Insults and snickering and offending and defending—Boise State and UCF fans have been at it for a couple of years now. What better way to move forward than to match the two teams on the field? It seemed to be too much to ask, but kudos to Broncos athletic director Curt Apsey and Knights AD Danny White. The two programs will actually play football against each other. Boise State and UCF will open Week 1 of the 2021 season at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, with the return game scheduled for September 9, 2023, on the blue turf. It was complicated. To accommodate the UCF series, Boise State moved its 2021 game at Houston to the 2025 season, and its 2023 home game against Rice to 2029.
There’s another thread that wove through Tuesday’s announcement. BYU is playing at UCF in 2023, and the Knights will travel to Provo to play the Cougars in 2024. That was on the heels of the revelation that the Holy War between BYU and Utah will take 2022 and 2023 off before resuming in 2024. That’s a lot to absorb, but one takeaway is that the biggest rival on the Cougars’ schedule during the two-year hiatus with the Utes will be Boise State. How about the Broncos’ future non-conference opponents at home: Florida State and BYU next year, Oklahoma State in 2021, Michigan State and BYU in 2022, and Oregon State and UCF in 2023.
THIS ONE HURTS
All that premature Boise State-to-the-Cotton Bowl talk was tempered by reality Tuesday. The Broncos have some adversity to overcome. It looks like the team is going to have to get something out of its untested middle linebackers sooner rather than later. Redshirt freshmen DJ Schramm and Phillip Mills and junior college transfer Josh Booker-Brown have exactly zero tackles between them this season. But some combination of them may be called upon as reinforcements now. Ezekiel Noa, who was injured during the third quarter of the win over Air Force, has been lost for the season with a torn ACL and a broken wrist. Noa had already made 10 tackles against the Falcons when he was hurt and is currently Boise State’s leading tackler with 28 through four games. He was the ideal replacement for the dismissed Tyson Maeva.
PORTLAND STATE’S TOUR OF SOUTHERN IDAHO
Ten days ago, Portland State was in Boise. This Saturday, the Vikings will be in Pocatello. PSU has high hopes of a different ending in the second Gem State visit as it takes on Idaho State in the Big Sky opener for both schools. But the Vikings will have to buck a trend. They’ve lost two straight to the Bengals after winning six of seven games against them to begin the decade. ISU is coming off an excellent defensive effort, allowing just 234 yards of total offense in a 13-6 loss at No. 8 Northern Iowa. On the other hand, the Panthers held Idaho State to 203. Turnovers were big, as the Bengals lost three without getting any from NIU. Sidebar: Portland State wide receiver Davis Koetter plays on the field where his dad, Dirk, spent his college football days.
PAGANO DOING WHAT HE LOVES
A year ago, Chuck Pagano was living in Boise, playing golf and attending Boise State games one season after being fired as Indianapolis Colts head coach. Pagano kept in touch with the NFL by consulting for various clubs in the league while hoping to get back into coaching. Before his Indy days, he had made his mark as a defensive coordinator, and he’s doing that again. Pagano is now D-coordinator for the Chicago Bears, who are 2-1 after their 31-15 domination of Washington Monday night. He’s still got it. His defense is eighth in the NFL in yards allowed at 313.7 per game, and third in points allowed at 13.0. Pagano, a cancer survivor, turns 59 years old next week.
BRONCOS HOLD COURT
The Boise State men’s basketball team is officially on the practice floor for the 2019-20 season. And the story early on will be the number of guys who were on the practice floor last season—but never on the court for a game. Despite the struggles of the Broncos’ first 20-loss campaign, coach Leon Rice resisted the temptation to burn the redshirt years of his hidden stockpile. Now, Rice figures, Boise State can bear some fruit. “We’ve got a lot more choices, as far as it’s not going to be all on one guy to get 25 every night,” he said. “We have versatility we haven’t had in a while.” Of the redshirts, Riley Abercrombie, the 6-8 forward from Australia by way of Houston, is especially intriguing.
Emmanuel Akot was practicing with the Broncos Tuesday. But will he play come November? Rice doesn’t know yet. The former five-star recruit transferred to Boise State from Arizona and enrolled in June. NCAA transfer rules would typically require Akot to sit out the entire 2019-20 season, but Boise State has been seeking a waiver due to the extended troubles surrounding the Wildcats program due to the Adidas scandal. Akot is an interesting study as a 6-8 guard. He played 17 games for Arizona last season before declaring his intention to transfer, averaging 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
AROUND THE HORN
Boise State inaugural baseball schedule for 2020 hasn’t been released yet, but BYU’s has. And the Cougars will play the revived Broncos program twice—In Boise on March 30 and in Provo on April 13. The Memorial Stadium date will be one of the highlights of the slate. It may be a fall tournament that doesn’t carry the weight of spring season events, but an individual golf title by a Bronco is always news. Lexi Perry was medalist Tuesday at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic in Fort Collins, CO, finishing one-over par in the three-day tourney. And the Boise State women’s volleyball team opened Mountain West play Tuesday night with a dominating sweep of Utah State in Logan.
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September 25, 2014, five years ago today: Derek Jeter plays his final game at Yankee Stadium, and it couldn’t be more dramatic. Wrapping up his 20th season in New York, Jeter doubled, drove in a run and scored in the first inning, but that was nothing compared to the ninth. Baltimore had tied the game with three runs in the top of the inning, but Jeter came up for one final at-bat in the bottom of the ninth and singled in the winning run in a walk-off 6-5 victory. Jeter finished his career with 3,465 hits, the most ever by a shortstop, and was a 14-time American League All-Star. He also won five World Series rings and was Series MVP in 2000.
(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.)