Thursday, December 6, 2012.
The term “trap game” suggests that the team going into it is superior to the one that might set the trap. It was not a relevant term last night, as Boise State was belted by Utah in Salt Lake City, 76-55. As perfect a game as the Broncos played at Creighton a week ago, last night’s was 180 degrees the other way. The Utes gave the Broncos some of their own medicine, shooting 67.5 percent from the field, Utah’s best mark in almost six years. Through its first seven games this season, Boise State had not trailed an opponent by so much as double figures. Last night, the Broncos were down by almost 20 midway through the first half. You can say Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak put more oomph into this game afer not getting the Boise State job 3½ years ago. Or that the emotion of the salute to the late Rick Majerus took over. Whatever it was, wow.
Boise State hoops was very close to being in the national conversation 24 hours ago, but it’ll take a lengthy win streak to get back there now. Maybe the Broncos were reading their press clippings—and were too young to handle it. The Top 25 votes were nice, perhaps the first in school history (the 1987-88 season is the only other time it could have happened), but now the Broncos have to recharge after absorbing the exact same margin of defeat as they handed the Utes a year ago in Taco Bell Arena. Coach Leon Rice said on the KBOI postgame show it looked like his team was running in sand. “We have to be the hungriest, scrappiest dog in the fight—otherwise we’re in trouble,” he said.
On Tuesday, when it was revealed Bret Bielema was taking the Arkansas job, everyone started googling “Chris Petersen Wisconsin.” A trail of stories finally appeared yesterday—and, of course, Petersen was “set to interview in Madison as early as Monday.” But last night Matt Hayes of the Sporting News threw cold water on the latest rumors, writing, “As crazy as college football’s coaching carousel gets, there’s one thing we can all hold onto: Chris Petersen isn’t leaving Boise State. A source close to Petersen said Wednesday night that Petersen is not interviewing with Wisconsin, despite multiple media reports in the state of Wisconsin.” Next.
Hmmm, Boise State is playing Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. So now the Broncos will finally garner some airtime on Root Sports Northwest—at least until midnight on December 22, right? There’s never been a place for Boise State on Root, dating back to its days as Fox Sports Northwest. It’s a mystery. Just because the Broncos aren’t part of the Northwest Pac-12 consortium? Boise State apparently can’t move the needle on the regional sports network despite being the only team in the country to finish in the BCS Top 25 each of the past seven seasons. C’mon, Angie Mentink. If only for a few weeks.
Quarterback Joe Southwick’s pass efficiency rating has climbed over the 140 mark for the first time this year, thanks to three straight solid games to end the regular season. Petersen was asked what’s different about Southwick now compared to early in the season. “I saw him run for two first downs (at Nevada), and that was different,” quipped Petersen Monday. Southwick took off twice and didn’t slide, putting his head down to move the chains. “It’s just kind of reaction,” said Southwick. “When you’re playing fast, you just go off instincts. And my instincts told me to take off.” Southwick rushed six times for 25 yards against the Wolf Pack and got two more first downs on sneaks.
Boise State hopes Southwick is peaking at the right time. He hasn’t thrown an interception since the loss to San Diego State a month ago. And he hasn’t thrown multiple picks in any game this season. Southwick has only five 200-yard games this season, but it could be eight. He threw for 195 yards at Southern Miss, 198 at Wyoming and 199 at Nevada. Southwick has competed exactly two-thirds of his pass attempts (222-of-333) for 2,466 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Hats off to Northern Illinois for busting the BCS this year, but drawing parallels to Boise State’s first BCS breakthrough six years ago? Don’t like it. This is why comparisons between the Orange Bowl-bound Huskies in 2012 and the Fiesta Bowl-bound Broncos in 2006 amount to apples and oranges (no pun intended). The Huskies are not undefeated—they lost to Iowa, a 4-8 team. They beat a 2-9 Army team by one point. Boise State was 12-0 going into the Fiesta Bowl and had victories of 42-14 over Oregon State and 36-3 at Utah. The Broncos had been ranked all season, had won their fifth straight WAC championship and at that point had gone 76-12 since 1999. They were ready for that BCS stage.
The Salt Lake City media, of course, is all about BYU and Utah. So their perception of this year’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl between Utah State and Toledo is interesting. Writes columnist Gordon Monson in the Salt Lake Tribune: “The choice was mine this time around to cover either USU-Toledo or BYU-San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Let’s see…San Diego in December or Boise? Boise…or San Diego? It was a tomahawk dunk. Potato over Poinsettia, easy.” Monson gives our city a few Chamber of Commerce compliments while ripping the blue turf. He likes the Aggies’ chances a week from Saturday. Toledo played in a lot of close games this season in compiling its 9-3 record, thanks to a shaky defense. Monson points out that Utah State won its 10 games by a total of 233 points and lost its two games by a combined five.
Many thought Austin Pettis should have been drafted ahead of Titus Young out of Boise State in 2011. Maybe it was dependability, maybe it was behavior. But Young went in the second round to Detroit and Pettis in the third to St. Louis. That looked to be justified last year when Young had a good rookie season and Pettis was suspended in December after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Now, wouldn’t Detroit rather have Pettis? Young’s season is over due to a “knee injury” (in intentional quotations), with 33 catches for 383 yards and four touchdowns. The Lions couldn’t get Young out of the locker room fast enough this week. Pettis only has 16 receptions for 144 yards and two TDs, but at least he’s back in the good graces of the Rams.
Idaho Steelheads goaltender Josh Robinson is not flying under the radar. The goalie out of Michigan Tech is the ECHL Rookie of the Month for November. Robinson, who already had an ECHL Goaltender of the Week honor under his belt in October, went undefeated in six November starts with a 2.63 goals-against average and a save percentage of .928. He’s made at least 35 saves in each of his last three starts. The Steelheads play at Las Vegas tomorrow night and at Ontario Saturday and Sunday.
This Day In Sports…December 6, 2009:
Boise State makes history by becoming the first non-BCS school ever to get an at-large berth in a BCS bowl, accepting an invitation to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The sixth-ranked Broncos’ opponent would be fourth-ranked TCU, the team that beat them out for the automatic BCS berth that goes to non-BCS teams. The Horned Frogs had also beaten Boise State the year before in the Poinsettia Bowl, 17-16. The pairing of the two BCS-busters against each other generated a lot of debate around the country.
(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.)