Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Knowing what we know now, it’s hard to believe the ramp-up to last year’s Boise State-San Diego State game. It was a lot about the burgeoning rivalry between the two schools, since they were going to be the only two Western outposts in the Big East beginning in 2013. The Broncos and Aztecs were designated as rivalry partners by the conference. This for a series that dated all the way back to…2011. Boise State and SDSU—still Mountain West schools—are rivals for a different reason this time as their pivotal game approaches Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium. The Aztecs really knew how to get the adrenalin going for this thing when they came to Boise last November and became only the second team since 2001 to beat the Broncos in a regular season game on the blue turf. That’s the organic way to spawn a rivalry.
The Boise State defense has been acquainting itself with another new San Diego State quarterback. A year ago the Broncos expected to see someone semi-familiar, former Oregon State QB Ryan Katz, until his season was ended two weeks before the trip to Bronco Stadium. Adam Dingwell started against Boise State and managed the 21-19 upset reasonably well, although he threw for only 105 yards. Thing is, 25 of them came on a throw to Gavin Escobar that earned the Aztecs a back-breaking first down on their final drive. Well, Dingwell didn’t manage so well in the first two games of this season and was benched in favor of a walk-on, Quinn Kaehler. Despite average statistics, Kaehler has managed the San Diego State offense to six wins in the last seven games. He’ll be awarded a scholarship in January.
If it comes down to a field goal Saturday night, whose chances do you like? The past couple of years you may have been tempted to say San Diego State, but Boise State’s Dan Goodale has since changed that paradigm. The junior from Timberline High connected on a 47-yard field goal in the win over Wyoming, the Broncos’ longest in three years. And coach Chris Petersen was quick to point out Goodale didn’t hit the ball cleanly like he usually does, hence the drama when the ball whisked over the crossbar. Goodale has made 12 straight field goals.
The Aztecs’ kicking woes this season are similar to those of the Broncos in 2011, and Goodale was smack in the middle of that adventure. SDSU’s Seamus McMorrow made all four kicks he attempted last week at Hawaii. They were all extra points, but that’s news. McMorrow replaced an even more ineffective Wes Feer earlier this season and has missed all four of his field goal attempts. Included was a 37-yarder that would have won the game against Fresno State on the last play of regulation last month. The agony has inspired San Diego State coach Rocky Long to go for it on fourth down early and often. The Aztecs have attempted to convert 27 fourth downs this season. That’s a lot. They’ve been successful on 12.
Only one of Boise State’s four all-time NFL first-round draft picks has been playing recently, and the one who is isn’t making much of an impact. Kyle Wilson had just one tackle for the Jets in the 37-14 beatdown handed them last Sunday by the Buffalo Bills. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin and Denver’s Ryan Clady are both out for the season (and Clady’s replacement at left tackle, Chris Clark, had a huge game protecting Peyton Manning in the Broncos win last Sunday night over previously-undefeated Kansas City). Finally there’s Shea McClellin, who was held out for a second straight game by Chicago last Sunday due to a hamstring problem. However, McClellin returned to practice yesterday and is set to return to action on Sunday against St. Louis.
Leon Rice begins his second 100 as Boise State head basketball coach Saturday morning when the Broncos face their first road test of the season at New Orleans. The game against Seattle Tuesday night was Rice’s 100th, and the victory over the Redhawks gave him a 59-41 record—the most wins by a Bronco head coach in his first 100 games since Boise State joined Division I in 1970. He appears to have his best team yet as season No. 4 cranks up. The Broncos are 3-0 and are averaging 104 points per game.
Jason Ellis has indeed made the Idaho Stampede roster for 2013-14. The former Boise State standout enters his sixth season with the Stampede, more than any other player in franchise history. Idaho released guard Christian Kabongo and forward Tracy Smith yesterday to get its roster to the required 10 as Opening Night hits tomorrow against the Bakersfield Jam in CenturyLink Arena. At first glance the Stamps appear to be improved defensively, especially at the guard position. They’re not particularly tall inside, but they’re thick, led by 6-8, 260-pound Dallas Lauderdale out of Ohio State. Lauderdale missed all of last season with ankle problems.
The Idaho Steelheads won again last night, besting Utah 2-1 in a grinder at CenturyLink Arena. Having Josh Robinson back between the pipes sure helps. In his first appearance in Boise since Opening Night, Robinson recorded 25 saves to nab his third consective win and fourth of the season. It was tense well into the third period, though. Ryan Button broke a 1-1 tie with one second left in a 5-on-3 power play with 9½ minutes left in the game, and the goal held up. Idaho’s Mitch Wahl contributed a pair of assists against his former team. Tomorrow night the Steelheads go back to San Francisco; then they’re in Stockton Saturday and Sunday.
Longtime Treasure Valley teaching pro Jim Empey remains tied for 57th after the second round at the final stage of Champions Tour Q-School at TPC Scottsdale. Only the top 5 earn cards for the Champions Tour next season, but Empey is acquitting himself well. He shot a one-under 70 yesterday and is even for the tournament. The former USC head golf coach has lived in Boise since 1997.
Idaho State has one last chance to get that elusive fourth victory of the season, and they have a legit shot at it Saturday when they close the 2013 campaign at Weber State. The Wildcats are winless in the Big Sky and 1-10 overall (ISU is 3-8). A win by the Bengals would be a breakthrough in more ways than one. Weber State leads the overall series 38-14. The Wildcats have won the last 10 meetings, with the last ISU victory coming in 2002. And the last time Idaho State won in Ogden was—get this—November 3, 1984.
This Day In Sports…November 21, 1998, 15 years ago today:
Bronco Stadium’s first crowd of 30,000-plus gathers for the 28th meeting between Boise State and Idaho, and it stays until the end—and beyond. The wild offensive affair went into overtime, where both teams scored touchdowns. After Idaho’s TD, Vandal coach Chris Tormey called timeout and then rushed his offense back on the field for an all-or-nothing two point conversion. Joel Thomas scampered into the corner of the end zone, giving Idaho a 36-35 win. It would be the Vandals’ last win in the rivalry, as the Boise State streak stands at 12. The Broncos would go on to win their next 47 conference games on the blue turf, with the streak ending in a 36-35 loss to TCU in 2011.
(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.)