Wednesday, November 2, 2011.
“Due diligence” isn’t taking very long for Boise State, if numerous reports have the story right. The invitation to the Big East is said to be on the way to the Broncos, as are the ones to Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and Central Florida. CBS Sports.com’s Brett McMurphy confidently writes that the Broncos could be Big East members by Friday, following the Idaho State Board of Education meeting that will discuss conference affiliation tomorrow. McMurphy reported that after yesterday's Big East meeting in Philadelphia, representatives from Boise State, SMU, Houston and Central Florida held a conference call and are “100 percent” on board in joining together. An ESPN “Bottom Line” item last night said, “Adding Boise State is more challenging than other schools.” But this has a certain feeling of inevitability to it.
If the winds are blowing Big Easterly, there’s a rather large secondary decision facing Boise State. Where do the Broncos put their other sports? That delicate situation could delay a Big East announcement. Ideally, the non-football programs would stay in the Mountain West, but the MW won’t let them. The WAC as it will look in 2012-13 doesn’t look so good, and the West Coast Conference, made up entirely of religious-affiliated schools, isn’t a fit. That leaves the Big West, with whom Boise State has reportedly been in discussions. Don’t really want to think about that until I have to.
As Kellen Moore sits one win away from the college football record for victories by a quarterback, let’s look at some remarkable nuggets from his stat sheet. Mike Kingery, a contributor at OBNUG.com, found that Moore has played his best football when behind. It’s just that Moore has hardly ever trailed in his career. His efficiency rating in the 10 games that’s happened is a resounding 191. He’s completed 79 percent of his throws, with eight touchdowns and one interception in those situations. Here’s the good one: Kellen's career stat line when his team is trailing by eight points or more: 0-of-0 for zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Yes, the Broncos have never trailed by more than seven points in the 47 games of the Kellen Moore era.
Kingery’s other interesting finding is Moore’s performance in the fourth quarter. He’s played in the final period in only 30 of his 47 games—only 9½ percent of his 12,877 career yards and nine percent of his 123 touchdown passes have come in the fourth. Houston’s Case Keenum has percentages of 23 and 28 percent, respectively. Keenum tends to stay in games for a long time, although often it’s because the Houston defense hasn’t spotted him a comfortable enough lead. What would Moore's numbers look like, Kingery asks, if Boise State's defense was allowing 25-30 points a game?
Have you noticed that there’s a 41-point spread in the Boise State-UNLV game Saturday night? The Rebels have, and they’re fueled by the fact the spread is reflective of what everybody outside the program thinks. "The guys in the locker room are really all that matter," UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring said in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We're all believing, and we're all looking to upset Boise this weekend." Forty-one points is massive in a road game. Then again, the Broncos have played their best football away from home this season.
Idaho’s passing game has plunged deeper into the abyss after Taylor Davis and Brian Reader combined to go just 11-of-24 for 85 yards with two interceptions last week. The Vandals have to get that corrected in a hurry if it wants to snap its six-game losing streak against a much-improved San Jose State team Saturday. Idaho hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in regulation since September, and the Vandal offense overall has scored just three TDs the last four games. But maybe Spartan Stadium can spark something in Reader. It was there that the senior quarterback engineered a 67-yard fourth quarter drive in relief of Nate Enderle that beat SJSU, 29-25. That was a key win in Idaho’s run to the Humanitarian Bowl.
It’s no secret that Boise State needs Georgia to keep winning. Fortunately for the Broncos, the Bulldogs have New Mexico State at home Saturday, because they’ll be without true freshman running back Isaiah Crowell—and more—against the Aggies. Crowell and two other Georgia running backs have been suspended for the NMSU contest for violating team rules. A note in DawgNation says the suspensions are due to failed drug tests last week. A fourth running back has a separate issue. Richard Samuel, who started against Boise State Labor Day weekend, could be out for four weeks after ankle surgery.
The Idaho Steelheads are hoping November provides a fresh start as a three-game series against Las Vegas opens tonight in CenturyLink Arena, Because October was awful, with the Steelheads starting the season 1-6. The only highlights for the Steelies offensively have been Chad Klassen, who has registered at least one point in every game in which Idaho has scored, and forward Ondrej Roman, who was assigned to the Steelheads by Dallas last week and posted goals in each of his first two games last weekend. The Steelies will be facing a team with gobs of firepower, as the Wranglers lead the ECHL in shots on goal with 273. The Vegas centerpiece right now is newly-named ECHL Player of the Week Eric Lampe, the league leader in October with 10 goals. Lampe scored a team record four times in a 9-3 win over Colorado last Friday.
The Idaho Stampede are reassembling what they really liked off last year’s club that finished with a 22-13 run after a 2-13 start. The latest component is forward Seth Tarver, who re-signed yesterday. Tarver, the former Oregon State star, played in 49 of the Stamps’ 50 games last season and averaged 9.9 on 48 percent shooting from the field. Tarver was Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009-10. League sources are saying former Boise State standout Reggie Larry is getting a long look from the Stampede as training camp approaches.
The retirement of St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa inspired some trivia from a Scott Slant reader. Long forgotten is the fact a 19-year-old La Russa played in the Northwest League for the 1964 Lewiston Broncs. He was a second baseman and batted .234 in 82 games. A year later, La Russa’s future White Sox, A’s and Cards pitching coach, Dave Duncan, also came through Lewiston. Duncan played 51 games for the Broncs in 1965 before being promoted to Double-A Birmingham, where he met La Russa for the first time. And the rest, as they say…
This Day In Sports…November 2, 1974:
Hank Aaron, baseball’s all-time home run king, is traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Dave May. In April of that year, Aaron had passed Babe Ruth on the career homer list with number 715. He would play his final season in Milwaukee in 1975, ending up with 755 career dingers.
(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.)