Thursday, December 10, 2009.
We’ve been following Kellen Moore’s pass efficiency rating all season, especially since the Boise State quarterback took over the national lead. But when you look at those pass efficiency numbers, don’t skip over No. 4. That’s Andy Dalton of TCU, with a rating of 159.6 to Moore’s 167.3. Dalton was seen as a kind of a caretaker of the Horned Frogs offense a year ago going into the Poinsettia Bowl. He was 50th in the nation in pass efficiency in 2008. Now he’s the trigger man, with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. The natural storyline is the top scoring team in the country (Broncos) against the national leader in total defense (Frogs). But TCU is fourth in scoring at 40.7 points per game and is actually ahead of BSU in total offense (469 yards per game to 460).
Moore is the face of the Boise State program right now, and Jerry Hughes is essentially the front man for TCU. So Dalton will be hearing a lot about Moore and will have plenty of time to stew about it. Dalton has developed into a good thrower—he was already a solid running quarterback. He’s rushed for 522 yards this season and had 74 on the ground last December in the Horned Frogs’ 17-16 win over the Broncos in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Hughes’ name is going to pop up a lot around here the next 3½ weeks. Today it’s because Hughes, the TCU star, has won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. And it wasn’t close, as Hughes garnered almost 60 percent of the vote. He led the nation’s best defense this season with 11½ sacks and a career-high 54 tackles. That will be a subplot January 4, as Boise State has allowed only five sacks all year, the fewest in the country.
I’m trying to figure out exactly why this is ironic, but it seems like it must be. One of the nation’s four-star high school running backs who had long ago committed to Oregon has now reneged and is headed for TCU. Ethan Grant of Coconut Creek, FL, announced it on his Facebook page Tuesday. He now becomes the top recruit of the Horned Frogs’ 2010 class. However, the Ducks are still awaiting a planned visit from the Sporting News’ No. 1 recruit in the country, Marcus Lattimore of Duncan, SC.
Boise State’s Chris Petersen is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Only the cream of the crop is left in the running for this one: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly, Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Texas’ Mack Brown, and TCU’s Gary Patterson. Quick—when did Eddie Robinson coach in Bronco Stadium? Well, Sunday will mark the 29th anniversary of that occasion, the semi-finals of the 1980 Division I-AA Playoffs when Boise State upset the Tigers and their coaching legend, 14-9.
One of the focal points of the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl is bound to be Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green’s star wide receiver who’s up for the Biletnikoff Award tonight. So, how has the season gone for Barnes since we left off in September? He was the nation’s leading receiver when Boise State traveled to Ohio and held him to four catches and 24 yards in the Broncos’ 49-14 victory. Well, Barnes not only remains the national leader in receptions, he’s four away from college football’s single season record. He has a whopping 138 receptions, 31 more than the second-place guy, Danario Alexander of Missouri. That’s an average of 11½ catches per game. Mike Iupati will join Barnes at the College Football Awards Show tonight—the Idaho star is a finalist for the Outland Trophy.
Is Pat Hill coming up on his final game at Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl against Wyoming? Hill still hasn’t worked out a contract extension with the Bulldogs beyond 2010. Matt James of the Fresno Bee recently had some interesting reflections on the subject. “The Hill decision is a tough one. In real life, we are terrified of change, freak out when a church service starts earlier or the newspaper moves our comics around. In sports life, we crave change. The unknown always lets our imagination see the best possible scenario, a new coach who will challenge Boise every year, who will win the conference or make a BCS run.
“One side sees Hill as the only thing keeping Fresno State athletics at this level. The other thinks he's what's holding it back. Neither can be convinced otherwise. The real risk for this administration would be going in a different direction, not because a new coach couldn't win, but because he could do something Hill hasn't done, which is fail. But it's sports, not the real world, and so it's a risk a lot of people are ready to take.”
Boise State started sluggishly last night, turning the ball over and having difficulty getting a shot off on Idaho State. The Bengals led 11-2 before the Broncos broke a sweat. BSU came back to take a 31-25 halftime lead but had 10 turnovers at the break, about par for the course during their recent rash of ball security woes. Amazingly, though, the Broncos turned it over only once in the second half, shifting gears to beat the Bengals going away, 79-67. Ike Okoye is in an eye-opening groove for Boise State, leading the way with 23 points and nine rebounds. It was the third 20-point game in the last four outings for Okoye. The Broncos return to Taco Bell Arena Saturday night to open a five-game homestand against San Diego.
The ECHL’s hottest team was cooled on its home ice last night, as the Idaho Steelheads fell in a shootout to Ontario, 3-2. The Steelheads looked like they’d roll to win No. 19 early, getting first period goals from new addition Luke Gazdic and John Swanson. But that was it for the night. Goalie Rejean Beauchemin and his defense were successfully protecting the lead until the final 4½ minutes of the game, when the Reign tallied twice to force overtime. Ontario then got the best of Beauchemin in his first shootout of the season. The Steelheads still boast a record of 18-4-2 as the two teams resume their three-game series tomorrow night at Qwest Arena.
This Day In Sports…December 10, 1994, 15 years ago today:
In the Division I-AA semi-finals at Bronco Stadium, Boise State rallies past Marshall, 28-24, to advance to the championship game the following week on Marshall’s home field. A battered Tony Hilde threw two first half interceptions and was replaced by Mark Paljatak before halftime, and Paljatak ate into a 24-7 Marshall lead with a touchdown pass to Lee Schrack. Hilde returned in the second half and hit Schrack for the winning TD. Coach Pokey Allen had said he’d ride a horse down Broadway if 20,000 fans showed up. They did—and he did.
(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.)