)