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Boise State football: Every schedule has its quirks

The Mountain West football schedule was revealed over three weeks later than it was last year. Did the conference need time for some creativity?
Credit: Steve Conner
Boise State's Avery Williams leads the Broncos on to the field with the Dan Paul Hammer for an NCAA game against New Mexico Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 42-9.

BOISE, Idaho — Friday, February 28, 2020.

The 2020 Mountain West football schedule was released Thursday.  Is the conference playing some kind of cruel joke on Boise State?  The league knew the Broncos were opening against an option team, Georgia Southern, on September 5.  So how about we plug a road game at Air Force in there the following week?  Not that I’m going “conspiracy theory” here.  Boise State can spend all summer preparing for the triple option.  Then there’s this: coming off the game versus the Falcons is the home date with Florida State on September 19.  Will the words “battle-tested” mean anything?  September’s going to be a monster month.  It ends with a road trip to Marshall, a team that will be all lathered up for the Broncos after falling just 14-7 at Albertsons Stadium last year.

RELATED: Boise State to play seven home games at Albertsons Stadium

Boise State is home for three of its four games in October, with a bye week wedged in.  The highlight is rival Utah State on October 17 coming out of the bye.  Will the Aggies’ new quarterback, be it Henry Colombi or whomever, be settled in by then?  There’s only one Friday night game so far this season: on Friday, November 6, against BYU.  That will compete with high school playoff games, but the preps have Fridays to themselves the rest of the fall.  The Broncos “get” to go to Wyoming November 21.  The last time they were in Laramie in November, in 2014, the box score says 35 degrees and 20 mile-per-hour wind.  (I seem to remember it snowed at some point.)  The consolation prize is Senior Day, which will actually be on the final day of the regular season on Thanksgiving weekend against Colorado State.

SPRING FOOTBALL’S ABOUT TO BE SPRUNG

Thursday was a big day for football news.  Boise State is going to start spring ball in a new way this year—with the first practice open to fans, complete with a meet-and-greet and photo ops—a week from tonight on the blue turf.  That’s when, among other things, the defensive line sweepstakes will begin as the Broncos replace Curtis Weaver, David Moa, Sonatane Lui and Chase Hatada.  Here’s a wild card at tackle: Jackson Cravens, the sophomore transfer from Utah.  Cravens is the mystery man.  He was injured his senior season in high school in Provo and played in only one game with the Utes in 2018.  The spring practice schedule follows the blueprint of recent years, with two weeks of drills before spring break and two weeks following.  The Spring Game is set for Saturday afternoon, April 11.

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PIERCE IN THE TRANSFER PORTAL

Injury-plagued D’Andre Pierce has decided to go the graduate transfer route after four years at Boise State (he’s no longer on the team roster).  Speculation on Pierce’s destination centers on Arizona State, and why wouldn’t it be?  Pierce’s dad Antonio, the former NFL linebacker, is the co-defensive coordinator for the Sun Devils.  As great a leader and playmaker as the younger Pierce is, the Broncos have had to mostly get by without him the past two seasons, as he was able to play in only nine games.  He logged 144 tackles, seven for loss, and an interception during his Boise State career.

HIGHTOWER HIGH-TAILS IT IN INDY

At the NFL Combine Thursday, John Hightower hit that extra gear we saw so many times at Boise State the last two seasons.  Hightower clocked in at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, tying for third among a deep group of wide receivers.  Former Broncos offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland and John Molchon were tested in the bench press yesterday.  Cleveland garnered some attention with 30 reps, while Molchon put up 26.

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THE LONG-AWAITED DIAMOND DEBUT

The pomp and circumstance will begin at 6 p.m. tonight at Memorial Stadium as the Boise State baseball program plays its first home game in 40 years.  A slew of baseball alumni will be introduced, including former WAC commissioner Karl Benson, who was a Bronco infielder under the legendary Lyle Smith in 1973-74 (Smith continued to coach baseball at Boise State after retiring as football coach).  The opponent for the four-game series this weekend is Northern Colorado, which comes in at 2-5 after being swept at New Mexico last week.  The Broncos, of course, are looking for their first victory after a sweep at the hands of Texas in their grand return to the diamond.

YOTES CAN TASTE THE TROPHY

College of Idaho hopes to extend its school-record winning streak to 23 games Saturday night when it hosts Eastern Oregon in the semifinals of the Cascade Conference Tournament in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.  The Coyotes, ranked No. 1 in NAIA Division II, swept the Mountaineers during the regular season.  But, of course—the Yotes won all 20 games on the league schedule this winter.  If they top Eastern, they’ll host the conference championship game next Tuesday night, with the NAIA Division II Tournament on the docket the following week.  Elsewhere, Northwest Nazarene closes the regular season at Saint Martin’s Saturday night after a tough 72-70 Thursday loss at Seattle Pacific, while the Boise State men and women have the Saturday bye in the Mountain West.

STEELIES PASS NAAS TO KALAMAZOO

Idaho Steelheads coach Everett Sheen is doing what he feels he has to do as his club goes into a pair of games against Utah this weekend in CenturyLink Arena.  Forward Spencer Naas has become familiar to Boise fans the past two seasons, but on Thursday the team traded him to the Kalamazoo Wings in exchange for the ECHL rights to forward Yannick Veilleux.  Naas played 46 games for the Steelies this season, contributing eight goals and eight assists.  Idaho beat the Grizzlies 4-3 Wednesday night, but the Steelheads only gained a point on Utah in the standings, since it was in a shootout.  The Grizzlies still hold a four-point lead over the Steelies in the race for second place in the ECHL Mountain Division. 

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…February 28, 2010, 10 years ago today: 

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are capped by the biggest moment in Canadian sports history, as Canada beats the U.S. for the men’s hockey gold medal, 3-2 in overtime.  The Americans had defeated their northern neighbors (and in some cases, NHL teammates) 5-3 in the preliminary round.  The Canadians looked like they had the gold wrapped up in regulation in the final until the U.S. tied the game at 2-2 with just 24 seconds left.  But Sidney Crosby, the biggest of Canadian hockey stars, tallied just over 7½ minutes into the overtime period to set off a massive celebration inside the arena, outside on the streets of Vancouver, and across all of Canada.

(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.) 

RELATED: Boise State to play seven home games at Albertsons Stadium