Tuesday, January 10, 2012.
Take the Boise State Sugar Bowl snub out of it. Did you watch the BCS Championship Game last night? Were you at all interested? Well, although I didn’t care who won, I did not boycott. I was not entertained when it looked like a field goal fest was unfolding in the first quarter. But man, how could you not admire the way Alabama’s defense played in shutting out LSU, 21-0? The Tigers were held to 92 total yards and crossed the 50-yard line once. And Jim McElwain called a great game as offensive coordinator. Many didn’t think Alabama would dare throw, and the Crimson Tide put it up 34 times, and often on first down, bewildering LSU. Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease had to be impressed with the freedom coach Nick Saban gave his offensive staff. Has to be tempting. We’ll see what the next 24 hours brings.
Shortly after last night’s bludgeoning, the final polls were released, without much of a surprise: Boise State ended up No. 8 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the Coaches Poll, exactly where it finished the regular season. BSU was No. 7 in the final BCS Standings last month. The Broncos were jumped by Arkansas on the coaches’ list and remained behind Stanford in the AP rankings, but who’s sweating the small stuff? This is the eighth time Boise State has finished in the top 15 in the past 10 years, and its third straight top 10 finish (and fourth in the past six seasons).
Armen Keteyian of CBS did an in-depth story on BCS inequities that ran yesterday on CBS This Morning. And at the center of it were Boise State fans Tony and Anne Marie Thometz. CBS cameras followed the Thometzes to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas and aired their BCS grievances. And Keteyian got supporting material from Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy. “The great lie of the BCS universe is the slogan, ‘Every Game Counts,’” said Murphy. “Boise State goes 11-1 this year and ends up in a mediocre bowl. Tell the Broncos that every game counts.” Keteyian talked about the growing sentiment for the “plus-one” format (a four-team playoff that would add a national championship game between the winners). Then everybody could argue over how No. 5 got shafted. It’ll never end.
Matt Miller’s record-breaking season has evolved into first-team Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America. The Boise State wide receiver was honored after eclipsing Austin Pettis’ Bronco freshman standards with 62 catches and nine touchdowns—and Titus Young’s freshman record with 679 receiving yards. Miller, the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Montana, has proven to be a Kellen Moore-type wide receiver with his instinct, preparation, football smarts and humility. But hey, Miller can run.
Boise State now has as many players in the 2012 Senior Bowl, five, as it previously had combined in school history. Shea McClellin, who had been sitting on an East-West Shrine Game invite while hoping for a spot in the Senior Bowl, is now a go for the January 29 game. McClellin will join Kellen Moore, Billy Winn, George Iloka and Doug Martin in Mobile, AL. The former Marsing Husky is intriguing to NFL scouts. McClellin starred at defensive end for the Broncos, but he has the speed to be an outside linebacker on Sundays (and he got a lot of situational experience at that spot for Boise State).
San Francisco’s offensive line has played no small part in the 49ers’ surge to the NFL Playoffs for the first time in nine years, and former Idaho star Mike Iupati is getting as much credit as anyone else. Iupati has been called for holding only twice all season, with both penalties coming against St. Louis December 4, and he’s been a great downfield blocker for Frank Gore. Iupati was the Niners’ first round draft pick in 2010—now he finds himself as a first alternate for next month’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu. First things first: Big Mike and San Francisco try to get past the New Orleans Saints this Saturday for a spot in the NFC Championship Game.
It’s a good thing Boise State is playing its first-ever Mountain West basketball game at home this Saturday, because the Broncos just haven’t been functioning well on the road. In Taco Bell Arena, Boise State has averaged 85½ points per game (helped by those two 100-point games in November). On the road, the Broncos are scoring just 60 points per game. Shooting percentage provides evidence as well, as BSU is hitting 51 percent at home and 39 percent on opponents’ floors. Air Force comes in at 9-4 but, like Boise State, is still looking for its first road win of the season as well—the Falcons are 0-2.
The Idaho Stampede absorbed a tough one yesterday to open the annual NBA D-League Showcase in Reno. A driving layup at the buzzer by the Stampede’s Armon Johnson wouldn’t fall, and the Erie BayHawks survived, 103-101. Johnson, playing in the city where he starred in college for Nevada, led the Stampede with 19 points. Former Wolf Pack teammate Luke Babbitt added 15 for Idaho. The Stampede didn’t suit up newcomer Mikki Moore, a graybeard by D-League standards. Moore, a 12-year NBA veteran who turned 36 in November, was signed by the Stampede over the weekend. The 6-11 center led the NBA in shooting percentage with the New Jersey Nets five years ago. The addition of Moore and four NBA assignees in the past week necessitated the release due to injury of former Boise State star Reggie Larry and veteran guard David Bailey.
Idaho Steelheads goalie Jerry Kuhn might be able to take regular breaths now, as fellow netminder Jimmy Spratt has been returned to the team for the Texas Stars of the AHL. Spratt has been gone since late November, and Kuhn has essentially gone it alone while racking up an ECHL-leading 898 saves for the season. Spratt was 5-5 with a .920 save percentage with the Steelies before he left. Idaho also got forward Ian Lowe back from Texas. Lowe may be able to help provide some of the scoring punch the Steelheads lost when rookie standout Chad Klassen went to Austria. Lowe, who’s also a rookie, has scored 19 points in 30 games for the Steelies this season.
This Day In Sports…January 10, 1982, 30 years ago today:
In the Bay Area, it is still known as “The Catch”—Dwight Clark’s fingertip grab of a Joe Montana pass with 51 seconds left in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. It gave San Francisco a 28-27 win over Dallas and symbolized the beginning of a 17-season run of excellence for the 49ers, a period in which they won five Super Bowls (the first one coming two weeks later over Cincinnati).
(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.)