Monday, September 20, 2010.
So much for the “trap game” idea. When that term is floated out there in relation to Boise State this season, it seems that it will be rendered irrelevant. A team with 18 seniors, all but three of whom have been around since they were freshman, wants to make sure of it. The Broncos were extraordinarily prepared for their game at Wyoming Saturday, ignoring a rare Laramie sellout—and the temptation to look ahead to Oregon State—in posting a 51-6 rout. The Cowboys were the only Mountain West team Boise State will face this season before moving to that conference next year. So this game will have staying power, spreading both hope and dread in the MWC.
Statistically, it would have to be the most complete game of the Coach Pete Era at Boise State. The Bronco rolled up 648 yards, fifth-most in school history and the most since Chris Petersen took over as head coach in 2006. Defensively, it was the best road effort in Pete’s tenure, as the Cowboys mustered only 135 yards. They had minus-21 on the ground, the fifth-fewest ever allowed by Boise State. The Broncos outdistanced the Pokes in first downs a whopping 32 to 7. "There's no what-ifs in this game," UW coach Dave Christensen said. "Those guys handed it to us, from the time we walked up and down that field until the game ended."
Which brings us to Kellen Moore. What were the two things Moore’s game was lacking in Week 1 against Virginia Tech? Completion percentage and yards per attempt. Well, Moore was 20-of-30 at Wyoming, and he gained 12.3 yards per throw. That’s 18.5 yards per completion. Kellen’s 370 yards were the third-highest total of his career, behind only Nevada (414) and Oregon (386) in 2008. How about this: four of the top five passing yardage games in Moore’s career have come on the road.
The whipping of Wyoming not only kept Boise State No. 3 in both polls (still with one first-place vote in AP), it made ESPN College GameDay’s trip to Boise a layup. The nation’s most popular weekly sports show is headed here for the first time Saturday. The setup will be inside Bronco Stadium, with fans allowed on the blue turf beginning at 5:30AM. Remember that it’s a three-hour extravaganza now, starting at 7AM Mountain time. Erin Andrews anchors the first hour on ESPNU before Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard start firing at 8AM on ESPN. And it is an ABC game, too—not regional, but national prime time—with a 6PM kickoff.
The win at Wyoming featured a laundry list of firsts for Boise State players. Geraldo Hiwat and Aaron Burks had the first receptions of their careers, Hiwat’s covering 22 yards and Burks’ 16. Shea McClellin scored his first college touchdown on the end zone fumble recovery (he had scored a bunch of TDs as a running back at Marsing High). Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and Tyrone Crawford combined for their first career sack. Trevor Harman got his foot on the ball for the first time in a college game, relieving Kyle Brotzman on kickoffs (and recording his first touchback). And Joe Southwick took his first snaps at quarterback, though all he did was hand off on the Broncos’ final touchdown drive.
Speaking of complete games, Idaho had one in its 30-7 undressing of UNLV Saturday night in the Kibbie Dome. The offense churned out a workmanlike 332 yards, but the defense, much-maligned through the new century, came up big. The Rebels were held to 187 yards and only averted a shutout by scoring with 1:19 left. The Vandals, who have been sack-challenged over the years, got to UNLV quarterbacks six times on the night. "It was the best defensive performance we've had since I've been here," said senior defensive end Aaron Lavarias, who had three tackles for loss (including two sacks) and a forced fumble.
There’s a lot of notice-serving in the WAC in September. It was pointed out on ESPN’s Friday night telecast of Nevada’s 52-31 crushing of California that Boise State has more to worry about than just Oregon State the rest of the season. Because it came against a ranked (in one poll) BCS team, it can be classified as one of the biggest victories of Chris Ault’s coaching career with the Pack. The inability to win games like that has been the knock on Ault. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was as good as he’s ever been, but where were all the Bears’ defenders on the edge? Would love to sit down with former Cal defensive coordinator (and current Bronco linebackers coach) Bob Gregory and ask him what he thought was up with those guys.
Kyle Wilson’s stock improved a bit in Game 2 of his NFL career. The talk all week was of how the Patriots’ Wes Welker was going to own the former Boise State star. In the Jets’ 24-14 win at New England yesterday, Welker did catch a six-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter, but Welker’s six catches on the day covered only 38 yards. Now we’ll see if Wilson’s role changes again, as All-Pro cornerback Derrelle Revis left yesterday’s game in the second quarter. It was just after Randy Moss had made an amazing one-handed 34-yard TD catch. Revis immediately grabbed his left leg and headed for the sidelines. By the way, Wilson did something he didn’t do much at Boise State. He returned a kickoff—taking it 15 yards.
When you’re No. 12 on the Nationwide Tour money list, even this late in the year, strange things can still happen to knock you out of “The 25” that are guaranteed spots in the 2011 PGA Tour at the end of the season. When you’re No. 4, your worries are over. The win by Hunter Haas yesterday at the Albertsons Boise Open moved him those eight precious spots—and won him a tidy $130,500. Haas fired an eight-under 64 in the final round to tie the tournament record for overall score at 21-under. The 33-year-old Oklahoma alum, wearing a Sooners shirt, started the day three shots behind 54-hole leader Daniel Summerhays but started a charge with five birdies on the front nine. Haas got another bird on No. 10, then collected a decisive birdie on the par-5 16th. The victory is his second on the Nationwide this season.
The lone local tie to make the cut, former Boise State standout Troy Merritt, shot a two-under-70 in yesterday’s final round. That would sound great at Hillcrest any other weekend of the year, but with scores stunningly low at the Albertsons Boise Open, it left him 13 shots off the pace for the tournament. Three bogeys and one double-bogey spelled the difference. Merritt and former teammate and fellow PGA Tour rookie Graham DeLaet now prepare for the PGA Tour Fall Series, beginning at the end of the month with the Viking Classic in Mississippi. The five series tournaments will determine whether Merritt and DeLaet finish in the top 125 on the money list, thus earning full-season exemptions to next season’s PGA Tour tournaments. Both players are on the bubble.
This Day In Sports…September 20, 2006:
Boise gets a world cycling champion, as Kristin Armstrong (now a new mom) becomes only the third American ever to win the women's time trial world title. And it wasn’t close. In Salzburg, Austria, she beat two-time defending champion Karin Thurig of Switzerland by 25½ seconds. Armstrong had already won the U.S. road race and time trial championships earlier in the year. Not to mention the Twilight Criterium in Downtown Boise. She would go on, of course, to win a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008 and would repeat at world time trial champion before retiring in 2009.
(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.)