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Boise State football: The win on the white turf

There’s probably never been a football game played in Laramie as late as December 12. The weather for Boise State-Wyoming was even worse than the forecast.
Credit: CBS Sports
Boise State defeated Wyoming 17-9 in a game played on a snow-covered field Laramie on Saturday.

BOISE, Idaho — Monday, December 14, 2020.

It didn’t have to be that close, but Boise State’s 17-9 win at Wyoming Saturday evening has to be appreciated amidst a blizzard and a temperature of 15. The wind was blowing sideways, and the wind chill was near zero. Fears of tackling problems through frozen hands—and after a three-week layoff—did not materialize for the Broncos, who frustrated Cowboys star Xazavian Valladay and his running mate, Trey Smith, and kept battered quarterback Levi Williams from making anything happen. Boise State held the Pokes to 146 total yards, the fewest allowed in a true road game in 10 years. The four pass completions by Wyoming were the fewest against the Broncos by a non-triple option team in 20 years.


The conditions were challenging for the Boise State offense, to say the least. The fact that, through it all, Khalil Shakir logged yet another 100-yard game speaks to his incalculable value to this team. Shakir had eight catches for 105 yards, with half of the receptions and 67 of the yards coming on Boise State’s two touchdown drives. He also said after the game he plans on returning in 2021. Credit also goes to quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who survived a bloody shot to his chin and squinted through the snow pelting his face to complete 68 percent of his throws for 181 yards and the Broncos’ first TD. The scoring toss went to George Holani, who didn’t appear to be 100 percent in his first game in six weeks. Holani left the game with an injury early in the third quarter. Will Boise State have to fend without him again?


Boise State played what many thought would be the last college football game in Sam Boyd Stadium last December when it lost to Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl. Instead, it has become the home field this fall for both New Mexico and San Jose State due to various COVID crises, and the Spartans will host the Mountain West championship game this Saturday there due to a higher composite computer ranking than the Broncos (bonus: it’ll be on the main Fox network, just like the canceled November 28 game was supposed to be). San Jose State also made both the AP and Coaches Polls Sunday at No. 25. The Spartans are 6-0 for the first time in 81 years, capping the regular season with a 30-20 come-from-behind over Nevada Friday night. SJSU outscored the Wolf Pack 23-0 in the second half.


The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is officially on the docket now, as Nevada and Tulane have accepted invitations to the December 22 game on the blue turf. It’s interesting that the Green Wave are flying across the country from New Orleans in this world of COVID, but it is a great matchup. The Wolf Pack is 6-2, and Tulane is 6-5. The Pack played in the FIPB last year, losing to Ohio. Hawaii is also set for the postseason, taking on Houston at the New Mexico Bowl, held this year in Frisco, TX, on Christmas Eve. This will be the Rainbow Warriors' first bowl game on the mainland since the 2008 Sugar Bowl (the Hawaii Bowl is canceled this season). Both Boise State and San Jose State will be placed in bowl games, too.


What a bizarro weekend at Utah State. Aggies players were lobbying for interim coach Frank Maile during a videoconference, according to the Stadium, when USU president Noelle Cockett reportedly voiced concerns about Maile's cultural and religious background. Maile, the Aggies’ co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, is a Utah State graduate, is LDS, and is Polynesian. Cockett’s comments rankled players, and they held a team meeting and voted unanimously not to participate in Saturday’s season finale at Colorado State. Maile is now calling for “a thorough and independent investigation of religious, cultural and racial discrimination throughout Utah State University.”

Against that backdrop, Blake Anderson takes over as USU’s new head coach. Anderson, the coach who replaced Bryan Harsin at Arkansas State in 2014, will now be coaching against him in the Mountain West. Anderson went 51-37 in seven seasons with the Red Wolves, leading them to six bowl games and back-to-back Sun Belt championships in 2015-16. A new hire announced by Anderson Sunday may soothe uneasy Aggies fans. Chuckie Keeton, the beloved former Utah State quarterback, will be returning to Logan after spending two seasons as a graduate assistant under former USU coach Matt Wells at Texas Tech.


Runs? That’s baseball, right? Yesterday it was hoops in ExtraMile Arena. Weber State had runs of 8-0, 10-0 and 7-0. Boise State went on runs of 6-0, 13-0, 8-0 and 11-0. The Broncos had one more run, leading to a 70-59 win over the Wildcats. Derrick Alston had one of those games he’s become known for, putting up 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field and a 5-for-7 day from the three-point line. Alston hit a three and was fouled with 3:43 left in the game. His four-point play essentially sealed it. The consistent Abu Kigab added 15 points, and Mladen Armus pulled down 10 rebounds despite a tough afternoon from the field. Boise State is now 4-1.


Boise State isn’t scheduled to play again until the delayed Mountain West series against New Mexico begins next Monday. Bob Behler asked coach Leon Rice on the KBOI postgame show Sunday whether he was trying to add another game between now and then. Maybe. “The hard part for everyone involved in this thing is, you can say there’s a plan, but you wake up every day and who knows?” Rice said. He did add that the Broncos first priority this week is finals. Meanwhile, the Boise State women didn’t get to play their game at BYU Saturday due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Broncos program. The release said the game was “postponed.” Boise State is set to play a second game against College of Idaho Wednesday afternoon.

THIS DAY IN SPORTS…December 14, 1920, 100 years ago today:

Notre Dame football star George Gipp dies of pneumonia in South Bend, Indiana. Years later, Fighting Irish head coach Knute Rockne would deliver a pregame speech telling his team of a final conversation he had at Gipp’s deathbed, where the player is said to have told Rockne to “just win one for the Gipper.” Notre Dame would rally for an upset of undefeated Army in that 1928 game at Yankee Stadium. Gipp’s line would later be immortalized in the 1940 movie "Knute Rockne: All- American" starring future President Ronald Reagan.

(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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