Monday, November 23, 2009.
Kellen Moore had an off-night in Boise State’s game at Utah State Friday night. What constitutes an off-night by Moore’s standards? He threw for only one touchdown and completed only 52 percent of his attempts. Never mind that Moore again went without an interception, passed for 233 yards, and engineered three demoralizing scoring drives in the second quarter (and that doesn’t count the one-play, nine-yard “march” after Ryan Winterswyk’s fumble recovery). The numbers that matter to Moore: 52, as in points for his team; 21, as in points for the other team; and 11, as in wins by his team. That the latter number matches his jersey is just a bonus.
In 23 previous career games, Moore had never hit fewer than 60 percent of his passes until the 15-of-29 experience in Logan. Combine that with the below-average number of TDs, and Moore’s pass efficiency rating fell about 3½ points to 168.8. Kellen still leads the nation in efficiency, though. Now in second place is BYU’s Max Hall with a rating of 167.2.
Of course, the difference Friday night was the Boise State running game, reaching a season high 323 yards, with both Doug Martin and Jeremy Avery topping the 100-yard mark. Those were the eighth and ninth times a Bronco back has gone over the century mark this season, compared with just two in all of 2008 (Avery at Idaho and Ian Johnson in the memorable regular season finale versus Fresno State).
The 11-game mark is a good point to check the record watch. It’s relevant, because college football regular seasons used to be 11 games long. With three games left, Moore will likely break Bart Hendricks’ Boise State single-season touchdown pass record of 35. Kellen has 33 TDs through 11 games. Thing is, Bart established his record in 11 games in 2000. That was before bowl games counted in season stats. Jim McMillan threw for 33 touchdowns in 1974, and he did it in 10 games, having missed the season opener due to an injury. I bring this up not to take anything away from what Moore has done or will do. After all, Kellen is only a sophomore, and Hendricks and McMillan were seniors when they had their record seasons. Those oldies but goodies just deserve some extra credit. (Bart is now officially an oldie.)
The record Austin Pettis holds was attained the old-fashioned way—in 11 games or less. Pettis broke the 35-year-old school record for touchdown receptions with 14 in 10 games. Mike Holton had 13 TDs in 11 games in 1974, and Don Hutt did the same in 1973. Pettis did have his school record streak of games with a touchdown catch end at 10 games, as he went without a score in Logan.
Kirk Herbstreit mentioned something on College GameDay Saturday that Chris Petersen probably thought only he trumpeted. Herbstreit credited the Broncos for persevering again Friday night despite getting another opponent’s best shot. Every week gets more difficult, regardless of the opposition. "I don't think they would have put this game on ESPN if they didn't expect something from Utah State," USU running back Robert Turbin said in the Deseret News last week. "A lot of people probably expect the game to be out of reach. We believe different. On ESPN, the atmosphere will be that much bigger. We need to be ready. We are going to get prepared and we will be. What will we do when we play Boise State? Will we fold and let them run up the score, or will we compete?" Well, Romney Stadium was lit, and the Aggies did compete. And they lost by 31 points.
Now that we’ve sifted through all that, where do things sit? Boise State remains No. 6 in all the polls, including the BCS standings. The Broncos need help from Oklahoma if they’re to have any chance at an at-large BCS bowl berth; the Sooners will have to knock off Oklahoma State. Wouldn’t you know it—the national media have thrown another school into the picture, saying Virginia Tech has positioned itself for a BCS bid. But all this is moot if BSU doesn’t take care of the most important business of the season Friday night. It’s worked out the way ESPN had hoped: Boise State and the rampaging Nevada Wolf Pack in a monster mash on the blue turf to decide the WAC title.
Nevada had a nice little tuneup for this Friday’s showdown. The Wolf Pack destroyed New Mexico State Saturday night, 63-20, and it wasn’t that close. The Pack rushed for a school-record 574 yards and again had three players go over 100 yards (the usual culprits, Vai Taua, Luke Lippincott and Colin Kaepernick). Lippincott went over a thousand yards on the season, joining Taua and Kaepernick to make Nevada the first team in NCAA history with three 1,000-yard rushers in a single season. The Wolf Pack, owner of an eight-game winning streak, its longest in 18 years, is already calling the game on the blue turf “the championship game,” and rightfully so. Nevada is 7-0 in the WAC, and this is the Wolf Pack’s final game of the regular season. If the visitors win, it’s over.
Would that have been a perfect Saturday afternoon game or what? Instead, Eagle beat Capital 22-21 Friday night in one of the most compelling 5A championship games of all-time. The crowd was good—but, of course, a lot of people missed it who would otherwise have tried to be there due to the competing event on ESPN2. It was a heartbreaking end to what had been an 11-0 season going in for Capital. But how about the jobs Todd Simis and Paul Peterson have done with the Eagles and Mustangs since coming over from Boise and Borah, respectively.
The Idaho Steelheads have lost three games this fall—and after each one, they’ve stepped up their level of play to right the ship. So it was over the weekend in back-to-back victories over Victoria in Qwest Arena. The Steelheads always seem to wipe the slate clean this season. Of course, Saturday’s game was a close call. The Steelies took it into overtime before Brandan Kushniruk knocked in a rebound 2½ minutes into the extra frame. It was Richard Bachman who notched both wins in goal for the Steelies, getting his first professional shut out Friday night. Bachman now leads the ECHL in victories with eight.
It’s the time of year when Boise State football entirely overshadows BSU basketball. The Bronco men had to look at that as a good thing over the weekend. Maybe their 87-61 trashing at Wyoming flew under the radar. The Broncos were embarrassed in Laramie, shooting only 29 percent and going 1-for-12 from three-point range in the first half against the Cowboys. That improved only slightly after the intermission, while BSU’s performance on the defensive end did not. We’ll see what kind of a turning point this is in the long run. The Broncos play at Eastern Washington tomorrow night.
A couple other hoops things: the popular Duane Wolfe Memorial Golden Rule Shootout was won in tandem by Lewis-Clark State and Westminster, with two victories apiece. Both team beat the host Coyotes, who fall to 1-2. And the Idaho Stampede get an exhibition game tonight against Utah in Burley to help them make final roster decisions—the Stamps have to be down to 10 players for Opening Night this Saturday. This will be the third straight year the Stampede have played a preseason game in the Magic Valley.
This Day In Sports…November 23, 1984, 25 years ago today:
The most famous Hail-Mary of all-time. Boston College had six seconds left, trailing Miami by four at the Orange Bowl. On the final play of the game, Doug Flutie scrambled and launched a prayer from his own 37-yard-line. The ball somehow dropped into the arms of Gerard Phelan in the end zone, and BC won, 47-45.
(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.)