You had the "do they deserve to be in the national championship discussion" thing, and the "Oklahoma beat Tulsa 45-0" thing. Those subjects bounced off each other. Was Boise State's 28-21 win over Tulsa enough?
Thursday, October 15, 2009.
You had the "do they deserve to be in the national championship discussion" thing, and the "Oklahoma beat Tulsa 45-0" thing. Those subjects bounced off each other last night. Was Boise State's not-as-close-as-it-sounds 28-21 win over Tulsa enough to keep the Broncos' detractors from hooting? The answer is clearly no. The nation's No. 5 team is supposed to beat the nation's No. 60 team (Sagarin Ratings) by a lot more than seven points, especially when that No. 5 team is forced to re-prove itself weekly. What Rece Davis and Lou Holtz said on ESPN--that Boise State can beat anybody in the country, but not two national powers two weeks in a row (plus the Oklahoma comparison)--fairly reflects the mood of poll voters across the country. It's just a good thing Mark May wasn't there.
So Bronco fans are left to appreciate it for what it was last night: a win that sends BSU to 6-0, going into an opponent's sold-out house and beating an extremely fired-up foe that considered this game its measure of validity. And what's wrong with that? Everyone who wants to gnash his or her teeth over the final score--and how 35-14 sure would have looked better than 28-21--has to consider how many of the nation's other 53 non-BCS schools wouldn't give anything to trade places with the Broncos. That might be every team except TCU, which so many pundits pick to pass Boise State in the rankings and get a BCS bowl berth (should both teams win out). The same TCU which continues to get a pass for its 20-17 win last Saturday at Air Force (63rd in the Sagarin Ratings).
"Turnovers'll kill ya every time." How old is that phrase? 30 years? 40 years? After a great start by the Boise State defense, a muffed punt by Kyle Wilson gave Tulsa new life. The Golden Hurricane answered on the first play with a 53-yard option pass from wide receiver A.J. Whitmore to the speedy Demaris Johnson. Thing is, the Broncos answered right back with a 68-yard drive, capped by a Kellen Moore TD pass to Tommy Gallarda and a swinging gate two-point conversion throw from Austin Pettis to Kyle Efaw (the first points of Efaw's college career). And when BSU coughed up another first half fumble, the Bronco defense answered with a three-and-out. What's killed BSU the past two weeks is not forcing turnovers itself--as in zero.
Fortunately for Boise State, save for the turnover-less night and three passing plays of 40-plus yards, the Bronco defense was on its game. The unit seemed a little too eager to make plays early in the game. But then it settled down, and the sack collection began. BSU came into the game with six sacks on the season--it got to G.J. Kinne for four sacks, two by Ryan Winterswyk. For all the angst the game provided, the Broncos still held the nation's leading offense the past two years to 295 yards and 12 first downs.
Let's look at what went into the win on offense. In the first half it was the usual precision passing by Moore, who threw three more touchdowns passes on the night to run his season total to 16. In the second half it was the punishing running of Doug Martin, who shook off any tentative traits left over from the UC Davis game and picked up where he left off against Bowling Green, rushing for 112 yards on 23 carries. Martin has been money, just like so many felt he would be coming on after the season-ending injury to D.J. Harper.
A sideline shot of Chris Petersen in the fourth quarter caught the coach with about as angry a look as he'll flash at his team during the game. I think he sensed some relaxation out there. It was moments later that the game almost blew up on Boise State. After a parade of three-and-outs forced by the BSU defense in the second half, Tulsa notched its initial post-halftime first down on a third-and-12 from its own nine-yard-line on a 36-yard pass from Kinne to Slick Shelley. On the next play, Kinne found Shelley for a 55-yard touchdown. That's how quickly it can happen--91 yards in two plays when the Hurricane offense had been given up for dead. Petersen can file that away for future reference.
As Idaho dreams of bowl eligibility, the only coach ever to lead the Vandals to a bowl game is returning to the Kibbie Dome Saturday. Chris Tormey is now the special teams coach with Hawaii, 10 years after leaving Moscow to take over the Nevada program. Tormey led Idaho to a 9-3 record in 1998, including a 42-35 victory over Southern Mississippi in the Humanitarian Bowl. He didn't pay a visit to the Dome during his four years as Wolf Pack coach, because Nevada was in the WAC and Idaho was in the Sun Belt. Tormey joined the Warriors this season after five years as an assistant at Washington.
Remember Bowling Green wide receiver Freddie Barnes? He was the nation's leading receiver when Boise State went back to Ohio three weeks ago. The Broncos, of course, held Barnes to a harmless four catches for 24 yards. Well, Barnes is still tops in the country. He has 75 receptions--a staggering 28 more than the next guy on the list, Jordan Shipley of Texas. Barnes set another school record last week, hauling in 22 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons' 36-35 win over Kent State. Bowling Green plays at Ball State Saturday.
The Idaho Steelheads' Opening Night roster is set, and there's a real-for-real Idahoan on it. Ketchum's Cody Lampl is one of six active defenseman. Lampl may have sealed his spot last Friday in Logan in an exhibition game against Utah. The Grizzlies had a 3-1 lead early in the third period when Lampl dropped the gloves with Utah's Mark Pavli. The tussle helped spark the Steelheads to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory. Coach Derek Laxdal also announced his captain--no surprise that it's veteran (and now player/coach) Marty Flichel. But the two alternate captains are both newcomers to the Steelies, forwards Ashton Rome and Tyler Spurgeon. The season begins tomorrow night in Qwest Arena versus the Stockton Thunder.
Two seasons removed from winning the WAC men's basketball championship, some prognosticators have Boise State picked toward the bottom of the conference for 2009-10. So that puts a big ol' spotlight on the Broncos' three junior college transfers as practice officially begins Friday. They've got to perform is BSU is to exceed expectations. All three are highly-touted: Daequon Montreal out of the College of Southern Idaho, Robert Arnold from Monroe College in New York, and Westly Perryman out of Antelope Valley College in California.
This Day In Sports...October 15, 1994, 15 years ago today:
Idaho State rallies in the final seconds to upset Boise State, 32-31, at Holt Arena in Pocatello. The Broncos had gone into the game 6-0, and it would be the only blemish on their magical 1994 season until falling to Youngstown State two months later in the Division I-AA national championship game.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also handles color commentary on KTVB's telecasts of Boise State football.)