BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, December 10, 2020.
When this compact Mountain West football season was announced in October, I looked at Laramie weather in mid-December to get a handle on the Boise State-Wyoming game. I found that the average high is 34, and the average low is 9. The high isn’t way off from what we’ve had in Boise the past week, but the low is. That’s irrelevant, however. The forecast for Saturday says a 40 percent chance of snow, with a high of 25 and a low of 4. Cowboys fans are rejoicing. Broncos quarterback Hank Bachmeier claims to be ready for it. So, what is the coldest weather Bachmeier has ever experienced in a game? It was the Colorado State game on the blue turf four weeks ago—a kickoff temperature of 39, with light winds. “Hillbilly Hank” has better put on an extra pair of chaps for this one.
RUN, AND STOP THE RUN
Both Boise State and Wyoming expect to have star running backs returning for Saturday’s game. Broncos offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau indicates that George Holani will be back in the lineup for the first time since the twilight hours of Halloween. Holani would add some stretching-of-the-field to the Boise State rushing attack and help sustain drives. The Cowboys look for the Mountain West leader in yards per game, Xazavian Valladay, to be in their backfield versus the Broncos. Even without Valladay, the Cowboys ran wild against New Mexico, with Trey Smith rushing for 154 yards in a 17-16 loss last week. Wyoming’s problem has been the passing game. So look at it this way: if the Broncos can run as well as the Pokes, and they pass better than Wyoming as you think they would, you have to like their chances.
KIESAU ON THE BROYLES BALLOT
If the Broncos do have a big offensive night in them, it would help this guy’s cause. Kiesau is a nominee for the Broyles Award that honors the nation’s top college football assistant coach. Kiesau is one of 56 nominees in this year’s class, selected from approximately 1,270 assistant coaches in the FBS. Kiesau is in his fourth season with the Broncos, and his first as the program’s sole offensive coordinator after serving as co-offensive coordinator in 2019 and as wide receivers coach the past three seasons. He’s also coaching Boise State’s quarterbacks for the first time. That was fun against BYU: no Bachmeier, no Chase Cord, and Jack Sears knocked out of the game in the first quarter, leaving him with true freshmen Cade Fennegan and Andy Peters.
PIVOTAL NIGHT IN PROVO
Boise State started the BYU game last night on a 14-0 run. That couldn’t possibly last, right? Well, it didn’t. But then again, it did. The Broncos maintained a comfortable lead through the first half, but things got very uncomfortable midway through the second. That’s when fouls were piling up on Boise State, and the Cougars’ three-pointers started falling, and BYU caught the Broncos at 48-48 with 10 minutes remaining. Still, the Cougars were not able to take the lead. After they tied it again in the final minute, Emmanuel Akot drained a three-pointer with 13 seconds left to seal it. The Broncos won 74-70, their first victory at the Marriott Center in 24 years. This does not hurt the resume at all.
One thing is clear: Boise State has three starters for the two guard spots. Marcus Shaver Jr. was unable to play as he nurses the foot injury he suffered versus College of Idaho. But Akot and RayJ Dennis were outstanding. Akot put up a career-high 13 points, and Dennis scored 19, equaling the career-high he set in his historic performance against Utah State last season. Dennis was 8-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, and he added five assists—the last one a laser from the baseline to the top of the key for Akot’s winning three.
THE BOISE HAWKS’ GUT PUNCH: HARDLY FATAL
For years, Boise Hawks ownership has harped on the need for a new ballpark, claiming their future depended on it. The Hawks generally got the “little boy who cried wolf” treatment. Now it has come full-circle, as the Hawks have lost the Major League Baseball affiliation they had held for 30 seasons, and the lack of a suitable stadium was a major factor, according to Jeff Eiseman, president of Agon Sports & Entertainment. The team will move to the Pioneer League, which has been dropped from rookie league status and is now independent and includes the Idaho Falls Chukars, Billings Mustangs, Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Missoula Paddleheads, Ogden Raptors, Northern Colorado Owlz and the Rocky Mountain Vibes. “What?” say baseball purists. Understandably so.
But purists make up a fraction of the people who attend Hawks games. The Colorado Rockies haven’t exactly been a pipeline to the majors the past five years, and that’s not why fans go to these games anyway. They go for the entertainment—to spend a summer evening at the ballpark (and even creaky old Memorial Stadium doesn’t discourage them). Eiseman was predictably positive about the Pioneer League Wednesday on Idaho SportsTalk. Now the Hawks won’t be at the mercy of who the Rockies send and can sign their own players—and with the MLB Draft cut in half, there’ll be plenty of good ones available. Which means the Hawks can make winning a priority instead of a side benefit.
AROUND THE HORN IN HOOPS
Idaho and Sacramento State were among four Big Sky teams to get an early start on conference play last weekend. The Vandals played their first games of the season, a pair on the Hornets’ home floor, and lost 77-55 and 73-57. Idaho journeyed next door to Pullman Wednesday night to face Washington State in the Battle of the Palouse and nearly pulled the upset, falling 61-58. College of Idaho has lost two straight after a 26-game winning streak, taking a 90-64 loss at Utah State Tuesday night. But three streaks still continue for C of I, as the Coyotes hold a 14-game home win streak, a 20-game Cascade Conference win streak and a 26-game win streak against NAIA competition. And the Boise State women look for a 3-0 start as they host Eastern Washington today in ExtraMile Arena.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…December 10, 2012:
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel becomes the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy. Manziel starred for the Aggies during their first year in the SEC and was drafted in the first round by Cleveland following his sophomore season. But “Johnny Football” never took root with the Browns and was gone after two years of on-field and off-field struggles. Manziel later had stints in the CFL and the short-lived Alliance of American Football before hanging it up in 2019.
(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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