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Style points, style points. Are they only in the score?

Style points, style points.  Are they only in the score?

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on September 27, 2010 at 7:32 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 6:09 PM


Monday, September 27, 2010.
Oh, those style points. Kirk Herbstreit led the charge last week in saying that Boise State had to not only beat Oregon State Saturday, but win impressively. So, define “impressive.” The Broncos did not cover the spread. They saw a portion of their special teams blow up, and they were flagged with some incredibly damaging penalties. So Boise State gets docked for that. But shouldn’t fans of “style points” note that one team dominated the line of scrimmage, had by far the better quarterback, running back, wide receivers, and so on? Against a ranked Pac-10 team? I mean, Boise State won 37-24 and won the total yardage battle 469 to 237. Hey—why doesn’t Oklahoma need any style points? The 8th-ranked Sooners have beaten Utah State by seven points, Air Force by three, and Cincinnati by two. All at home.
The marquee name for Boise State coming into the game was, of course, Kellen Moore. And he was money again, throwing for 288 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. For Oregon State, the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, were a double marquee. Unfortunately, James was knocked out of the game when the Broncos’ Winston Venable blew up his attempted block late in the third quarter. To that point, James had only two catches for 11 yards (but he did break that 54-yard punt return for a touchdown). 
Quizz? He was outdone by Boise State’s Doug Martin—he of the 138 yards on 19 carries. Rodgers managed just 46 yards on 18 attempts. It was the worst rushing game of Jacquizz’s stellar Oregon State career in a game he finished. It was a career high for Martin, who only once has had 20 carries in a game. His 55-yard run in the third quarter was a long version of the amazing tackle-breaking effort versus Nevada last November that I’ve called the best 16-yard run I’ve ever seen. Then there was the performance in the Broncos’ final possession, the seven-minute drive that saw him account for 61 of 67 yards. Martin’s making a bid to become a marquee name himself.
Pressure on the quarterback has been the key to everything so far this season for the Boise State defense. The Broncos recorded four more sacks against Oregon State, with the tone-setter coming on the Beavers first drive, when Jamar Taylor’s hit on a corner blitz left quarterback Ryan Katz flattened. BSU has 11 sacks over the first three games, good for fifth in the country. The Broncos had 25 total sacks last season, 72nd in the nation. Shea McClellin is off to a great start this year with three sacks, but the boost has been provided by defensive line newcomers like Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Tyrone Crawford, who each had a sack Saturday night.
There’s always something to work on, no matter where you’re ranked. And oh do the Broncos have stuff to work on this week. It’s hard to remember the last time Boise State’s special teams imploded the way they did versus Oregon State. There was the punt return for the TD, a 40-yard kickoff return that set up another touchdown, Titus Young’s fumbled punt that led to another TD, and Trevor Harman’s out-of-bound’s kickoff (the ensuing Beavers drive ended with a missed field goal). Here’s guessing that special teams Jeff Choate will, uh, display a high level of energy this week.
Who can imagine the ESPN College GameDay extravaganza going any better Saturday morning? It was unbelievable to see the line to enter Bronco Stadium snake down Broadway, onto University Drive and all the way down to the Student Union Building before 6AM. The placement of the set on the blue turf worked out great (I’d never seen the sun rise in the stadium before). The 13,250 fans played their part perfectly. Picabo Street’s selection as celebrity picker surprised me, but she came prepared and did a fine job. Then there was the game, drawing a record crowd of 34,137. The Oregonian’s Paul Buker, for one, was taken aback. He wrote that it sounded like 60,000 in there Saturday night. And that guy’s been around.
Several things are striking about the polls this week. Boise State is still No. 3 in both behind Alabama and Ohio State, but Nevada has joined the Broncos in the Top 25 at No. 25. It’s the first time the Wolf Pack has been ranked since 1948. Elsewhere, Oregon State still received seven points in the AP Poll but got zero love from the coaches, while the recovering Virginia Tech Hokies received nary a vote in AP but garnered two points in the Coaches Poll. Those style points? As much as they shouldn’t count, they do. TCU, with a lackluster 41-24 win over SMU Friday night on ESPN, was leapfrogged (no pun intended) by Oregon. The Ducks are No. 4 on both lists, and the Horned Frogs are No. 5.
It was there for the taking for Idaho Saturday. The Vandals were facing a Colorado State team that had lost 12 games in a row and had scored just two offensive touchdowns this season. But UI’s newly-respected defense experienced a major letdown. Idaho blew two double-digit leads and lost to the delirious Rams, 36-34, on a field goal as time ran out. The Vandal defense had five more sacks, three by Aaron Lavarias, but CSU countered the pressure with screens and draws to running back Raymond Carter, who went over 100 yards in both rushing and receiving. The Rams awakened with 494 yards, and the complexion of the season changes a bit for Idaho, now 2-2.
Daryn Colledge’s time on the shelf was short, and he’s probable for the Packers in tonight’s Monday Night Football clash in Chicago. The former Boise State star had been off to a widely-scrutinized strong start for the Pack this season after fighting to retain his left guard spot. But Colledge suffered a sprained knee in practice last Thursday. He went through Green Bay’s full practice Saturday, though, and it appears he’ll be good to go against the Bears. Colledge hasn't missed a game in his five NFL seasons and has started all but four of his career 69 contests.
This Day In Sports…September 27, 1997:
Boise State suffers the worst loss in its history—a 58-0 shutout at Washington State. The Cougars, in the middle of their first Rose Bowl season in 67 years, held the Broncos to 115 total yards—their second-lowest output ever. It was (and still is) only the second shutout suffered by BSU as a four-year school. Houston Nutt, in his only season as Bronco coach, gave the team a pep talk after the game, and it recovered to go 3-4 the rest of the season and beat Idaho in the Kibbie Dome for the first time in 16 years.
(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 served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)