BOISE, Idaho — Thursday, May 30, 2019.
Chantel Jennings of The Athletic was asked about “the five biggest West Coast college football games of the 2019 season” in her “Best Coast Mailbag.” And there it is: Boise State-Florida State on Aug. 31 in Jacksonville, FL. “Everyone is always trying to crown ‘The Next Boise State,’ but the Broncos have a chance to pick up a win against a rebuilding Power Five team in (what will be) a raucous, road game-like environment,” writes Jennings. “If the Broncos want a shot at the New Years’ Six bid, this game is a must-win. Lose this and they’re no longer in the Group of Five driver’s seat.” A fairly common take on this game.
But another of the five games Jennings picked was more unexpected—and it involves a former Boise State icon—UC Davis-North Dakota State on Sept. 21 in Fargo, N.D. “Dan Hawkins is building something at UC Davis and the Best Coast has shown some love,” writes Jennings. “But, the Aggies have a chance to gain some national attention when they match up against the best of the best at the FCS level in powerhouse NDSU. The Bison are in the middle of a huge offensive rebuild. Off the 2018 national championship team, North Dakota State must replace its QB, its top three running backs and its top four wide receivers. Four weeks into the season, could the Aggies make a big statement away from home? Oh, ya, sure, you betcha.” (Jennings says she can make that joke “because I’m a Minnesotan.”)
MEANWHILE, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACIFIC
One Mountain West football team we haven’t talked about is Hawaii. But guess who’s back on Boise State’s schedule this year? The Rainbow Warriors visit the blue turf on October 12, and they bring with them their quarterback curiosity, Cole McDonald. The Sporting News has McDonald as the ninth-best returning QB in the country this year. “Don’t be surprised when he leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in (passing),” wrote TSN. McDonald is the nation’s top returnee with 298.1 passing yards per game. He led Hawaii to its first winning season in eight years in 2018, throwing for more than 400 yards in each of his first two games. McDonald cooled off midseason before going off for 452 yards in a 31-30 overtime road upset of San Diego State in the regular season finale. My prediction: the blue turf will be a challenge for him.
WILSON SUITS UP AGAIN
Cedrick Wilson said on Idaho SportsTalk early this year, “I’m hoping to get my range of motion and my strength up in time for camp, and show why they drafted me.” Well, Wilson is already back and was at work in the Dallas Cowboys OTAs this week. Just when he was raising eyebrows with his route-running and knowledge of the playbook, the former Boise State star re-injured his shoulder early in training camp last August and missed the 2018 season. Wilson’s been champing at the bit to get on the field, and the Cowboys have been anxious to see him. Dallas has a big hole to fill at wide receiver, with Cole Beasley having left for Buffalo. Wilson could fill that role, although he’d obviously do it in a very different way. He’s slated to coach at the Gridiron Dreams Football Academy in Boise Friday and Saturday.
TWO OUT OF THREE ARE COMIN’ BACK
Only three Mountain West players declared early for the NBA Draft this year, and two of them withdrew by yesterday’s deadline: the previously-discussed Neemias Queta of Utah State and Nico Carvacho of Colorado State, the nation’s leading rebounder last season. The guy who stayed in was San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels, whose draft projections are all over the board. The 6-10 McDaniels, slender as he is, looks good getting off the bus, but his shot doesn’t always accompany him. NBA clubs may be discouraged by the accusations made by two women who allege he filmed sex acts while in high school in Federal Way, WA.
TWO-WAY RACE FOR SEATTLE’S AHL CLUB
It’s down to Boise and Palm Springs as candidates to become the American Hockey League affiliate of Seattle’s new NHL franchise two years from now. The team’s chief executive, Tod Leiweke, confirmed in an interview with Dave “Softy” Mahler on KJR in Seattle Tuesday that those two cities are being considered. “That’s a really big decision,” Leiweke said. “You’re going to start a second team at the very same time you start the first team, and that second team will be where the future stars get developed. We want to create the perfect environment for our hockey staff to develop players.” Boise is closer to Seattle and is established as a hockey town. Palm Springs would need to build an arena. But it does have nice weather during hockey season.
STIRRING MEMORIES OF THE STEELIES’ STRANGEST GOAL
A little hockey catchup here—former Idaho Steelhead Alex Belzile has signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Belzile will be on a two-way NHL-AHL deal with the Canadiens after leading the AHL’s Laval Rocket this past season with 19 goals and 54 points. Former Voice of the Steelheads Will Hoenike emailed me video of one of the most unlikely goals ever seen in CenturyLink Arena. It happened four years ago, with Belzile flipping the puck high into the air from back near Steelies’ blue line. It somehow dropped right into the net behind a stunned goaltender, who probably had lost the puck in the lights of the center-hang scoreboard. Belzile was a force for the Steelheads in 2014-15, scoring 28 goals with 41 assists.
This Day In Sports…May 30, 1992:
Bert Blyleven becomes only the second pitcher in major league history to win a game as a teenager and another as a 40-year-old as the California Angels down the Cleveland Indians 3-1. Blyleven was in his final season—his first win came as a 19-year-old with the Minnesota Twins in 1970. Blyleven, who notched 287 career victories, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. The first pitcher to win as both a teenager and 40-year-old was Herb Pennock, who retired in 1934.
(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.)