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Boise State football: It comes down to this again?

It’s like putting that old CD player on repeat. Boise State’s chances of fending off Colorado State Saturday may hinge on its running game performance.
Credit: Steve Conner/AP Photo
Boise State running back George Holani, right, runs with the ball as Nevada defensive back JoJuan Claiborne (8) closes in for a tackle-attempt in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, October 28, 2021.

It’s hard to sweep this under the rug: Boise State needs to run the ball at Colorado State Saturday. And rushing has obviously not been the Broncos’ forte this year.

Which running backs will give it a try in Fort Collins?

George Holani has missed the past 2½ games with the injury he suffered in the first half against Nevada, and Cyrus Habibi-Likio has been out since midway through the BYU game. There’s been no timetable on their return, but they’ve had a bye week to help them heal, so you never know. CSU, by the way, is very good against the run. With one of the best front sevens in the Mountain West, the Rams are allowing an even 100 yards per game and just 2.8 yards per carry.

THE SECOND WAVE

Boise State running backs coach Winston Venable mentioned Andrew Van Buren Tuesday as a guy he can win with. And Venable hinted that Taequon Tyler will be in the rotation at CSU. Tyler has carried the ball eight times this season — five in mop-up versus UTEP and three in prime time against Air Force. I’m interested to see how Tyler Crowe comes out of the bye week. The sophomore from Skyview did not have a carry against Air Force, but maybe things are hunky-dory now after everybody’s had a chance to recharge. Crowe leads the running backs in yards per carry at 5.8.

THE THIRD WAVE?

One guy I’d like to mention is Danny Smith. You’d think the transfer portal is tempting for Smith, now that he’s a junior. But he appears to be a really committed Bronco, having just been honored as one of Boise State football’s Student Athletes of the Week. Smith had three carries at the end of the UTEP game in September, and that’s it for 2021 so far. He has 23 rushing attempts in his three-year Broncos career, but he’s still grinding.

A TWO-WAY STREET

This is not new, either. Boise State needs to stop the run against Colorado State, something it has rarely done this season. The Broncos are allowing 196 or 198 yards a game rushing this season (depending on whose stats you refer to). Either way, that’s second-to-last in the Mountain West. The Rams offense is averaging 172 on the ground. Leading rusher David Bailey, a transfer from Boston College, is fifth in the conference with 478 yards, almost as many as Boise State’s top three rushers combined. And it’s hard to judge those numbers. For example, Nevada is last in the league in rushing at 80 yards per game, but the Wolf Pack netted 130 total rushing yards and 4.3 yards per carry on the Broncos.

BULLDOGS-AZTECS & OTHER NUGGETS

There is one game of particular significance this week in the Mountain West, to be sure. Fresno State is at San Diego State, or least in the general vicinity, as the teams will play Saturday night in Carson, California. The Bulldogs got some separation from Nevada with their 34-32 win over the Wolf Pack last week. Now they’re looking up at the Aztecs, who are 7-0 for the first time since 1975 and ranked 21st in the AP Poll. San Diego State is one of just nine undefeated FBS programs left nationally. Also, Nevada and UNLV play for the Fremont Cannon Friday night. And Wyoming thought it missed quarterback Sean Chambers terribly last year after he was injured in the opener. Now the Cowboys have benched the struggling Chambers in favor of Levi Williams for Saturday’s game at San Jose State.

YOTES CLOSING IN

College of Idaho has lost two games this season, but both of those were at Simplot Stadium. The Coyotes are 3-0 on the road, and that’s where they’ll be Saturday when they take on Southern Oregon. With a victory, the Yotes will clinch a fifth straight winning season. One position to watch in the SOU game will be running back, as star senior Nick Calzaretta had to leave last week’s 48-42 double-overtime win over Montana Western with an injury after scoring three touchdowns. Allamar Alexander, the Columbia High grad and Boise State transfer, came on to rush for 35 yards on eight carries, including his first two collegiate TDs. The second one was the game-winner in the second OT.

MOUNTAIN WEST COACHES POLL TALK

Here are your Mountain West point-getters in the men’s basketball Preseason Coaches Poll on Wednesday: Colorado State 5, Boise State 1, Nevada 1. Hmm, anyone missing? The coaches who vote (or whoever votes for them) aren’t paying attention if they aren’t considering San Diego State. At any rate, there’s one coach (or ghost voter) who apparently has some expectations for the Broncos. Despite a loaded roster last season, Boise State did not have a vote in either preseason poll a year ago. Of course, after running out of steam down the stretch, the Broncos didn’t have any postseason votes, either. The challenge this year is to overachieve, not underachieve.

BURTIE IS BACK IN TOWN

The Idaho Steelheads have played 65 games all-time against the Rapid City Rush, who visit Idaho Central Arena Friday and Saturday. It’s not really a rivalry, but this weekend’s series has some extra juice. Scott Burt will be back in Boise as the head coach of the Rush—he was Everett Sheen’s assistant with the Steelheads in 2019-20. Burt was one of the most popular Steelies in franchise history, logging 403 games with the organization over seven seasons from 2000-07. He tallied 250 points (111 goals, 139 assists) while helping Idaho win two Kelly Cup Championships.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…October 28, 1981, 40 years ago today:

Once down two games-to-none to the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers storm back to win their fourth straight game and claim the World Series. The Dodgers’ Pedro Guerrero stung the Yanks with a home run and five runs batted in during the 9-2 romp. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner then stung his own troops, issuing a public apology for his team’s play in the Series. It was the culmination of a tumultuous season that was shut down from June 12 to August 8 by a players’ strike.

 (Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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