Sunday, Nov 3 at 6:09 PM
Friday, November 5, 2010.
Funny thing, there’s a game in Salt Lake City that starts exactly the same time as the Boise State-Hawaii game tomorrow. But Bronco Stadium is not a baseball park. It doesn’t have a wall of scores from other games for fans (and players and coaches) to check out. And if it did, coaches would probably nail plywood over the TCU-Utah panel. Not that the Broncos have to be told to pay no attention to that. They’ve done a tremendous job all season of focusing on the here-and-now. And, the Warriors are here, and they’re certainly now, 5-0 in the WAC with a six-game winning streak. The 2010 WAC race will be over just like that if Hawaii pulls the upset tomorrow.
Now that we have the hype rolling today, let’s consider the challenges Hawaii faces on the blue turf. Just the karma of the thing. The Broncos have won 30 straight home games since the loss to Boston College in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl. They have a 59-game regular season home streak going. Boise State has never lost a WAC game in Bronco Stadium, and it hasn’t lost a conference game on the blue since 1998 (43 in a row), going back to the Big West days. Overall, the Broncos tomorrow can tie their school-record winning streak of 22 games set in 2003-04.
This is so far down Boise State’s priority list tomorrow, it’s ridiculous. But let’s say Austin Pettis’ second catch of the day is Kellen Moore’s first touchdown pass. That would mean two of the Broncos’ most coveted career records would fall on the same play. Pettis needs two receptions to pass Don Hutt’s record of 189 catches set 37 years ago. Moore needs one TD throw to snap Ryan Dinwiddie’s seven-year-old Boise State career record of 82. It was ironic last week against Louisiana Tech when the tables turned on the Broncos’ final touchdown, with Moore catching a six-yard scoring pass from Pettis.
There’s a couple good sidebars on special teams tomorrow. Hawaii’s special teams coach is Chris Tormey, the former head coach at Idaho and Nevada. Tormey was the one who called the surprise two-point conversion in overtime of the 1998 Boise State-Idaho game, giving the Vandals a 36-35 victory. That’s the last time the Broncos lost a conference home game—and the last time they lost to Idaho. You also have the “Riddler” factor. Boise State’s famous fake punt that helped beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl was born at Aloha Stadium last year, with Kyle Brotzman connecting with Jason Robison for 28 yards and a first down. Trevor Harman is likely to fill in for Brotzman at punter tomorrow. Can Harman throw?
When Hawaii has it going, it’s usually the offense that gets the buzz. Timmy Chang, Colt Brennan, et al. But the Warrior defense has been setting the table all season, with gobs of turnovers. Hawaii has 12 fumble recoveries and 14 interceptions. With 26 takeaways overall, the Warriors rank second in the nation behind Oregon, and they have 21 of them in the past six games. Hawaii put the onus of a sour, bowl-less 2009 season on its performance in the turnover department. UH finished 113th in the FBS last year in turnover margin—this season the Warriors have zoomed up to seventh.
The high temperature November 6 in Boise is supposed to be 52 degrees. The forecast for tomorrow is 68. Way too warm with Hawaii coming to town. Couldn’t Boise State have bottled up a little climate from that Tuesday night game against Louisiana Tech and uncorked it on the Warriors? The good news is, the weather this week didn’t hamper ticket sales, and Bronco Stadium is sold out for what Hawaii is considering its WAC championship game. True story: Boise State played a home game against New Mexico State on November 6, 1999. Fans dressed in layers, because that’s what you do at this time of the year. They were dyin’ by the fourth quarter—the surprise high was 78, the warmest Boise temperature ever recorded in November.
The state’s two FBS athletic directors appeared on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday—separately—to discuss the state’s biggest rivalry. Idaho’s Rob Spear said 2011 was already out for the Vandals, as their schedule is full with North Dakota, Bowling Green, West Virginia, Texas A&M and BYU. “Gene and I will continue to have conversations so we can get this rivalry renewed,” said Spear. “Ideally, we’d love to have a home-and-home. It’s not really a rivalry unless you have a home-and-home series.” But, Spear acknowledged, “Everything is subject to negotiation—we’ll see what happens in those odd years.” Bleymaier didn’t sound too hopeful that there would be any kind of home-and-home arrangement. Bleymaier did say the Broncos will have four Mountain West home games next year: Air Force, San Diego State, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Idaho’s chances of an upset against Nevada tomorrow in the Kibbie Dome hinge largely on its offensive line. The Wolf Pack is going to score points, so if the Vandals want to compete in a track meet, they’ll have to protect Nathan Enderle. That has not been the offensive line’s strong suit this season. The Vandals have not been able to keep opposing defenses out of the backfield, allowing 30 sacks—that’s fifth-worst in the nation. There’s also been trouble in the running game, as Idaho is rushing for only 85 yards a game. That’s also fifth-worst in the country. The Vandals go in as 11½-point underdogs tomorrow.
The Idaho Steelheads were held at bay Wednesday night by Victoria goalie David Shantz. It would stand to reason that the Salmon Kings would start Riley Gill between the pipes tonight. That makes the Steelheads’ prospects more difficult, as Gill was named the ECHL Goaltender of the Month for October. He was 3-0 with one shutout and a goals-against average of 1.33 last month. Meanwhile the Steelheads’ Geoff Irwin would like to leave an impression in Victoria this weekend. The rookie forward has tallied the game-winning goal in both of the Steelies’ victories so far. Victoria is Irwin’s home town.
A couple other Friday notes: the second-ranked Boise State wrestling team opens its 2010-11 season tomorrow in Spokane against North Idaho College. The Broncos return to Bronco Gym for a marquee match with Oregon State November 13. And Rod Jensen looks for his first win since returning to the Treasure Valley this weekend. Jensen, the former Boise State head basketball coach, takes the College of Idaho to the Quinn Classic in LaGrande, facing Walla Walla tonight and Montana Tech tomorrow night.
This Day In Sports…November 5, 1994:
The latest showdown in a series of showdowns for Boise State’s 1994 football team, as All-Big Sky quarterback Dave Dickenson leads top-ranked Montana into Bronco Stadium. A leaping Rashid Gayle interception sets the tone in the first quarter, and BSU defensive end Joe O’Brien leads a sack attack on Dickenson, who leaves the game in the fourth quarter. The Broncos beat the Grizzlies, 38-14, and go on to the Big Sky title and the Division I-AA championship game.
(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.)