Tuesday, October 5, 2010.
The local media asks Boise State coach Chris Petersen about the rankings every week. Apologetically, of course. Somebody has to ask, even if we already know the answer. Does Petersen use Oregon’s jump over the Broncos in the polls as motivation? “Not even kind of,” said Pete. “You put a chip on our shoulder that we’re No. 4?” he asked incredulously. Same ol’ same ol’—Petersen just will not go down the polls path. “It’s not worth talking about until you get really, really late in the season,” said Petersen. Let’s do it for him, kind of. There’s a website, BCSCentral.info, that uses everything in the BCS formula except the Harris Poll (since it hasn’t started yet this season). The site substitutes AP for Harris. And what its shows is Alabama No. 1, Boise State No. 2, Oklahoma No. 3, and Oregon No. 4. The first BCS standings come out October 17.
Stewart Mandel’s “College Football Overtime” at SI.com addresses the Boise State debate (as it does virtually every week). Mandel has a little “not so fast my friend” for you. Writes Mandel: “If the Ducks run the table, no question, they'll have a far superior resume to the Broncos come December. As of today, however, Boise's schedule strength is 32nd on CollegeBCS.com (Jerry Palm), 38th in Jeff Sagarin's ratings. Oregon's schedule, which includes wins over New Mexico and Portland State, ranks 57th in Sagarin, 81st in Palm's. Body of work? We're not there yet.”
A lot has been made of the performance of Boise State’s second and third-teamers in Las Cruces. Wide receiver Chris Potter deserves as much credit as anybody. When Mitch Burroughs went down with his high ankle sprain at Wyoming, that theoretically opened the door for Potter. Titus Young initially assumed Burroughs’ punt returning chores, but Potter took over at the end of the Oregon State game after a Young fumble. “I think he’s going to make good decisions,” said Petersen. “And that’s such a critical component to that punt returning position.” Potter is now easing into Burroughs’ role as a receiver, making his case with the 78-yard touchdown catch from Joe Southwick at New Mexico State.
I’m waiting for Potter to do something special out of the wildcat formation. He’s run it before—and, as a former high school quarterback, he could pull up and throw. Potter played one season at QB at Oaks Christian High in California, succeeding Jimmy Clausen as a senior after catching passes from the current Carolina Panther for a couple years. Remember what Tanyon Bissell accomplished in the wildcat, with three career touchdown passes? Potter update: he has four catches for 98 yards this season and three punt returns for 43 yards.
Could there be anything to work on after a 59-0 victory? Of course. References to a certain second quarter sequence will be bouncing off the film room wall. That’s the possession that imploded when a 47-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Moore to Austin Pettis was called back on a facemask penalty by left tackle Nate Potter. Then you had a dropped pass by Dan Paul, another drop by Pettis (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those). And you have a Bad News Bears drive that ended in a Kyle Brotzman punt. That’ll earn a mention or two in practice, which resumes today in preparation for Saturday night’s homecoming game versus Toledo.
Timing is the marketing byword this week for Idaho. The Vandals have a bye this Saturday, but they won’t fall off radar screens, thanks to Horizon Air. The airline has decided to give the Vandals their own dedicated plane after all. The silver and gold themed aircraft will be unveiled November 10. That’s timing—two days before the 40th Bronco-Vandal game in the Kibbie Dome. No more Rob Spear boycotts necessary (the Idaho AD refused to board the Boise State-themed plane last fall). Horizon is also going to dress planes in Montana and Montana State colors. On the field, meanwhile, Idaho linebacker Robert Siavii was named WAC Defensive Player of the Week after helping tame Western Michigan’s top-ranked passing attack. Siavii had nine tackles, 1½ tackles for loss (including half a sack), and broke up two passes in the 33-13 win.
It didn’t sound like the WAC Game of the Week going in, but it sure was coming out. Utah State’s 31-16 win over BYU was dominant—certainly not only monumental for USU, but a symbolic win for the WAC. The Cougars, who usually massively populate the Las Vegas Bowl in December, are in danger of being home for the holidays. Here’s the line of the week on that front from Ron Kantowski in the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Utah State beat BYU for the first time since 1993 on Friday night, and it wasn't even close. The Cougars fell to 1-4 and will struggle to become bowl eligible. This might explain why MAACO Bowl Las Vegas executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy was spotted staggering aimlessly around Interstate 15 North near Spanish Fork, appearing as if she'd been hit by a small truck.”
Former Bishop Kelly standout and current Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins spent a day in Boise a week and a half ago for the BSU-Oregon State game, his off-day from practice during the Buffaloes’ bye week. It had to be a pleasant diversion from the tumult in Boulder. But the tumult turned to exhilaration Saturday (even if Cody didn’t hit the field), as Colorado upended Georgia 29-27, cooling Dan Hawkins’ hot seat somewhat. The Buffs are now 3-1, and who’s to say the Zen Master can’t actually build something out of this? The embattled Hawk has no choice, of course. He visits undefeated Missouri this Saturday and still faces Big 12 road games at Oklahoma and Nebraska down the line.
The Texas trickle-down has benefitted the Idaho Steelheads, as the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, have released defensemen Dustin Friesen and Cody Lampl and forward Geoff Irwin, clearing the way for the trio to join the Steelheads’ training camp. They’re expected to be back in Boise in time for the Steelies’ first two official practices today at Qwest Arena. The Steelheads open their 14th season a week from Friday.
As the Major League Divisional Series prepare for takeoff tomorrow, let’s look at a former Boise Hawk that was largely responsible for the Yankees being a wild card. John Lackey capped his first season with the Red Sox on a spoiler’s mound, dropping the Yanks at Fenway Park Sunday in the final game of the regular season. Lackey went 7 2/3 innings and struck out 10 to finish the campaign with a 14-11 record and hand Tampa Bay the AL East crown. The 6-6 righthander’s ERA was 4.40, but he finished the season strong. Lackey had spent his first eight big league seasons with the Angels.
This Day In Sports…October 5, 1996:
Boise State plays only its third game ever against a Pac-10 school, this one against Arizona State in Sun Devil Stadium. The Broncos scored first on a touchdown pass from Tony Hilde to Andre Horace, but the Sun Devils then put up eight unanswered touchdowns in a 56-7 ASU win. Senior quarterback Jake Plummer, the former Capital Eagle, played a little more than a half in the middle of Arizona State’s Rose Bowl season.
(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 served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)