Monday, December 24, 2012.
In hindsight, the Michigan State team Boise State saw in the season opener 16 weeks ago bore some resemblance to the Washington team that played Saturday in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. We just didn’t know it at the time. The Spartans were good, but ultimately they didn’t live up to their No. 13 ranking. They ended up 6-6 and face TCU this Saturday night in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The Huskies were good and were seeking to avoid a third straight 7-6 season. And off they went, with UW’s Bishop Sankey doing his best Le’Veon Bell impression as he racked up 205 yards on the ground. But the difference was Boise State’s offense and how far it has come from Game 1 to Game 13.
In beating Washington 28-26 Saturday, the Broncos went from 206 yards total offense in the opener to 407, from 169 yards passing to 298, and from zero offensive touchdowns to three. And it happened against a defensive coordinator very determined to stop them. The field general was Joe Southwick, whose execution was eons better than on that Labor Day weekend in East Lansing. Southwick threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, capping a very nice stretch run. In the final four games of the season, the junior quarterback completed 70 percent of his throws for 888 yards and had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 9-to-0.
The most deceiving stat of Saturday's game was Boise State's 7-of-19 ledger on third down conversions. Because all seven times the Broncos moved the chains, they kept scoring drives alive. Southwick twice converted third downs with runs, and he converted two fourth downs as well. One came after he had scrambled for 17 yards on third-and-18. D.J. Harper also notched two first downs on third down rushes, and Southwick converted three long third downs on throws, once to Chris Potter and twice to Matt Miller. The Broncos made good on four third downs during their initial touchdown drive in the first quarter.
Potter, in the final game of his career, had nine catches for 55 yards and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Holden Huff. Miller was at his steady best, making six receptions for 90 yards. But Potter and Miller were, well, just two-thirds of the story at wide receiver. Everyone inside and outside the Boise State program has been waiting for Geraldo Boldewijn to have the type of game he indicated was coming after a fantastic spring in 2011. It came Saturday with five receptions for 59 yards that included a 16-yard touchdown catch and a 13-yard grab that got the Broncos in field goal range for Michael Frisina’s winning kick. A nice table-setter for Boldewijn’s senior year.
One of the lasting memories of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, of course, will be how the winning points were scored. Every Boise State loss of the previous two seasons—all two of them—happened after field goals were missed on the final play of regulation (Nevada in 2010 and TCU in 2011). Frisina, who had connected on a career-high 34-yarder earlier in the game, calmly booted through a 27-yard field goal with 1:16 left. And, thanks to Jeremy Ioane’s interception with 14 seconds remaining, it stuck. Ironically, Frisina tied Kyle Brotzman’s Boise State postseason record for field goals in a game Saturday. Brotzman also kicked three in the Broncos’ 17-16 loss to TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl.
Boise State’s 2013 recruiting class now numbers 21, as Jake Roh of Chaparral High in Scottsdale, AZ, notified Bronco coaches of his commitment about the time they were headed for Sam Boyd Stadium according to Scout.com. Roh had a number of offers and ultimately chose Boise State over Iowa. He starred at wide receiver and linebacker at Chaparral High, but he told Scout.com the Broncos envision him as “an H-back.” As a senior, Roh had 72 catches for 805 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus 72 tackles, four sacks and four interceptions.
The conference chaos has gone from “Boise State may still go the Big East if BYU comes with it,” to “the Mountain West is trying to lure Boise State back again,” to “Boise State’s departure from the Big East is inevitable,” to “the Mountain West has restructured its TV contract with CBS Sports to give Boise State opportunities for more TV revenue,” to “Boise State is asking if the Big East or the Mountain West will allow it to retain the TV rights to its home games.” In his College Football Mailbag at SI.com, Stewart Mandel says he’s numb. Join the club. “Unfortunately, there is not an end in sight,” writes Mandel. “I expect movement, or at least the possibility of movement, to be a constant backdrop for the next several years.” Happy Holidays.
If you have time between present-wrapping and Christmas Eve services this evening, you can check out Fresno State and SMU in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Coach Tim DeRuyter's retooled Bulldog defense goes against an offense that used to call Aloha Stadium home. June Jones’ run-and-shoot moved to Dallas four years ago and is now being operated by the Mustangs. Fresno State’s offense has been a better story this season, though, behind junior quarterback Derek Carr. And that presents an interesting dynamic, as former Bulldog assistant (and one-time Boise State defensive coordinator) Tom Mason is currently the D-coordinator at SMU.
For awhile yesterday, it looked like the Boise State men’s basketball team had grown weary of special events. The Broncos had thumped LSU before 11,210 fans at Taco Bell Arena the week before and had rallied past Idaho in the neutral court extravaganza at CenturyLink Arena last Thursday. Yesterday it was the day-after-the-MAACO-Bowl matinee at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas against New Orleans, part of the Vegas Holiday Hoops event. The Broncos exploded to a 24-point lead in the first half before lethargy set in, and the Privateers got the margin down to 10 early in the second half. But Boise State fended off New Orleans, 67-51, with Anthony Drmic bouncing back from the flu to score 20 points with eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks. The Broncos have Christmas week off before returning to action at home this Sunday against Corban.
Are you ready for a broken record? The Idaho Stampede shot under 40 percent Saturday night against the L.A. D-Fenders in suburban El Segundo. And they lost again, 98-94, to plunge to 1-10 on the season. This time, though, the Stampede led for a good chunk of the first half and out-rebounded L.A. by 17. The Stamps were up on the D-Fenders by 15 points in the second quarter and by 12 at the break before L.A. dominated the second half. Durrell Summers scored 22 points and added seven rebounds and two steals for the Stampede, who are now 0-7 on the road. They return home to CenturyLink Arena Wednesday night versus the Maine Red Claws.
The aura of last week’s festive Boise State-Idaho basketball game stuck with CenturyLink Arena through the weekend, as a sellout crowd of 5,284 fans turned out for the Idaho Steelheads Saturday night. It was a battle of two stingy goaltenders, but Las Vegas netminder Joe Fallon got the best of it, stopping the Steelheads 2-1 in a shootout. Fallon made 23 saves during regulation and overtime and rejected all five Idaho attempts in the shootout. That offset a solid night from the Steelies’ Tyler Berskorowany, who stopped 29 Wranglers shots on the night. The Steelheads are off until this Saturday night when they hit the road again at Bakersfield.
This Day In Sports…December 24, 1987, 25 years ago today:
A cerebral hemorrhage ends the writing career of respected Idaho Statesman sports columnist Jim Poore. The talented teddy bear of a guy would last over two years before passing away, but on Christmas Eve he was taken away from the newspaper (and our eyes) forever. Poore’s humor and lifelong community perspective were unmatched in Boise sportswriting. You can only imagine what a field day he’d have had with Bronco football the past 14 seasons. And with the evolution of Boise’s sports scene. There’ll never be another like him.
(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.)