Thursday, December 20, 2012.
The reality of Chris Petersen’s 83-8 career record at Boise State hits home when you consider this. In the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Saturday, the Broncos will be trying to avenge the worst loss in the Coach Pete era in terms of margin of defeat. That was 14 points—the 24-10 loss in Seattle in 2007. Only one other time has Boise State lost by double digits in the past seven seasons (39-27 at Hawaii in the 2007 regular season finale). The loss to the Huskies was in the second game after the Fiesta Bowl, but with a lot of new cast members on offense. The Broncos didn’t know how good they were, while Washington was confident with emerging freshman quarterback Jake Locker. That trait faded as the Huskies promptly embarked on a six-game losing streak and went on to a 4-9 season.
Washington is still smarting from last year’s bowl game. You remember that one. Robert Griffin III, with his Heisman Trophy safely on the shelf, riddled the Husky defense in a 67-56 track meet in the Alamo Bowl, the highest-scoring regulation game in bowl game history. UW allowed a staggering 777 yards, leading to the firing of defensive coordinator Nick Holt, the one-time Idaho coach. That’s where Justin Wilcox comes in. The Huskies’ new D-coordinator, who,of course, held the same job at Boise State for four years, is looking forward to separating his unit from the one that embarrassed itself in San Antonio.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times has been analyzing what makes this 14-year Boise State run tick, and he got this from ESPN’s Brent Musberger, who will call the game Saturday with Kirk Herbstreit. “First of all, recruiting,” said Musberger. “They targeted areas in California where they could go in and get talent that for whatever reason wanted to leave the state and their circumstances and come to Idaho, which is a wonderful, wonderful environment for kids who want to break away and come play football, I put that as number one on the list. And that stems from the head coaches they have had through the years have all been very good, and Chris Petersen is one of the elite coaches in the country and the fact that he has turned down job after job speaks a lot and I think that the youngsters understand that.”
There’ll be a roundabout family reunion on the turf of Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday. Washington wide receiver Cody Bruns grew up with Kellen and Kirby Moore, playing for the Moores’ dad, Tom, at Prosser High. Bruns tells Condotta he felt like he was "the middle brother." He even joined the Moore family on a vacation in junior high. Bruns caught a Washington state record 310 career passes at Prosser, mostly from Kellen. Kirby set the national high school record with 95 touchdown catches in his career. While Kellen’s at work with the Detroit Lions, Cody and Kirby will be watching each other at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Cody is most visible as the Huskies’ lead punt returner. Kirby has 36 receptions this season for 368 yards and a touchdown for Boise State.
The second of this season’s five Mountain West bowl teams takes the field tonight—it’s San Diego State, and it’s the Poinsettia Bowl on the Aztecs’ home field. They’ll be taking on BYU after sharing the conference title with Boise State and Fresno State. SDSU has won seven straight and is looking for its first 10-win season in 35 years. As an independent, the Cougars don’t have a conference championship to win, so they’re putting some extra stock in this game.
Around the horn in college football. The next Big East adventure involves Fresno State and UNLV. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.com reports that the conference has reached out to the two Mountain West members in the wake of the announcement by the Big East’s seven Catholic basketball schools that they’re bolting. The Big East appears to be trying to establish a true Western footprint in order to save Boise State’s and San Diego State’s memberships. Dodd also reports there have been discussions with BYU. But the Cougars have a pretty stout independent schedule in place, with TV money to boot. What’s in it for them? Elsewhere, Utah State’s Gary Andersen is set to take the Wisconsin job, but he contacted every one of his players to let them know. That’s 106 phone calls. The marathon wrapped up at 2:30 in the morning yesterday.
Boise State and Idaho face off in basketball for the 86th time tonight, with the Broncos leading the series, 51-35. CenturyLink Arena will be rockin’. BSU has won four of the past five against UI, but the only loss was a decisive one—79-55 in 2010 before 7700 fans in Taco Bell Arena, a key factor in coach Greg Graham’s firing at the end of that season. The Broncos reeled off 14 straight victories in the rivalry from 2001-08 before Idaho swept the season series four seasons ago. Boise State has taken all nine meetings against the Vandals as non-conference opponents.
Idaho is 4-5 on the season, coming off a 91-47 walloping of Walla Walla last Saturday with the usual suspects leading the way. Senior Kyle Barone was perfect from the field while topping the Vandals with 15 points, and junior Stephen Madison added 14. Both players were pulled early in the blowout. Madison and Barone had strong outings against Boise State last December, posting 16 and 11 points, respectively. Madison collected eight rebounds and Barone seven. As Madison goes, so goes Idaho so far this season. In the Vandals’ four wins, he’s averaged 20.8 points while shooting almost 52 percent. In UI’s five losses, Madison has scored 12.8 per game and has shot under 40 percent.
One aspect of Boise State’s surprising start that has gone unnoticed by many is the game-planning ability of Leon Rice’s coaching staff. That especially came to light in the Broncos’ two signature wins this season over Creighton and LSU. Boise State took what the opponent did best and stifled it. The Broncos made their mark on the boards, for one thing. It’ll be important to replicate that tonight, as the glass is Idaho’s strength. The Vandals are tied for 19th in the nation in rebounding margin, out-muscling their opponents by 8.4 rebounds per game. On defense, who’s going to be the “hands” team tonight? Current statistics would favor Boise State, which averages 8.3 steals a game. Idaho averages 4.4 steals.
Sean Evans has been a steady performer through the early part of the campaign for the Idaho Stampede. Last night Evans was monstrous, pouring in 34 points and pulling down a D-League season-high 22 rebounds at Bakersfield. The only problem: the Stampede lost to the Jam, 120-104, to slip to 1-8. The Stamps shot slightly better from the field, just under 44 percent, but that’s not going to win you many games in the D-League. They were just 4-of-18 from beyond the arc. The Stampede take on Bakersfield again tonight.
Idaho goalie Josh Robinson suffered his first lost in regulation this season when Utah posted a 4-2 win over the Steelheads last night. The Grizzlies did their damage on only 19 shots in dropping Robinson to 11-1-2. At the other end, the Steelheads couldn’t cash in on their man-advantage opportunities, going 0-for-9 on the power play. Sam Carrick and Andrew Carroll each registered a goal and an assist for the Steelheads, who play their final home game of the calendar year Saturday night in CenturyLink Arena versus the Las Vegas Wranglers.
This Day In Sports…December 20, 1980:
Boise State wins the Division I-AA national championship with a 31-29 win over Eastern Kentucky at the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento. BSU led most of the way—until the Colonels connected on a bomb with 55 seconds remaining. Trailing by five points with 80 yards to go, Joe Aliotti led the Broncos on the winning drive. He hit Kipp Bedard three times to get BSU close. Then on fourth-and-10 from the 14-yard-line, Aliotti scrambled until he found tight end Duane Dlouhy in the corner of the end zone with 12 seconds left.
(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.)