(Tom Scott's column will return Thursday.)
December 23-24, 2013.
Just last Friday afternoon, less than an hour before word came out of Joe Southwick’s suspension (and ultimate deportation from the Islands) by Boise State, Brian Murphy and I were talking about Southwick’s journey on the Bob & Murph Show. The horribly thankless job of replacing Kellen Moore, and the Senior Night exclamation point that saw the still-recovering Southwick play the first series and throw a touchdown pass. That Southwick would put so much effort into getting back on the field after breaking his ankle in October—then have this happen after the Broncos’ first night in Honolulu is disconcerting.
Well, Southwick granted KTVB an interview last night and claimed he did not do what he was accused of—urinating off a hotel balcony Thursday night. He said another player did, but coaches wouldn’t buy his story, and believed the story of unnamed teammates. Southwick figures his agitated reaction in trying to defend himself contributed to his being sent home. He said he was dropped off at the Honolulu Airport Friday and waited nine hours for his flight. He calls the experience “devastating.” Southwick has since taken a polygraph test and showed it to KTVB during the interview. His goal is to clear his name in the community.
With Boise State’s Shane Williams-Rhodes having been declared out for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, his sophomore season will finish at 77 catches. Matt Miller also has 77, and he’ll be the one with a shot at breaking Jeremy Childs’ Bronco single-season record of 82 receptions. Look at it this way: he’ll have to if Boise State is going to beat Oregon State. With Williams-Rhodes sidelined, Miller is the only logical go-to guy for Grant Hedrick. Will Miller hit another milestone at Aloha Stadium? He’s within 66 yards of his first 1,000-yard season, currently sitting at 934. Miller has averaged 107.5 yards over the last four games.
The numbers for the Boise State defense don’t give us much of a clue as to how the Broncos will do against the relentless passing attack of Sean Mannion and his Beavers teammates. Four times this season BSU has allowed more than 300 yards through the air, led by that 460-yard night from Fresno State’s Derek Carr in September. But the Broncos also held Nevada’s Cody Fajardo and Wyoming’s Brett Smith in check. Nobody had the Mannion-to-Brandin Cooks combination the Broncos will see, though, not even the Bulldogs. Cornerbacks Donte Deayon, Mercy Maston and Bryan Douglas are going to be under a ton of pressure against the Beavers.
In the middle of the last decade, Boise State and Oregon State had a ferocious four-year rivalry going. The series ran from 2003-06, then the rivalry lost its momentum. It was only briefly rekindled in 2010, and it will be again on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl. The four rumbles in the mid-2000’s saw each team win at home, the Beavers by two and three points—and the Broncos by 19 and 28 points. Boise State’s victories were momentous. The one in 2004 was the Broncos’ first-ever over a Pac-10 school. The 2006 win that included Ian Johnson’s 240 yards and five touchdowns rushing was a serious launching pad in the first Fiesta Bowl season. Not that the 2010 game didn’t have its own story, with all the hoopla surrounding the ESPN College GameDay visit. After the Hawaii Bowl, the teams will not meet again until 2016 in Corvallis.
San Diego State made a triumphant return to the blue turf Saturday and struck a note for the Mountain West Conference, routing Buffalo 49-24 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The warm-weather Aztecs didn’t wilt in the cold, as Adam Meuma scored three touchdowns on his 229 rushing yards, the third-most in bowl history. Turnover margin heavily favored the Bulls—until the game started. It was the Aztecs who won the turnover battle 3-2. More than that, it was when they happened and where they happened. An interception in the final minute of the first half led to an SDSU touchdown and a 28-10 halftime lead, and a fumble by Buffalo’s Boise Ross (ironically) on the second half kickoff essentially sealed the deal. Resilient San Diego State thus finishes 8-5 after starting the season 0-3.
In the stands at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, it was the perfect storm (no pun intended). The storm that dumped a few inches of snow Friday night discouraged a lot of ticket holders. Couple that with 30-degree temperatures and the lack of a team that was able to travel a lot of fans (a la Utah State the past two years), and the result was an announced crowd of 21,951, the smallest since the second year of the bowl in 1998. The throng was tiny after halftime, but I don’t know what could have been done about it. A pair of Caribbean cruises given away in the third and fourth quarters with a “must be present to win” qualifier? I can tell you Buffalo and San Diego State players were happy to be in Boise.
