Friday, Sep 3 at 9:42 AM
Friday, September 3, 2010.
There are some naysayers out there as Boise State threatens a run to the national championship game this season. People never thought it would get this far, but now that it has, the poo-poo crowd is coming out of the woodwork. One of the things they like to point to is the Georgia game five years ago today, the 48-13 annihilation in Athens. That one has an easy answer. You can start with Jared Zabransky’s meltdown that included four interceptions and two fumbles lost—in the first half. Does anyone think the same thing would happen to Kellen Moore? The Boise State program is an entirely different animal than the one that suffered through that fateful day in 2005.
Could karma envelop the Broncos this year? This season not only marks the 30th anniversary of Boise State’s Division I-AA championship campaign, Monday night’s game is also being played 30 years to the day after the upset that started it all in 1980. That was the night the upstart Broncos traveled to Salt Lake City to face the biggest opponent yet in their 12-year history as a four-year school.
Utah had high expectations under coach Wayne Howard, but Boise State dominated wire-to-wire in a 28-7 shocker. I remember being in the press box before the game and hearing a roar—and thinking the Utes must be running out on the field. Instead, it was the Broncos, with thousands ringing the first few rows all the way around the stands, waving orange bandanas. It was the first non-Reno show of force on the road by Bronco Nation. A mini-version of the representation in Washington on Monday. Oh—and here’s a 42-year perspective: Boise State is 354-143-2 since 1968. The Virginia Tech game will be the Broncos’ 500th since becoming a four-year school.
BYU pre-empted a lot of local football news this week. This nugget was released Tuesday: SI.com named Kellen Moore as its preseason first-team All-America quarterback. It will, of course, be water off a duck’s back for Moore—maybe now more than ever. Because Moore could be even more cerebral this year. Boise State’s WAC Offensive Player of the Year got one credit taking a class in meditation this summer. Moore said he just wanted to see what it was like. “I sat in the back—nobody in the class knew who I was,” said Kellen. So if you see him break the huddle and come up to the line with index fingers and thumbs pressed together, facing skyward with his eyes closed, you’ll know why.
By all accounts, Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor will give Boise State a lot more trouble Monday night than Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick and Oregon’s Jeremiah Masoli did last year. But the Broncos’ experience in taming Kaepernick and Masoli will come in handy. It’ll come down to how good Taylor is through the air. When the fifth-year quarterback goes off in the passing game, he goes big. Taylor led the nation in yards per pass attempt last year at 9.5. That’s yards per attempt, not completion. But if the Bronco defense can force Taylor to look long when he’d rather not, some good things might happen. Boise State has been pretty adept at game-planning for running quarterbacks the past two seasons.
If you watch highlights of Boise State’s 19-8 season-opening win over Oregon one year ago tonight, you’ll be struck by the swagger with which the Broncos played. They parlayed that into a physical defensive effort that baffled the Ducks, one they were able to repeat in the Fiesta Bowl against TCU. This program is at the “been there/done that” point going into a situation like the one it will face against Virginia Tech.
It was the first time Idaho had opened a season at the Kibbie Dome since 1998, and it went swimmingly well for the Vandals last night. They drilled out-manned North Dakota, 45-0, picking up their first shutout in 13 years. Nathan Enderle’s senior year began impressively—he was 24-of-37 for 311 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Enderle’s TDs covered 44 yards to Justin Veltung and two yards to Eric Greenwood. But the offensive play of the night was a 54-yard scoring strike from backup Brian Reader to new impact receiver Armauni Johnson. The Vandal defense got what it wanted out of the opener, holding the Fighting Sioux to 270 yards and collecting five turnovers.
Elsewhere in the WAC last night, USC jumped on Hawaii early, but had to hold off the Warriors in a 49-36 win at Aloha Stadium. The problem was not Hawaii’s offense, but its defense, as Matt Barkley threw five touchdown passes. And Nevada cruised past Eastern Washington at Mackay Stadium, 49-24, as the Wolf Pack crossed ‘em up. Get this: Colin Kaepernick was 26-of-37 for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick added a modest (for him) 60 yards on the ground.
Tomorrow, Utah State is at Oklahoma without its impact linebacker, former BYU starter Matt Ah-You, out for the season with a shoulder injury. Fresno State hosts Cincinnati, which isn't ranked but played in a BCS bowl game last year. San Jose State will be sacrificed to the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. The Spartans will receive $1 million for the game. And Louisiana Tech plays a benchmark game against Grambling. The Bulldogs and Tigers reside just three miles apart—but will be meeting for the first time. They’ll take the contest about 45 minutes away, to Independence Stadium in Shreveport.
Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins at near the top of most “hot seat” lists as he enters his fifth season at Colorado. Hawk is right up there with Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez and immediately faces a must-win game tomorrow against rival Colorado State. Writes Stewart Mandel of SI.com: “AD Mike Bohn has offered little public assurance for Hawkins, who has yet to produce a winning season and whose team badly regressed last year. The school's pending move to the Pac-10 puts even more pressure on Hawkins to show some serious progress.”
Among the Treasure Valley high school standouts opening the season with out-of-state FBS schools is Mountain View High grad Darren Markle for Washington State. The Cougars play at Oklahoma State tomorrow, and Markle will debut with Wazzu. He’s No. 2 behind Alex Hoffman-Ellis at the will linebacker spot and is coming off a solid fall camp. Linebackers coach Travis Niekamp says he won’t hesitate to insert the 6-1, 224-pound redshirt freshman in game action.
Blink and you missed it. It only lasted two hours and five minutes, but it was appreciated by those who like pitchers’ duels. Four Boise Hawks hurlers combined on a five-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Spokane, as the Hawks chalked up their fourth shutout of the season. Brent Ebinger threw the first five innings and struck out eight, improving his record to 3-2 with the win. Former Centennial standout Jordan Latham was among three Hawks relievers who brought it home, tossing a scoreless eighth. So, it’s 73 games down and three to go, as the Yakima Bears come to Memorial Stadium this weekend to close out the season.
This Day In Sports…September 3, 2009:
In what was billed as the biggest home game in Boise State history, the 14th-ranked Broncos smother 16th-ranked Oregon, 19-8, before a record crowd of 34,127 and a national audience on ESPN. The night belonged to the BSU defense, as the Ducks didn’t register a first down until midway through the third quarter and had only 152 yards for the game in the debut of new head coach Chip Kelly. But it was the aftermath of the contest that was long remembered—marrred when Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount sucker-punched the Broncos’ Byron Hout after Hout trash-talked him. The incident became an instant You Tube sensation and resulted in a season-long suspension for Blount.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)