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Boise State football: The McBride of Frankenstein

That’s a Halloween-themed headline. But the football facts are clear: Boise State will face perhaps the best tight end in the nation Saturday at Colorado State.
Credit: David Zalubowski/AP Photo
Colorado State’s Trey McBride avoids Boise State’s Jalen Walker after a catch during an NCAA game Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in Fort Collins, Colo. Boise State won 31-24.

BOISE, Idaho — Friday, October 29, 2021.

In recent years, Colorado State has trotted out some excellent wide receivers. Michael Gallup, now a Dallas Cowboy, and Rashard Higgins, now a Cleveland Brown, come to mind. But they were drafted in the third and fifth rounds, respectively. Now the featured Ram is a tight end, and he’s being touted as a first-rounder next year. Trey McBride could have rumbled off to the NFL after the 2020 season, which saw the Rams play only four games. And McBride briefly entered the transfer portal last year during the summer. But he elected to stay with CSU each time, and he could be an eve of Halloween nightmare for Boise State on Saturday, as he already has a whopping 55 catches this season, tops in the country among tight ends.

McBride almost single-handedly kept the Rams in the game two years ago in Fort Collins, making nine catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in the 31-24 Boise State win. He had four catches for 48 yards on the blue turf last year. But he has never beaten the Broncos, nor has anyone else who has ever worn a Colorado State football uniform. To do it this time, McBride and his teammates must have their minds right. I was struck by the scene at the end of the Utah State game last week after CSU mismanaged its field goal attempt in the final seconds. There was a shot of McBride heading off the field, and he was particularly devastated.

THE BYE WEEK EFFECT

The past, for the most part, has no bearing on the present in football. But it does give us all some talking points. Boise State is 13-1 in games after bye weeks since joining the Mountain West in 2011. But it’s the one loss that’s cringeworthy. It was to New Mexico on the blue turf in 2015, the 31-24 defeat after the Lobos came in as 30.5-point underdogs. This is the deepest into the season the Broncos have gone before taking a bye — since, um, that game in 2015. This is slightly more relevant: Boise State has won 12 straight conference road games dating back to a loss at Fresno State in 2017. (The Broncos won the Mountain West championship game over the Bulldogs the following week.)

THE SACK SWEEPSTAKES

The Boise State offensive line will be tasked with helping get some semblance of a running game going at Colorado State. But protecting Hank Bachmeier will just as big an issue. CSU is third in the nation with 29 sacks this year and prides itself on being physical up front. The Broncos are middle-of-the-pack nationally this season, having allowed 16 sacks. On the other side of the ball, Boise State will try to keep up. Scott Matlock and Isaiah Bagnah have had solid seasons, but it’ll take a village. Matlock is tied for 11th nationally with six sacks this year. Bagnah has racked up five sacks. Theoretically, CSU quarterback Todd Centeio will be tougher to corral than Bachmeier. Centeio has netted 264 yards on the ground this season.

WHO IS BOISE STATE’S BIG 12 COMPETITION?

Athletic director Jeramiah Dickey is rightfully positioning Boise State the best he can for a possible Big 12 invitation someday. The Broncos and Memphis have been prominently mentioned for 13th and 14th spots in the conference, should it choose to expand again. But there is competition out there. According to Sam Kahn Jr. at The Athletic, it’s SMU. The 19th-ranked Mustangs are undefeated and headed for a showdown at Houston Saturday, and a win certainly can’t hurt their cause. Some thoughts from Kahn: “SMU’s location is a double-edged sword. Dallas is one of the largest cities and media markets out there, but the Big 12 already has four Texas schools. SMU has shown itself to be willing to compete financially, though. Its athletic budget is around $70 million.” That’s considerably more than Boise State’s.

BIG SKY IN-STATE

Idaho is coming off a 34-14 loss to Montana, but Saturday’s foe in the Kibbie Dome, Northern Arizona, is trying to rebound from a more problematic game. NAU was whitewashed 44-0 at Sacramento State, managing only 226 yards of total offense. The Lumberjacks will not be fish out of water in Moscow, though, as NAU coach Chris Ball is no stranger to the Palouse. Ball had three separate stints as an assistant at Washington State. Meanwhile, Idaho State hosts Weber State Saturday in Holt Arena. At 1-6, ISU already has a losing season on the books. The Bengals have lost seven consecutive games to the Wildcats.

COLLEGE HOOPS BEGIN

While the 25th-ranked College of Idaho football team is out of town for its pivotal game at Southern Oregon, the Coyotes men’s basketball squad will occupy campus with its first matchups of the 2021-22 season. The Coyotes open the 35th annual Taco Bell Shoot-Out this afternoon against Rocky Mountain College before taking on Park-Gilbert Saturday night in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. The Yotes are coming off a shortened (and very strange) 2020-21 season in which they posted an 8-9 record. Eight of the losses came against either Division I competition or ranked NAIA opponents. Of 30 counting games on the C of I schedule this season, only one is versus a non-NAIA foe (rival Northwest Nazarene next month).

FIRST STEELIES STAT CHECK

Nine different Idaho Steelheads have scored goals during the team’s 2-1 start. That’s pretty amazing considering the Utah Grizzlies shut them out in the one loss. What’s more, captain A.J. White already has four tallies (helped by his first career hat trick on Opening Night), and Luc Brown and Zack Andusiak have two each. Adam Scheel and Matt Jurusik split the starts against Utah, with Scheel taking the lone loss. The 4-0 final in last Sunday’s game was a little deceiving, though, as the Grizzlies tacked on two empty-net goals in the final 2½ minutes. The Steelheads are back in Idaho Central Arena for games against Rapid City tonight and Saturday night.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…October 29, 2016, five years ago today:

Wyoming beats Boise State for the first time ever in the strangest way possible, on a safety when a sack of quarterback Brett Rypien forced a fumble that rolled out of the back of the end zone. Earlier in the fourth quarter, Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen had tied the game with an amazing 27-yard across-the-body rifle shot to Tanner Gentry (plus a two-point conversion throw). The 30-28 loss was the first of the season after seven wins for the 13th-ranked Broncos and snapped a nine-game winning streak dating back to the previous season.

(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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