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What a way to end the season for New Mexico State

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on December 2, 2009 at 9:03 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 2 at 11:24 AM


Wednesday, December 2, 2009.
Playing for pride takes on a whole new meaning for New Mexico State this week. The Aggies don’t have to go far for bulletin board material for Saturday’s game in Bronco Stadium. That none of it is coming from Boise State is beside the point. How many times can NMSU hear the word “lowly” this week as its opponent targets a BCS bowl game? Almost as many times as it’s pointed out that the Aggies are 46½ point underdogs in this contest. That is a staggering number. But we’re looking at the second-highest scoring team in the country against, well, the lowest. Boise State has 51 more touchdowns than does New Mexico State this season.
Dredging up my trivia answer from Sunday Sports Extra now—yes, New Mexico State has not scored a point on Boise State since the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ 40-28 win in Las Cruces in October, 2006. BSU has registered shutouts of 58-0 and 49-0 the past two seasons. Does that lull the Broncos to sleep this week? Are you kidding? “This game is the most important of their lives,” said coach Chris Petersen, noting that talk of a BCS bowl is now permitted in-house. “At this point I don’t see it as a distraction—I see it as a motivation,” Pete said. “That’s why I think there’s tremendous importance on this game for everything we’ve been through. We need to go out and play really well.”
Kellen Moore’s been bubbling under all season in the Heisman Trophy discussion. But the table is certainly being set for the Boise State quarterback to punch a ticket to New York City next year. Moore has been named one of 10 finalists for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Manning Award that goes to the top FBS quarterback. It’s the only one that gives weight to each candidate’s performance in bowl games. All nine of the other finalists are familiar names: Jimmy Clausen, Andy Dalton, Max Hall, Case Keenum, Dan LeFevour, Ryan Mallett, Colt McCoy, Tony Pike and Tim Tebow.
The Chris Petersen rumblings seem to have settled down a bit at Virginia, which is looking for a replacement for fired head coach Al Groh. The names thrown out yesterday by the Sporting News Today daily online edition included Richmond’s Mike London, currently immersed in the FCS (Division I-AA) Playoffs, Temple’s Al Golden, and Harvard’s Tim Murphy. The Daily Progress in Charlottesville has been trying to link Petersen to the job through Virginia executive associate athletic director Jon Oliver, a Borah High and Boise State graduate and former Bronco basketball player. But Oliver says, while he still loves BSU football, he’s never met Petersen.
There’s an interesting dynamic brewing at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl this month, since Hawaii may not be there—and June Jones will be. SMU, almost at the insistence of June Jones, has accepted a date in Honolulu on Christmas Eve. The former Warriors coach will be leading the Mustangs to their first bowl in 25 years, since before the NCAA’s “death penalty” forced the SMU program to go dormant in 1987 and 1988. To face its former coach and create one of the more intriguing stories of the bowl season, Hawaii will have to beat Wisconsin Saturday night. The Mustangs, at 7-5, have six more wins than last season, the best turnaround in college football this year. Idaho, incidentally, is second in the nation with an increase of five victories.
More hardware for Andrew Woodruff as the 2009 CFL season is in the books. Woodruff, a four-year starter on the Boise State offensive line through last season (with three WAC titles and a Fiesta Bowl ring), was part of Montreal’s Grey Cup championship team. The Alouettes beat Saskatchewan 28-27 last Sunday, getting a second chance with no time on the clock after the RoughRiders were called for too many men on the field. Montreal kicker Damon Duval drilled the ensuing 33-yarder. Elsewhere north of the border, former Bronco offensive lineman Jon Gott played his rookie season with the Calgary Stampeders. Drisan James had 21 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. And Jared Zabransky did not attempt a pass this season as the No. 3 quarterback with the Edmonton Eskimos. 
Two of the past three games played by Boise State did not do BSU any favors if it seriously harbors hopes of getting into the Mountain West Conference. And we’re not talkin’ football here. The Bronco men’s basketball team had a chance to test its mettle on the road against a middle-of-the-pack Mountain West team a week and a half ago, and lost by 26 points at Wyoming. 
And the program had a chance to show it could bring a fan base to the table in men’s basketball, and drew only 2,650 to its home opener in the win over North Texas last Saturday in Taco Bell Arena. Bronco women’s hoops are in great shape with a 7-0 start but could really use quadruple digits at the gate. There’s a constant wringing of hands locally over what it would take for Boise State to get an invitation to the Mountain West. Keep in mind that the league isn’t looking for a one-trick pony.
As Boise State prepares for its marquee game of the season at Illinois Saturday night, the Broncos hope they have found their touch from three-point range. After hitting just 3-of-27 three-pointers combined against Wyoming and Eastern Washington, the Broncos were 7-of-11 from beyond the arc in the 79-73 win over North Texas. On the other hand, BSU longs for the La’Shard Anderson that began this season red-hot. The junior guard went south in last Saturday’s home opener, going 0-for-5 from the field. Anderson had shot just under 50 percent in the Broncos’ first four games, including a 26-point night in the first one versus Loyola Marymount.
It’s homecoming night for Rory White. The former Idaho Stampede coach returns to the Treasure Valley as head man with the Dakota Wizards, taking on the Stamps tonight in Qwest Arena. White had been an assistant with the L.A. Clippers for six seasons before taking the Wizards job in July. He spent three seasons coaching the Idaho franchise at the turn of the century, compiling a 44-58 record. White hung with the Stamps when the CBA went dark due to the mismanagement of Isiah Thomas in early 2001 and came back to the club after it went on hiatus for the 2001-02 season. Dakota comes in at 1-1 tonight, while the Stampede gun for a 3-0 start.
To say that the Idaho Steelheads come home on a roll tomorrow night would be an understatement. The Steelheads are off to the best start in their 13-season history, including all those WCHL years. They’re 16-3-1 and are tops in the ECHL in wins, points and winning percentage as they prepare for a two-game series with the Alaska Aces tomorrow and Friday. Now, the Steelheads will have to circle the wagons to keep the run going, as goaltender Richard Bachman and forwards Mathieu Tousignant and Tyler Spurgeon have all been called up to the AHL. All three have been key components of the quick start. The Steelies do get defenseman Trevor Ludwig back from the AHL’s Texas Stars.
The Steelies are billing this as “Rivalry Week,” since the Aces are one of only two opponents still around since the inception of the Idaho franchise in 1997. The other is the Bakersfield Condors, and matches with Alaska have certainly been more spirited over the years.  Back in ’97, those organizations were known as the Anchorage Aces and the Bakersfield Fog.
This Day In Sports…December 2, 2000:
Capping a bizarre week in which he accepted a job at Oklahoma State and then changed his mind, the rumor mill finally grinds to a halt with Boise State’s Dirk Koetter being introduced as the new head coach at Arizona State. At the same time, assistant head coach Dan Hawkins was announced as Koetter’s replacement at BSU. Koetter led the Broncos to a 26-10 record and two Humanitarian Bowl wins, along with the final two football championships in the history of the Big West Conference.
(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.)