Props to the Idaho Statesman for its editorial on the ills of Barstool Sports. And bad on me for not knowing more about the sponsor of the Arizona Bowl. All I really knew of Barstool was some of its ridiculous and inflammatory tweets. I hadn’t taken the time to make myself aware of its background of racism, sexism and dismissal of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. Maybe the question now shouldn’t be “how will the Arizona Bowl do as a streamed football game?” but “how will it do without eyeballs?” Rather than trying to figure out how to see it, maybe many around the country will boycott it. Maybe it’s time for Boise State and Central Michigan to just play this game and not worry about how many people will watch it. Maybe it’s time for Bronco Nation to get this one from Bob Behler and Pete Cavender on the radio.
WE LIKE THIS SPONSOR
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl takes its shots, but its sponsor, the Idaho Potato Commission, is legit. The bowl will play it 25th game Tuesday when Wyoming meets Kent State. This will be the 11th time the Mid-American Conference has played in the bowl, and the eighth for the Mountain West—the MAC is 4-6 and the MW is 4-3. It’s the Golden Flashes’ first appearance on the blue turf, and the Cowboys’ second berth in the bowl. The Pokes’ first FIPB marked Josh Allen’s final game at Wyoming. Allen obliterated Central Michigan with three first-quarter touchdown passes in the 37-14 Pokes victory. He settled down after that and was 11-for-19 for 154 yards on the day.
This year’s game is big for the Cowboys. For one thing, they’re 6-6, so it’s the difference between a winning season and a losing one. The Pokes started 4-0 but went 2-6 in the Mountain West. One of those two wins, however was the 41-17 shocker at Utah State. You never know when Wyo might rise up. The Cowboys, based mainly on a defense that is ranked 33rd in the country, are 3½-point favorites over 7-6 Kent State Tuesday afternoon in Albertsons Stadium.
THE MW GOES 2-FOR-2 SATURDAY
Mountain West bowl season began swimmingly on Saturday. Fresno State kicked it off by beating UTEP 31-24 in the New Mexico Bowl to reach the 10-win plateau. After the game it was confirmed that Bulldogs interim coach Lee Marks, the former Boise State running back and assistant, will join Kaden DeBoer as running backs coach at Washington. And Utah State? The Aggies got to 11 wins Saturday night (after only one in the COVID-shortened 2020 season) by dropping Oregon State 24-13 in the inaugural LA Bowl. The Jimmy Kimmel thing was not ideal, but it worked out okay. USU scrambled after an injury to starting quarterback Logan Bonner, but third-stringer Cooper Legas came on to throw for 171 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62-yard strike on the first attempt of his career.
SKINNER TO SUIT UP NEXT YEAR
With a “See y’all in 2022. Zeros back. Tape comin’ soon.” tweet, we found out last night that JL Skinner is returning to Boise State next season rather than declare early for the NFL. That’s a darn good decision. Skinner was solid this fall, but he needs to add to his body of work to climb draft boards. The second-team All-Mountain West safety has logged a team-leading 92 tackles this season, seven of them for loss, along with two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
ECK AIMS TO TURN THE BIG SKY TIDE
It sounds like Idaho got this one right, and it’s important that the Vandals do. Jason Eck, the respected South Dakota State offensive coordinator who was an assistant at Idaho in the mid-2000s, was hired Saturday as Paul Petrino’s successor. When Idaho left the Sun Belt for the FCS in 2018, it was expected that it would be an instant contender in the Big Sky. Instead, the Vandals have gone 11-19 in conference play and 15-25 overall the past four seasons. They were ninth in the league this year and have never finished higher than fifth. The big picture: Idaho has only two winning seasons in the 21st century and has not won a conference championship since 1998 in the Big West. Eck appears to have the chops to finally get it done in Moscow, as long as there’s a true commitment from the university.
BRONCOS ROLL IN THEIR SUNDAY MATINEE
Boise State wasn’t expected to have much trouble with Montana Tech, and it didn’t, routing the Orediggers 88-57 Sunday afternoon in ExtraMile Arena. It was a 50-50-50 day for the Broncos: 53 percent shooting from the field, 52 from three-point range, and (ahem) 58 percent from the free throw line. Five Boise State players reached double figures. Abu Kigab scored 11 points, and B.J. Rains reports that his dad was there to see it, having traveled from The Sudan to watch him graduate from Boise State and see him play in person for the first time. Elsewhere, No. 18 College of Idaho swept Walla Walla and Lewis-Clark State over the weekend. The 69-55 win over the 17th-ranked Warriors was significant. It was the Yotes’ first top 25 win this season, and they held L-C State 38 points below their season scoring average.
STEELIES DO THE SAME
Goaltender Matt Jurusik returned to the Idaho Steelheads Sunday afternoon after a stint with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and he promptly shut out the Rapid City Rush in a 3-0 victory in Idaho Central Arena. Interestingly enough, Jurusik also posted a shutout in his AHL debut a week ago against Springfield, and he had notch a goose-egg in his last game with Idaho before going to Pennsylvania. The Steelies’ other primary netminder, Jake Kupsky, won his fourth straight start Friday night as Idaho won 5-2. Kupsky has held opponents to two goals or less in 10 of 11 appearances this season and owns a league-best 1.65 goals-against average.
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December 20, 1980: Boise State wins the Division I-AA national championship with a 31-29 win over Eastern Kentucky at the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento. Boise State led most of the way—until the Colonels connected on a bomb with 55 seconds remaining. Trailing by five points with 80 yards to go, Joe Aliotti led the Broncos on the dramatic winning drive. He hit Kipp Bedard three times to get them close—then on fourth-and-10 from the 14-yard-line, Aliotti scrambled until he found tight end Duane Dlouhy in the corner of the end zone with 12 seconds left.
(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.)