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Boise State football: The blue turf’s loudest night

A 7-6 football game doesn’t typically make for great TV. But the Boise State-BYU game in 2012 went against the grain. It was riveting, and it was noisy.
Credit: Matt Cilley
Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence pressures a throw by BYU’s Taysom Hill during an NCAA game on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 7-6.

BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, May 14, 2020.

The audio person in the ESPN truck had to watch the levels on this night. This week’s “Bronco Throwback” telecast tonight on the Boise State Football Facebook page is the 2012 game against BYU in what was then Bronco Stadium, a 7-6 Boise State win. Until the Hawaii game last October, this one held the Boise State home attendance record at 36,864. And anyone who was there will tell you it was the loudest crowd in stadium history. The game was a little painful, with the Broncos and Cougars combining for just 461 yards of offense. On the other hand, it was great, as this time everyone embraced defense. And fittingly, the game was won on Boise State’s most famous “fat guy touchdown” of all time, a 36-yard pick-six by defensive tackle Mike “Canadian Bacon” Atkinson.

While we’re on the subject, let’s round out what I consider to be the top 5 most vociferous games in Albertsons Stadium history. No. 2 would be the Oregon game in 2009, when the Broncos smothered the Ducks 19-8. With that said, I still think the single loudest moment in the stadium happened when Billy Winn tackled LeGarrette Blount in the end zone for a safety that night. No. 3 on the list is the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, which I talked about last Friday. I have No. 4 as the Fresno State game in 2002, Boise State’s first Orange-Out, accompanied by a 67-21 demolition of the Bulldogs. And No. 5 is the victory over Grambling in the 1980 Division I-AA playoffs. I’m partial to that one.

FLASHBACK TO THE ‘FIDLER FAKE’

We need a social media quiz to get us through the day. I saw this one Wednesday: “Who is the most random ex-college football player that pops into your head?” I played along, and (I swear) the first player that popped into my head was former Boise State linebacker Greg Sasser. He played during some amazingly transformative years for the Broncos, from 1998-2001. A play during his sophomore year in 1999 has always stuck with me. It keyed a 20-9 win on the blue over New Mexico (and, ahem, coach Rocky Long). Boise State faced a fourth down in Lobos territory and was in punt formation. Sasser was the up-man. He took the snap, faked a handoff between his legs, and lurched up to run 39 yards for a touchdown. Coach Dirk Koetter called it the “Fidler Fake” in honor of special teams coach Dan Fidler. There you go.

DERRICK CAN DELAY HIS DECISION

More time for Derrick Alston to decide—and more time for coach Leon Rice to wonder. The NCAA has indefinitely pushed back its deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the NBA Draft. The date had been June 3. Alston, of course, declared for the draft with the option of returning to Boise State. He’s not currently projected to be picked in the draft’s two rounds. Rice says Alston has been participating in team Zoom meeting and home workout programs. No new withdrawal deadline will be set by the NCAA until the NBA reveals its updated draft timeline.

HICKS FOCUSES ON 2021

Rumors that Major League Baseball would slash the number of rounds in its draft this year made Michael Hicks’ decision easy. Hicks elected to return to Boise State to take advantage of a second-chance senior year—and sure enough, the draft was reduced from 40 rounds to five. “(The draft) was definitely my focus at the end of the year,” Hicks told KTVB’s Jay Tust. “Now I’m looking forward to next year here.” Hicks led the Broncos with a .386 batting average in the abbreviated season, which resulted in a surprising 9-5 record. For Hicks, it sure was fun while it lasted. “Winning games at home in front of the great city of Boise,” he said. “I feel we could have definitely ended up in that Mountain West tournament.”

ACCOLADES IN ACADEMIA 

Boise State leads the Mountain West in NCAA Public Recognition Awards for the third straight year. Five Broncos programs earned the honor from the NCAA Tuesday for having multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the top 10 percent of their respective sports nationally. The honored teams include women’s basketball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, women’s golf and gymnastics. This is the first time the women’s hoops program has won a PRA (the other four sports have multiple awards). The full APR report, which will include 2018-19 scores for all teams, will be released by the NCAA next Tuesday.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…May 14, 2017:

The New York Yankees retire the franchise’s final single-digit jersey, as Derek Jeter’s No. 2 joins the legends in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park. Jeter, the team’s longest-tenured captain and one of the most popular Yanks of all time, won five World Series rings during his 20 years in pinstripes. He is the Yankees' career leader in hits with 3,465, games played with 2,747, and stolen bases with 358. Rounding out the single-digits list in the Bronx are Billy Martin (1), Babe Ruth (3), Lou Gehrig (4), Joe DiMaggio (5), Joe Torre (6), Mickey Mantle (7), Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey (8) and Roger Maris (9).

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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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