We always count down to the Boise State football season this time of year. Today we reach a key checkpoint: 100 days before the scheduled opener against Georgia Southern. We think. While you wonder, you can tune in on the Boise State Football Facebook page tonight for this week’s Bronco Throwback, the 17-14 win over Fresno State in the 2017 Mountain West championship game. It hasn’t been so long that you don’t remember. The play of the game was Brett Rypien’s 59-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson from the Broncos’ five-yard line in the fourth quarter that set up the winning touchdown.
The defense was the enduring story down the stretch. The Bulldogs’ five second-half possessions went punt-punt-punt-punt-punt-interception, as quarterback Marcus McMaryion was just 7-for-18 for 70 yards after the intermission and Fresno State netted just 85 yards total. How fitting that the clinching interception at the end of the game came from the guy who epitomized the defensive identity in 2017, Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Leighton Vander Esch. The footnote, of course, is that it came just one week after the Bulldogs had beaten the Broncos 28-17 in Fresno.
YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP
This story would never have been resurrected if Boise State wasn’t in ESPN.com’s preseason Top 25. But the Broncos are No. 19, so they’re included in “College football’s strange but true historical facts for each Top 25 team” by Harry Lyles Jr. It begins: “Could you imagine a team earning a berth in the College Football Playoff and then not being able to play in it because it overlapped with a regular-season game? The powers that be would certainly never let such a thing happen, but something similar did to 1977 Boise State in its final season in Division II (the Big Sky joined Division I-AA in 1978).” The Division II playoffs were set to begin on November 26, the same day Boise State was scheduled to play Idaho.
The Broncos had already clinched the Big Sky title, but they had to skip the postseason and play the Vandals. And they won 44-14. Coach Jim Criner must have been cranky about it. In the fading moments, Boise State had just scored and was leading 41-14. Criner called for an onside kick. The Broncos got it and followed up with a field goal. It was a bitter, bitter rivalry. Lyles points out that Northern Arizona ended up representing the Big Sky in the Division II playoffs and lost 35-0 at home to Jacksonville State.”
BRONCOS VS. BRONCOS
B.J. Rains of the Idaho Press reports that Boise State has arranged a home-and-home series with Santa Clara beginning December 15 in Boise. Santa Clara’s visit will mark a return to the Treasure Valley for former College of Idaho coach Scott Garson, who went 129-42 in five seasons with the Yotes and is now an assistant with the West Coast Conference Broncos. They return most of a roster that went 20-13 last season and had wins over Washington State, Cal and Saint Mary’s. That may be as marquee as the non-conference home slate gets this year, although the Tulsa game is intriguing, too. The Golden Hurricane was 21-10 last season and beat Boise State 69-56 last December in Tulsa in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.
LIMBO FOR THE HAWKS, TOO
Boise Hawks vice president Bob Flannery was on Idaho SportsTalk Wednesday and said the team’s season is kind of at the mercy of what Major League Baseball does. And MLB players and owners seem to be stuck in a quagmire as they try to agree on a way to start the season. June 17 is the scheduled opener for the Hawks—but, Flannery acknowledges, “Our season at best will be delayed.” He’s nothing if not patient and hopeful, though. “Our weather is good enough here…that we could extend into late September, or even early October if need be,” Flannery said. Seating capacity at the ballpark is a question that is yet to be answered, he added. And there’s housing for the players. “We have a great host family program. What happens with that?”
STIRRING THE BENGALS’ MEMORY BANK
I might be stretching for this story, but a key figure in Idaho State’s football history was in the news last week. Nevada quarterback and sometimes safety Kaymen Cureton has left the program to play at Eastern Kentucky. It was Cureton who debuted at QB for the Wolf Pack in one of the biggest upsets in ISU history. The Bengals, a perennial Big Sky also-ran at the time, went into Mackay Stadium in 2017 and stunned Nevada 30-28 in Rob Phenicie’s first year as coach. It was Idaho State’s first win over an FBS school in 17 years. Cureton started the next game, a 45-7 loss to Washington State, but was pulled after missing his first five pass attempts. Cureton still wants to play quarterback, but he was, by all accounts, fifth in the Pack’s pecking order.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
May 28, 1995, 25 years ago today: The Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox set a major league record by combining for 12 home runs in a game in a 14-12 ChiSox win at Tiger Stadium. Three players hit two apiece in the barrage, Chicago’s Ron Karkovice and Detroit’s Chad Curtis and Cecil Fielder. Ironically, the same two teams would tie that record in 2002. The single-game record for one team is 10 by the Toronto Blue Jays in an 18-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles in September, 1987.
(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.)