The Mountain West wasn’t favored in any of its three bowl games Saturday. But the conference ended up winning two of them, starting with Colorado State’s thrilling 48-45 comeback win over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl. The Rams were just trying to get it to overtime when they tied the game with a two-point conversion on an Ian Johnson-esque Statue of Liberty. But yet another WSU fumble on the ensuing kickoff with 27 seconds left led to CSU’s game-winning field goal as the clock ran out. Fresno State was not ready for the national magnifying glass, suffering a 45-20 rout at the hands of USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. Derek Carr finishes his much-decorated career without a bowl trophy.
It wasn’t easy, but the Boise State men’s basketball team got some mojo back early this morning with a 62-61 win over Hawaii to open the Diamond Head Classic. Anthony Drmic hit the ultimate game-winning shot, a three-pointer with 59 seconds left. Drmic, handcuffed by Saint Mary’s in his last game and by foul trouble in this one, bounced back with a game-high 21 points. The Broncos also got their ball movement back after two straight losses, posting 17 assists, their most since the first two games of the season. Boise State also regained its shooting touch from beyond the arc, making 9-of-18 treys.
The Broncos, now 9-2, now face South Carolina in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic tonight and gets an ESPN2 appearance out of it. The Gamecocks handed Saint Mary’s its first loss of the season, 78-71, in the first round last night. South Carolina is just 3-5, but three of their losses have been to Baylor, Clemson and Oklahoma State. And the Gamecocks’ win over the Gaels could be a kick-starter.
Idaho won the “Holiday Hoops Classic” over Idaho State Friday night in CenturyLink Arena, holding off the Bengals, 69-65. The Vandals led by 13 points with seven minutes left in the game, but Idaho State started to whittle away and used an 8-0 to make it just a two-point game with 1:08 remaining. Idaho salted it away with free throws, though, improving to 6-6. Meanwhile, the College of Idaho took down its highest-ranked opponent ever on its home floor Saturday night, upending Southern Oregon, 95-83. The Raiders were ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division II, but the Coyotes took the lead once and for all midway through the first half when former Eagle High star Ben Van Lith scoring seven of his team-high 16 points.
When the Idaho Stampede hit the skids, they do it with gusto. The Stampede have now lost three straight games after their 8-0 start, falling at Santa Cruz last night, 95-91. The Stamps at least hung in ‘til the end in that one — Saturday night they were pounded 121-91 by the L.A. D-Fenders. The Stampede’s leading scorer, Pierre Jackson, is still the D-League’s leading scorer, but it’s becoming a horse race. Jackson was held to a combined 29 points over the weekend on 9-of-34 shooting from the field. The Stamps, who now lead Santa Cruz by just percentage points in the D-League West Division, finally return home Friday and Saturday to host the Texas Legends.
The Idaho Steelheads provided fans with a lot of entertainment yesterday in the finale of their long 11-game homestand. They’d just like to rewrite the ending. Bakersfield blitzed the Steelheads with three first-period goals—then Idaho returned the favor with three in the second. When Condors captain Joel Broda scored 27 seconds into the third period, it seemed like there was plenty of time for Steelies fireworks the way things were going. But Bakersfield goalie Laurent Brossoit made the lead stand up for a 4-3 victory, and the Condors, only 9-15-1 on the season, took two out of three from the Steelheads in the series. The Steelies finally hit the road again Friday and Saturday with a pair of games in Las Vegas.
This Day In Sports…December 23, 2003, 10 years ago today:
Boise State’s first out-of-town bowl game as a Division I-A school, an unlikely matchup with another Top 25 team in the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl. The Broncos fell behind TCU 21-7 in the second quarter but rallied to tie it at halftime. Then Ryan Dinwiddie threw the 82nd and final touchdown pass of his BSU career, an 18-yard fourth quarter fade to true freshman tight end Derek Schouman, to cap a 34-31 win. Dinwiddie passed for 325 yards and three TD’s to earn MVP honors, while T.J. Acree took ESPN’s Player of the Game nod with 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.
(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.)