Friday, December 28, 2012.
SI.com’s Andy Staples has unveiled his predictions for the new year in college football, and—wouldn’t you know it—he’s got something on the Broncos. “Boise State will win whatever conference it belongs to in 2013,” writes Staples. “Whether that results in a BCS bowl will depend on which conference that is. The Broncos just finished their version of a rebuilding year with an 11-2 record. Now they have to figure out which league they'll play in next season. Boise State is supposed to leave the Mountain West for the Big East, but the Big East has no media rights deal. That deal gets tougher to make every day because the league doesn't know which schools it can count on to stay or even what it will even be called.”
Staples continues: “On the field, the Broncos will be good enough to win either league. The Big East would be tougher—assuming Louisville and Rutgers haven't already departed for their new leagues—but because the BCS has one last gasp in 2013, the winner of the league automatically makes a BCS bowl. In the Mountain West, Boise State probably would have to go undefeated. With out-of-conference games at Washington and BYU, that won't be easy. Northern Illinois made a BCS game with a loss this season, but after the outrage that followed that choice, expect voters to hold schools in non-AQ conferences to a higher standard now that they understand the rules.” I’d agree there. There just would have been far less of an uproar had the Broncos, with 14 years of equity, made it in with one loss.
For the record, San Jose State won the final football game ever played by a team from the WAC, defeating Bowling Green 29-20 yesterday in the Military Bowl. The Spartans finish 11-2, their first 11-win season since 1940. Elsewhere, Air Force tries to salvage some bowl season respect for the Mountain West tomorrow morning when it faces Rice in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. It’s not the sexiest matchup, as both teams are 6-6. The MW is 1-3 in bowls after Fresno State laid a hard-boiled egg in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve in its 43-10 loss to SMU. The only Mountain West triumph has been Boise State’s win in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Eagle High grad Taylor Kelly will be a key if Arizona State is to finish the season on a high note versus Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl tomorrow. The Sun Devils have clinched their first winning season in seven years, but they were hoping for more than 7-5 at this point. Kelly’s first year as ASU’s starting quarterback has been productive—he has thrown for 2,772 yards and 25 touchdowns with nine interceptions and has rushed for 435 yards. The 6-1, 200-pounder was Idaho’s 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year and originally committed to Nevada, but he changed his mind and was Arizona State's lone quarterback signee of the 2010 recruiting class. Kelly led Eagle to the state 5A championship his senior year. He didn’t play in ASU’s 56-24 loss to Boise State last year in Las Vegas.
New Idaho coach Paul Petrino has his first candidate to compete with Taylor Davis, Austin DeCoud and Chad Chalich for the Vandals’ starting quarterback spot next season. Idaho has signed junior college transfer Anthony Neyer out of Pierce College in Los Angeles. Neyer, a 6-2, 215-pounder who originally walked on at USC as a true freshman and played eight-man football until his senior year of high school, will be an unknown quantity until he hits the field in spring football. He threw only 65 passes last season for Pierce, completing just 32 for 422 yards and two touchdowns.
A year ago right now, it didn’t seem like Austin Pettis would ever be able to out-impact his old Boise State running mate, Titus Young. Pettis’ rookie season with the St. Louis Rams had just ended with a four-game suspension for a positive PED test. He finished his first year playing behind former Hawaii star Greg Salas, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2011 while Pettis was selected in the third. But Salas has since been cut by the Rams and the Patriots, while Pettis’ role appears to be increasing in St. Louis. Going into the final game of the season Sunday at Seattle, Pettis has 27 catches for 237 yards and three touchdowns. That’s just one TD fewer than Detroit’s persona non grata, Young, who’s being hidden on injured reserve by the Lions, primarily to keep him away from the team.
Boise State basketball reconvenes after a brief Christmas break to host Corban University Sunday afternoon. I said going into the LSU game two weeks ago we’d have to do a before-and-after on average attendance—through four home dates, Boise State was drawing 2,687 fans per game. The 11,210 who nearly filled Taco Bell Arena to see the Broncos beat the Tigers bumped the average up to 4,392. Now, what will Boise State get for an NAIA team in another Sunday matinee? Coach Leon Rice tries to psychologically prepare his players, regardless of the number. “Whether it’s for one, one thousand, or ten thousand, our job’s the same,” Rice tells the team.
The College of Idaho men's basketball team plays an exhibition game at Utah tonight, although the game does count on the Utes’ record. The Coyotes are 7-8, while Utah is 7-4. Since routing Boise State 76-55 three weeks ago, the Utes have lost to BYU, beaten SMU, and suffered a stunning home loss to Cal State Northridge. Tonight’s game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. It marks the first regional or national TV broadcast of a C of I game since the 1996 NAIA Division II national championship game.
This weekend the reeling Idaho Stampede face a team that’s had only slightly better luck so far this season. The Stampede put their 1-11 record up against the Reno Bighorns’ 3-6 mark tonight and tomorrow night. Idaho coach Michael Peck is keeping his hopes up. Peck points to the D-League Showcase in a couple weeks as a possible turning point to the season, because it’s after that event that the NBA call-ups accelerate. “The complexion of this league is going to change dramatically,” Peck said the other day on Idaho SportsTalk. “We’re three or four wins away from being in the thick of it in our division.” Thing is, the Stampede best not wait until the Showcase to get them.
Well, this was inevitable. Idaho Steelheads forward Austin Smith has been reassigned by the Dallas Stars to Texas of the AHL. Smith has been phenomenal through the first two months of the season, leading the Steelheads and ranking sixth in the ECHL in goals with 16. It's the second time this month the Steelies have lost a scoring leader to the AHL—Kael Mouillierat was picked up by St. John’s three weeks ago. The Steelheads return to the ice at Bakersfield tomorrow night after having Christmas week off; then they play at Las Vegas Sunday.
This Day In Sports…December 28, 2005:
The Dan Hawkins era and the 31-game winning streak on the blue turf come to an end for Boise State in the MPC Computers Bowl. Boston College, ranked 19th in both polls, burst out to a 27-0 lead before a furious BSU rally started near the end of the third quarter. Three touchdowns, punctuated by a 92-yard punt return by Quinton Jones, got the Broncos back in the game. And they were on the verge of winning it with a first-and-goal at the Eagle five in the final minute before an interception closed out a 27-21 BC victory. Hawkins left for Colorado with a 53-11 record in his five years at BSU.
(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.)