Friday, September 20, 2013.
One of the stories on the NCAA.com homepage yesterday featured the Milk Can, the trophy that goes to the Boise State-Fresno State winner. It came complete with a photo of Titus Young kissing it and Brandyn Thompson cradling it after the Broncos’ 51-0 win over the Bulldogs in 2010. (Frankly, it’s a slow news week in college football.) The video story from NCAA.com’s “Under Center” crew followed the trendy national perception on this game, including lines like, “There’s reason to believe David’s slingshot is losing its power against Goliath.” And, “(It) has all the makings of a ‘passing the torch’ game.” And, “(Derek Carr) could have his way against the inexperienced Bronco ‘D.’” And, “The Blue Man Group is no longer the crowd-pleaser it once was—we’ll see this week if the Smurfs can once again become a box office hit.”
the biggest beatdown anyone has handed the Broncos since Georgia got them 48-13 in 2005, the year before (Chris) Petersen replaced Dan Hawkins. Not by coincidence, that's also the last time Fresno State defeated its nemesis.” The key might be what’s going on tonight inside those helmets with the green “V” on the back. “Boise State has won the past seven meetings against the Bulldogs by 10 or more points, four by 20 or more,” notes Warszawski. “Forget physical talent. It's a mental block taller than El Capitan.”
To whom will the ball be going tonight for Boise State? Virtually all of them so far this season have gone to the wide receivers. The Broncos have 78 pass completions over the first three games, and 70 of them have been snagged by the wideouts. The tight ends are of particular interest going into tonight’s game. Holden Huff is sidelined again, but Boise State still has Gabe Linehan and Connor Peters, two capable pass-gatherers. Linehan had the longest catch of his career last week, a 33-yarder from Joe Southwick. But that was only Linehan’s second reception of the year. The only catch Peters has ever made as a Bronco came on a two-point conversion last season at New Mexico. Throwing to the tight ends tonight would seem to be a valuable wrinkle.
Geraldo Boldewijn could take a step tonight, if the past is any indication. The senior from Amsterdam by way of Capital High has four career touchdown receptions, and three have come against Fresno State. Boldewijn returned to the team for the Fresno State game two years ago after his four-game suspension to start the season. He caught two Kellen Moore touchdown passes, still a career high. Boldewijn scored another TD against the Bulldogs on the blue turf last year. His only other score came last December against Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl. He came within a half-yard of a fifth career touchdown last Friday versus Air Force.
This is the second-earliest Boise State and Fresno State have ever faced off in conference play. The earliest was in 2009, when the Broncos outlasted the Bulldogs 51-34, surviving a 234-yard night by current San Diego Charger Ryan Matthews. It was 100 degrees at kickoff that night. The high today in Fresno is predicted to be 91. No big deal. Boise State just needs to have four quarters’ worth of gas in its tank.
There are three huge opportunities staring the Mountain West in the face tomorrow, starting with Utah State at USC. Southern Cal is a 6½-point favorite. But if you watched the Trojans in their 10-7 loss at home to Washington State, and if you’ve paid any kind of attention to USU, you know there isn’t any reason the Aggies can’t win that game. USC has to outscore Chuckie Keeton, who just became the first quarterback in Mountain West history to throw for five touchdowns in back-to-back games. Elsewhere, if David Fales is the real deal at quarterback, San Jose State should have a legit shot at beating Minnesota.
And one that many will file away for future reference is San Diego State’s home date with Oregon State. We’re still trying to figure out what to make of the Aztecs after their losses to Eastern Illinois and Ohio State. SDSU will start walk-on quarterback Quinn Kaehler, who relieved Adam Dingwell versus the Buckeyes and threw for 216 yards and a touchdown. Dingwell has tossed five interceptions in five quarters of work this season. And the Aztecs should have star running back Adam Muema back against the Beavers. Muema has played sparingly due to a low ankle sprain but was said to be “flying around” in practice Wednesday. On the opportunity front, I don’t consider Colorado State at Alabama as much of one.
Oddsmakers haven’t bought in to Idaho’s outstanding effort and progress in the Vandals’ 10-point loss to heavily-favored Northern Illinois last week. Washington State is a 31-point favorite in the 91st Battle of the Palouse tomorrow. The question will be: was Idaho’s offensive emergence last week for real? We’ll find out, as the Cougars are 11th in the nation defensively in yards allowed. The Vandal offense performed well on the ground and in the air last week—James Baker rushed for 74 yards on 19 carries, Chad Chalich was 14-of-25 for 236 yards, and Dezmon Epps led the receiving corps with eight catches for 106 yards. Idaho needs to pile up some points, because it promises to allow a good chunk on defense.
Chris Carr is about to play in his ninth NFL season. The former Boise State cornerback was picked up by the New Orleans Saints this week in time to activate him for Sunday’s game against Arizona in the Superdome. Carr was signed by the Saints in June and lasted until the final cuts of training camp, when he was a numbers casualty in the secondary. Elsewhere, don’t expect to see former Broncos Quintin Mikell and Jeron Johnson Sunday. Neither player has participated in practice this week, with Mikell ruled out of Carolina’s game against the Giants with an ankle injury, and Johnson doubtful for the Seahawks versus Jacksonville with a hamstring problem.
Graham DeLaet was knocking on the contention door at the Tour Championship until the final five holes of the first round yesterday. The Boise State grad absorbed three bogeys over that stretch to finish with a two-under 68, tied for sixth place. DeLaet is four shots behind leader Henrik Stenson, who burned the East Lake Golf Club course with a 64. That’s not too much ground to make up over the next three days, though, if DeLaet were to catch fire and sustain it. But he needs Stenson to fall off. One of his other rivals for the FedExCup has a much taller order—Tiger Woods was three-over at 73 and is in second-to-last place. Of course, there are just 30 players in the season finale.
Last night, former Boise Hawk John Lackey pitched one of his best games since going to Boston in 2010, and it came on the night the Red Sox clinched a postseason berth. The 34-year-old righthander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finished with a complete-game three-hitter in a 3-1 win over Baltimore. Lackey’s 10-12 record this season is deceiving. He’s compiled a strong 3.34 ERA—he just hasn’t had a lot of run support. It’s even more striking with Lackey’s coming off Tommy John surgery last year. Incidentally, Lackey has had two other flirtations with no-hitters. One was three years ago at Safeco Field against the Mariners, broken up in the eighth inning by Casey Kotchman, the son of Lackey’s former manager with the Hawks.
This Day In Sports…September 20, 2008, five years ago today:
Boise State picks up a landmark win, its first-ever over a BCS school on the road, with a 37-32 victory at Oregon. It was the one validation long-time naysayers had been looking for, and the Broncos made their season debut at No. 19 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the Coaches Poll. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Moore was unphased by the loud throng of 58,713 in sold-out Autzen Stadium, throwing for 386 yards and three touchdowns in only his third college game. Moore keyed a 24-point second quarter that allowed BSU to hold off a wild fourth quarter Duck rally.
(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.)