Thursday, September 14, 2017.
It doesn’t take much drilling down to figure out how important tonight’s game is for Boise State. It’s a divisional game in the Mountain West. “You’re absolutely focused on your division,” said coach Bryan Harsin. “That’s what puts you in position to play for a championship.” Or takes you out of it, as happened in 2015 when New Mexico came to the blue turf as a 30½-point underdog and shocked the Broncos 31-24. “We know what’s happened here before,” Harsin said. “We know what they’re capable of.” As for what’s happened here before, KTIK’s John Patrick said yesterday ESPN’s Brock Huard asked him to send the New Mexico team photo taken at midfield on the blue turf two years ago after the milestone upset. Boise State, by the way, is 4-5 in its last nine games against Mountain Division opponents.
GAME DAY GUIDE: Boise State vs. New Mexico
NMFishbowl.com, a “watchdog site” that examines New Mexico athletics, reports that an investigation of coach Bob Davie and the Lobos football program is underway “looking into specific claims of player mistreatment, as well as allegations about the athlete drug-testing process being compromised.” And the UNM athletic department has confirmed the process, saying it has retained an outside investigator. According to NMFishbowl.com, “it was initiated in recent months, sources say, following the latest round of athlete exit interviews conducted over the spring.” Additionally, “the severity and volume of the allegations made by players were deemed to be of a serious enough nature as to warrant outside review.”
The common wisdom going into the season was that Joel Velazquez was going to handle both punts and placekicking for Boise State. Turns out he’s done very little of either. The redshirt freshman has not attempted an extra point or field goal (he has punted four times). Haden Hoggarth, of course, has been the placekicker, making all eight of his PATs and all four of his field goals, including three pressure-packed ones in the loss at Washington State (two in overtime). Hoggarth just seems to be a happy guy, three years after he last played football at Bethune-Cookman. Quinn Skillin has been an equally-pleasant surprise as a punter, averaging 46.2 yards and ripping off a field-flipping 67-yarder at WSU. Velazquez does keep booting deep, line-drive kickoffs for touchbacks—maybe because his leg is unexpectedly fresh.
There are entirely too many tickets remaining for tonight’s Boise State-New Mexico game. We know what the problem isn’t: the weather. Today’s the first day since June that resembles football weather, with the high expected to drop to 74. Very comfortable. We also know that, despite the fact that it’s a school/work night, it’s not the kickoff time. This is the first time in six years the Broncos have enjoyed their first three straight games at the beginning of the season starting at 6 p.m. or earlier. Going into this season, Boise State had been saddled with kickoffs of 8 p.m. or later in 17 of its last 23 home games
Golfers with resumes like Angel Cabrera’s have been to Boise for exhibitions many times, but it’s rare to see someone like that here for a competitive tournament. Except he’s not. The theory is that Cabrera, who just turned 48 on Tuesday, is not sitting back and waiting for the Champions Tour. He wants to keep rolling on the PGA Tour, but now we see that he is not on the Tee Time list today at the Albertsons Boise Open. Cabrera is the only Argentinian in history to win the U.S. Open (2007) and Masters (2009). He also forced a sudden-death playoff just four years ago in the Masters before falling to Adam Scott. We were so looking forward to seeing him.
Here are some tee times of note today at Hillcrest Country Club. Peter Uihlein, who won the first leg of the Web.com Tour Finals at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship in Columbus two weeks ago, is first up on the No. 1 tee at 7:50 a.m. At 8:56, Canadian standout David Hearn tees off on No. 1 and Meridian’s Troy Merritt goes on No. 10. The popular Jason Gore starts at 9:18 a.m. on the first tee, and two other PGA Tour veterans, Ben Crane and Hunter Mahan, tee off back-to-back on No.10 at 12:50 p.m. and 1:01 p.m., respectively.
Some expected BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer to confirm yesterday that Eagle High grad Tanner Mangum would be out for Saturday’s game at No. 10 Wisconsin. But when asked who the starting quarterback will be at his press gathering, Detmer deadpanned, “JJ Nwigwe.” Nwigwe is a tight end. Mangum ended last Saturday’s loss to Utah with a left ankle or left foot injury and reportedly has been seen on the BYU campus wearing a boot. If he can’t go against the Badgers, the Cougars will start Beau Hoge, the son of former Highland High star and Pittsburgh Steeler (and ESPN analyst) Merril Hoge.
Seven Mountain West teams take on Power 5 foes Saturday in the conference’s biggest step-up week of the season. What’ll happen between Colorado State and Alabama in Tuscaloosa is a given. The two matchups that will attract the most eyes are Oregon at Wyoming and No. 1 Stanford at San Diego State. How about that—two home games. In Laramie, it’ll be quarterback Josh Allen’s chance to atone for his subpar showing on Opening Day at Wyoming. At San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium (the former Qualcomm), the Aztecs can launch themselves right into the New Year’s Six bowl conversation with a victory. Many (including me) think they will get it, as Rashaad Penny makes up for all the time he spent sitting behind Donnel Pumphrey the past three years. Penny is looking unstoppable.
There’s been no official announcement by the conference (that’s expected to come Monday), but rumors that the Big Sky Basketball Tournaments are headed to Boise and CenturyLink Arena in 2018 have legs. The conference is finishing a three-year contract with Reno this season. The Biggest Little City would seem to be an attractive March entertainment destination for Big Sky hoops fans, but local response in Reno has been lukewarm. At least Boise is closer to most Big Sky schools, topped by Idaho and Idaho State. And CenturyLink Arena looks great when it’s full—and with a capacity of about 5,000, it’s intimate enough to be cool.
This Day In Sports…September 14, 1985:
The first home game in the final season of green turf at Bronco Stadium. And UC Davis visits with a new junior college transfer quarterback named Chris Petersen. The Division II Aggies gave the Division I-AA Broncos all they wanted before falling, 13-9. Boise State was helped by a 56-yard Roberto Moran field goal, a school record that stands to this day. Petersen would go on to set UC Davis career records for completion percentage (69.7) and lowest interception percentage (2.5).
(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.)