Friday, September 10, 2010.
There’s some over-analysis on Boise State out there, with the most over-the-top observation coming from ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd yesterday. It was enough to keep the phones going in the afternoon on Idaho SportsTalk. Cowherd intimated that the Broncos have become the popular overachieving mid-major team because they have lots of white guys. He went as far as to say they’re “The Little White Engine That Could.” As the years have gone on, Cowherd seems to carefully consider every popular subject—and take the position furthest away from conventional wisdom he can find just to stir the pot. And, by jove, he’s done it again.
Cowherd’s been riding that strength-of-schedule thing pretty hard. People here never said they didn’t understand the strength-of-schedule argument. It just comes back to that tired old Cowherd question, “Who did they beat?” Well, the Broncos beat 10th-ranked Virginia Tech, which had just as much time to prepare for the Labor Day game as Boise State. Cowherd would argue that the Broncos just have to get up for that one game. So who were the Hokies saving themselves for? The team they play tomorrow, James Madison?
What set Cowherd off was a column by Chris Dufresne in the Los Angeles Times that passionately defended the Broncos and said it was they who have the toughest road to a BCS Championship Game berth. “It would be a BCS death sentence for the Broncos to wobble against Wyoming in Laramie after this bye week, even though that's what Texas did last year at Laramie,” wrote Dufresne.
“The Longhorns trailed, 10-6, just before halftime—and ended up in the BCS title game. Other than playing in the watered-down WAC, don't worry about Boise State getting any breaks along the way—it won't. The Broncos won't make it to the BCS title game unless power conference schools lose—maybe more than once. Here's the real Boise bottom line: If it was to somehow reach No. 1 or No. 2, no team in BCS history would have worked harder to get there. And no team would have deserved it more.”
My rant yesterday on some games not selling out for a No. 3 team at Bronco Stadium got some reaction (not unexpectedly). Those who have been hit hard by the recession made their point, and rightfully so. A point I’ll revisit is one I made last fall: While there are football towns all over the Midwest and the South, there are only three true football towns in the West: Eugene, Provo and Missoula. So Boise’s identity crisis is hardly unique. Then again, it’s never too late to join them.
While Boise State has the weekend off, its next opponent does not. Wyoming plays at Texas tomorrow with an extra burden to bear. Freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse was killed in a car accident early Monday morning and three teammates were injured. Narcisse’s memorial service is set for Monday. Coach Dave Christensen is trying to help his team keep it together. It’ll be tough to draw many conclusions from the Cowboys’ matchup with the Longhorns.
Idaho quarterback Nate Enderle returns to Nebraska tomorrow to try to show the Cornhuskers what they’ve been missing. Enderle’s been gone a long time. He graduated early from high school in North Platte so he could get out to Moscow and participate in spring football in 2006 under Dennis Erickson. Then when Robb Akey came in as coach, he anointed Enderle as his starter as a redshirt freshman. The first two years didn’t go so well—35 interceptions against 30 touchdowns. But Enderle turned it around last year, leading Idaho to a winning season and a Humanitarian Bowl win. And he maintained that momentum last Thursday with a 311-yard night in the 45-0 win over North Dakota. Timing would seem to be good for the Vandals to visit the Huskers.
Idaho State has matched its win total in each of the past two seasons after beating Montana Western 32-13 in the Bengals’ opener last week. It doesn’t look like the Bengals will exceed it tomorrow—if Utah State plays anywhere close to the way it did last week. ISU goes to Logan to face the Aggies, who are coming off the 31-24 scare they threw into the Oklahoma Sooners. The Bengals have to be wary of USU quarterback Diondre Borel, who had an interesting night in Norman last Saturday. Borel netted minus-14 yards rushing and was just 17-of-36 through the air. But his 17 completions covered 341 yards, with two touchdowns.
Elsewhere in the WAC, it’s a revenge game for Nevada, as it hosts Colorado State. The Rams frustrated the Wolf Pack in a 35-20 win in Fort Collins a year ago, but CSU hasn’t won since. Its losing streak reach 10 games last week in a 24-3 loss to Colorado (some much-needed tonic for Dan Hawkins). Hawaii, coming off a 588-yard offensive performance in a loss to USC, has made the nine-hour flight to West Point for its game against Army, with Bryant Moniz healthy enough to start at quarterback. Louisiana Tech goes to Texas A&M. Now Bulldogs coach Sonny Dykes will see what he’s got. New Mexico State is at home versus San Diego State. The Aggies need that one if they’re going to get off the ground floor. Also, San Jose State visits Wisconsin. ‘Nuff said there.
The NFL season begins in earnest this weekend, with one former Boise State star meeting another when Baltimore visits the New York Jets. Kyle Wilson plays his first official NFL game, with a little of the pressure off now that Darrelle Revis returned to the Jets. Carr will get his chances on defense with the Ravens, but NFL observers are saying the secondary will be Baltimore’s Achilles heel. Cornerback Domonique Foxworth is out for the year. Free safety Ed Reed is out about six games with a hip injury. And Ladarius Webb hasn’t been cleared to play on his bum knee yet. Carr and his fellow secondary survivors are seen as not physical because of their size. Carr, for one, will use that as a chip for his shoulder.
This Day In Sports…September 10, 2004:
By consensus, the biggest win (at the time)in Boise State history. Before a national audience on ESPN, the Broncos recover from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to rout Oregon State 53-34—their first win ever over a Pac-10 school. Korey Hall had three interceptions, one of them returned for a game-turning touchdown before a raucous sellout crowd in Bronco Stadium. The victory propelled BSU into both polls at no. 23.
(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.)