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Las Vegas comes up with these numbers for a reason

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on November 6, 2009 at 8:51 AM


Friday, November 6, 2009.
Boise State’s biggest margin of victory in Ruston, LA, has been 17 points (in 2005). Two years ago the Broncos yielded 463 yards there to Louisiana Tech. Former Bulldog star Luke McCown twice threw for over 400 yards on the Broncos at Joe Aillet Stadium, one of those occasions a 464-yard effort coming in one of BSU’s four all-time losses in the WAC. That was Tech’s 48-42 win in 2001 that cost the Broncos the WAC championship and a bowl game berth, thus inspiring the 2002 slogan, “Leave No Doubt.”
And so…Boise State is a 21-point favorite on the road at La Tech tonight on ESPN2. Las Vegas is right more often than it’s wrong. But sometimes you wonder what they look at to establish these lines. Maybe it was the 17-point win at Fresno State and the 45-point victory at Hawaii. But this has been circled as a trap game since long before the season started. Joe Aillet is the place that has cured the Bulldogs’ ills this season—they’re 3-0 at home, winning by an average of 28 points. 
Boise State is already being lampooned for hiring a public relations firm to advance its case as a BCS bowl candidate. And therein lies the rub. BSU didn’t hire Scott Peyron & Associates—the WAC did. Too many national onlookers are going to conveniently ignore that fact. The concept seems to go against every part of Chris Petersen’s being. So what effect will it have? It depends on how the message is presented. If the story about the Broncos being turned down by upwards of 10 elite BCS schools for a game in 2011 is a product of the new PR campaign, then it’s working. That has been all over the place the past three days; ESPN Radio’s Scott Van Pelt spent 10 minutes yesterday talking about “the plight of Boise State.”
Kellen Moore is one of 16 semifinalists for the 73rd Annual Maxwell Award that goes to college football’s best player. The Boise State quarterback is hard to ignore when he’s perched on top of the nation’s pass efficiency list, with 24 touchdown passes against only two interceptions. Fresno State’s star tailback Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, is also a semifinalist—he and Moore are two of only three players from non-BCS schools on the list. The other is Houston quarterback Case Keenum. There’s a feature story on Moore today in the New York Times. One of the interesting revelations is that Moore and Keenum text-message each other about football stuff.
Remember the two touchdowns Boise State scored right before halftime against San Jose State last Saturday? They may not have happened had the Spartans been able to keep their drive alive with four minutes left in the second quarter. On third-and-10 at the Spartan 15, Jordan LaSecla hit Josh Harrison on a swing pass. Jerrell Gavins tried to knock him out of bounds but didn’t get a good hit on him. Harrison tip-toed along the sideline and appeared to reach the ball past the first-down marker. The official marked him out of bounds just short. The play was reviewed, and the call was upheld. But the WAC says it clearly should not have been and has suspended replay official Michael Goshima for one game.
As Idaho coaches have tried to anticipate what Fresno State is going to do tomorrow night, they’ve had to try to read the minds of four coordinators instead of two. The Bulldogs have a new shared-responsibility concept among offensive and defensive coaches this year, and it appears to be working, as the ‘Dogs have won four straight games. On offense, Jeff Grady and Derek Frazier are splitting the coordinator’s duties, with Grady guiding the passing game and Frazier the running game. Randy Stewart (a former BSU defensive back) and Tim Skipper job-share on defense. The Bulldogs had lost last year’s O-coordinator, former Idaho quarterback Doug Nussmeier, to Washington. It was the fourth straight year the team’s O.C. had departed. Fresno State, of course, lost D-coordinator Dan Brown, another BSU alum, to cancer in March.
Elsewhere in the WAC, did you ever think you’d see the day? Utah State is actually favored over Hawaii—at Aloha Stadium. The Aggies stunned the Warriors 30-14 last year in Logan—and, despite a 2-6 record, USU is going in an entirely different direction than UH. If San Jose State plays as hard against Nevada Sunday night at home on ESPN as it did at Boise State last week, the Spartans have a chance against the Wolf Pack. We’ll know quickly by the number of empty seats at Spartan Stadium if SJSU fans have been soured on their team, thus deflating any home field advantage the Spartans might enjoy.
If Boise State men’s basketball does redshirt Daequon Montreal, it’ll be putting a lot of stock in Ike Okoye. The senior power forward and one-time transfer from Wyoming had a serviceable year last season, averaging just under nine points and 5½ rebounds a game. The Broncos are looking for Okoye to take that next step, much like Mark Sanchez did a year ago when he had to pick up the slack for the departed Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry. Coach Greg Graham has one more chance to do a Montreal-Okoye comparison before making a redshirt decision when BSU plays its second and final exhibition game tomorrow night against Concordia in Taco Bell Arena.
The Idaho Stampede selected former Georgia standout Sundiata Gaines in the first round of the NBA D-League Draft last night. Gaines started every game of his 123-game career with the Bulldogs. He played professionally in Italy last season. Gaines was one of eight players taken by the Stampede, who open training camp a week from Sunday. The season opens Saturday, November 28, against Reno in Qwest Arena.
The Idaho Steelheads get two more shots at Utah this weekend—one tonight on the road and the other tomorrow night in Qwest Arena. Something had to give in the first game of this series Wednesday night, and it gave in on the Steelheads. The Grizzlies came into the contest leading the ECHL in scoring at five goals a game, and they scored exactly that. The Steelies had been leading the league in goals-against average at 2.29. Utah features the ECHL Player of the Month for October, Ryan Kinasewich. He topped the ECHL in October with nine goals and three game-winning goals, while tying for the lead with 14 points in five games. Kinasewich is the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in goals scored.
There’s another top 10 Boise State team that happens to be in action at 6PM tonight. That’s the Bronco wrestling squad, No. 9 in the preseason rankings, host the University of Great Falls in Bronco Gym. It’s one of only three home duals this season for the Broncos, who are led by Kirk Smith. The junior from Centennial High is the defending Pac-10 champion at 184 pounds and won his season-opening match last week with an 18-2 decision over North Idaho College’s Celic Bell. Also, the Boise State women’s soccer team is into the semifinals of the WAC Tournament after sophomore Brandy Hickcox scored on a 89th-minute free kick to lift the Broncos past Fresno State yesterday, 2-1. 
This Day In Sports…November 6, 1971:
Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen were too young to think about playing for UC Davis, but Mike Bellotti, now head coach at Oregon, was already there. It’s called the Aggies’ “Miracle Minute” game. Trailing Cal State Hayward 29-14 in the final minute of the contest, Davis got a touchdown and two-point conversion to get within seven. Then the Aggies recovered an onside kick with 15 seconds left, and Bellotti scored a TD on the final play from scrimmage to make it 29-28. UC Davis went for two and got it, winning 30-29.
(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 handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)