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Worry ye not about the fire in the Bronco belly

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on November 16, 2009 at 8:26 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 16 at 10:21 AM


Monday, November 16, 2009.
There was a theory that Boise State was just quietly laying in the weeds last week, absorbing Robb Akey’s brashness and the widespread smirks about the 32-point spread, conserving energy to unleash Saturday. That theory happened to be true, with the well-prepared and ready-to-play Broncos dropping a 63-25 rout on Idaho at Bronco Stadium. Akey’s quote about taking care of business to keep Boise State from going to a BCS bowl and ruining a BCS payday for the WAC was indeed bulletin board material—it ended up on Boise State’s locker room wall. And it did motivate the Broncos. They unleashed an inspired effort from the get-go and ended the game early, producing the fourth-largest margin of victory in what is now an 11-game winning streak over their rivals.
The record book was opened early and often Saturday. As Austin Pettis recorded touchdown catches No. 11, 12, 13 and 14, there went the 35-year-old school single season record. Pettis also tied the BSU single-game mark with the four TD receptions—that was last done by Rodney Smith back in 1998. And, with four games left in his junior year, Pettis is one touchdown catch away from Don Hutt’s 36-year-old career record of 30. Titus Young’s 100-yard kickoff return tied the school record held by John Broadus, but technically it was a lot longer than the one by Broadus, which started on the goal line in the Kibbie Dome in 1981. Young, of course, was seven yards deep Saturday. And this isn’t official, but how can Boise State’s turnover margin of plus-seven for the day not be a record for the Bronco-Vandal series?
Do not discount the importance of having Idahoans on your side in the Bronco-Vandal game. Boise State had 11 players from the state on its two-deep, and Idaho had none—and at least seven of the homegrown Broncos made significant contributions in the rout. On defense it ranged from Marsing’s Shea McClellin with six tackles and a sack, to Blackfoot’s J.C. Percy making seven stops, to Lake City’s Byron Hout’s forced fumble and recovery of said fumble. On offense you had Mountain View’s Tyler Shoemaker with four catches for 48 yards and Capital’s Kyle Efaw scoring his first career touchdown—on a pass from Skyview’s Matt Kaiserman. And on special teams, Meridian’s Kyle Brotzman added one of his classic punts that went 68 yards to the Vandal 10-yard-line. State representatives for a day.
All the pregame talk of Idaho’s DeMaundray Woolridge was not idle chatter, as the senior transfer from Washington State ran roughshod over Boise State much of the day Saturday. Woolridge rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a WAC-leading 16 TDs on the year. Unfortunately for the Vandals, he was virtually their only offensive weapon against the Broncos, who forced those seven turnovers. Idaho did amass 514 yards, but 176 of them came in the fourth quarter when its starters were still in the game against the BSU reserves.
I mentioned Boise State’s winning season syndrome when another was clinched a couple weeks ago. Now, at 10-0, the Broncos have recorded the 17th 10-win season in their 42-year history as a four-year school. That means BSU has won 10 games or more an amazing 40 percent of the time. The Broncos have also done it four years in a row for the first time—and nine times in 11 seasons since the Golden Era began in 1999. 
Nothing happened immediately above Boise State in the rankings over the weekend, and nothing happened immediately below the Broncos. So, nothing happened to them in the new polls released yesterday. BSU is No. 6 any way you slice it, including the BCS standings. Now that TCU has destroyed Utah, 55-28, it would take a downright shocking upset for the Horned Frogs not to get the BCS bid that goes to the highest-ranked mid-major. What did happen was a loss by USC—a devastating one at the hands of Stanford—which opens the door a little wider for the possibility of an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. Should the Broncos win out, of course.
On that note, you can officially place Nevada in the category of “obstacle” in Boise State’s bid for an undefeated regular season. The Wolf Pack manhandled Fresno State in the WAC’s other Game of the Week Saturday, 52-14, topping the 400-yard mark in rushing yet again. The Pack, who comes to Bronco Stadium for ESPN2’s feature game the night after Thanksgiving, has won seven in a row—and has outscored opponents by an average of 50-23 during that stretch. Elsewhere, Utah State warmed up for its ESPN2 date with Boise State by suffocating San Jose State, 24-9, with Robert Turbin rushing for a career-high 190 yards and the Spartans’ Dick Tomey planning to retire. Hawaii cruised by offense-less New Mexico State, 24-6, and Louisiana Tech played LSU even closer on the road than it did the Broncos at home the previous week, falling 24-16.
Opening weekend went about as expected for Boise State men’s basketball—at least in terms of record. The Broncos went 2-1 at a round-robin tournament in Missoula after beating Loyola Marymount Friday, losing to Montana Saturday, and rolling past North Dakota yesterday. BSU had more trouble than expected in topping LMU 90-87, then were frustrated in the 95-82 loss to the Grizzlies before bouncing back with Paul Noonan’s three-point barrage to tame the Fighting Sioux, 75-60. Noonan canned six treys yesterday and scored 23 points. The Broncos are off now until a trip to Wyoming this Saturday night.
The weekend was an entirely successful one for the Idaho Steelheads, as most of them have been during the early part of this season. The Steelheads swept Stockton in a three-game set on the road, capped by a 3-1 win last night. Evan Barlow continues to be on a tear. The 24-year-old left wing has 14 points in 14 games this season after collecting three goals and an assist in the series. Barlow’s power play goal midway through the second period last night was the ultimate game-winner, pushing Idaho’s red-hot start to 11-2-1. The Steelies finally get an extended stay at home this week when the Victoria Salmon Kings come to Qwest Arena for games Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Back to football: former Fruitland Grizzly Jordan Gross is done for the year with the Carolina Panthers. Gross broke his right ankle yesterday in the Panthers’ 28-19 win over Atlanta. The Pro Bowl left tackle, a first round draft pick out of Utah in 2003, was in the midst of another outstanding season. "It hurts, not only for the football player, but the man," Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said of Gross's injury in the Charlotte Observer. "Jordan is special; he's a leader."
This Day In Sports…November 16, 1996:
In one of the most emotional games in Boise State history, cancer-stricken Pokey Allen returns to the sidelines to lead the Broncos against New Mexico State in Las Cruces. BSU was struggling with a school record eight-game losing streak, but three Tony Hilde-to-Ryan Ikebe touchdown passes—the last with less than a minute left—gave Pokey his first and only victory as a Division I-A football coach. The cancer would claim his life a month and a half later.
(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.)