Boise State football: Back to Bach?

If Hank Bachmeier is ready to go for Boise State at San Jose State Saturday, the hope is that he and the Broncos can get back to their winning ways. But they don’t necessarily want him to pick up exactly where he left off. When Bachmeier was injured against Hawaii 2½ weeks ago, he was just 3-for-9 for 57 yards (although he did drop a dime into the hands of John Hightower for a 26-yard touchdown). Bachmeier was not at his sharpest in the early-going that night, and this week he’d be facing a Spartans defense that is No. 2 in the country in interceptions with 13. Five of them came in SJSU’s upset of Arkansas in Fayetteville. And there’s the age-old issue of sacks (if you’re a Boise State fan). The Spartans sacked Army’s quarterbacks five times in their win at West Point last week. That’s hard to do to a triple-option team.


Bachmeier’s counterpart at San Jose State has changed the Mountain West narrative on the last name “Love.” Josh Love is coming off a 314-yard, three-touchdown performance through the air in the Spartans’ win at Army. Jordan Love, the Preseason Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year out of Utah State, is coming off a 114-yard, one-touchdown night in a lopsided loss at Air Force. Josh has 15 TD passes to three interceptions this season, while Jordan has eight touchdowns and nine picks. Josh is third in Mountain West pass efficiency at 141.7; Jordan is 10th at 118.5. Josh faces Boise State and Hawaii in the next two games. Upset victories in both would make him an Offensive Player of the Year candidate himself.


If Curtis Weaver wins one of these awards he’s up for, he’ll probably go the podium, and—after thanking the academy—give props to his supporting cast in the trenches. Sonatane Lui, David Moa and Chase Hatada have all had solid seasons and have occupied opposing blockers, opening creases for Weaver. The junior STUD end/linebacker has been named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, one of 20 on the pared-down list, and one of just two from a Group of 5 program (along with Utah State linebacker David Woodward). After the bye week, Weaver is now third in the country with 9.5 sacks and is the nation’s active career leader with 30.0 sacks, 2.5 ahead of Chase Young of Ohio State.


More stathead-isms from KTVB’s Jay Tust show the importance of preventing big plays at Boise State. There have been 23 drives this season that have seen the Broncos allow one play of 20 or more yards. Fifteen of those drives, 65.2 percent, have resulted in touchdowns for the opposition, and 78.3 percent have produced points. On the other hand, the Broncos have had 70 drives in which they’ve allowed no 20-yard plays. On those possessions, the opponent has scored TDs only 5.7 percent of the time and has produced points on just 7.1 percent of the drives. Three of BYU’s four touchdown drives a week and a half ago included a play of 20-plus yards. San Jose State is acutely aware of this.


Think back to early October of last year. College of Idaho, limping along with an 0-5 record, was coming off a bye and had the task of facing perennial Frontier Conference power Carroll. The Coyotes then decisively tamed the Fighting Saints 28-7 and went on to win the rest of their games to stunningly salvage a winning season. That apparently produced a long-term mojo effect, because Saturday the Yotes will attempt to match a 65-year-old school-record by winning their 14th straight game in Round 2 of the I-84 rivalry at Eastern Oregon. The University of Idaho, meanwhile, has been able to ride the euphoria of its rout of Idaho State through a bye week and will be favored against Cal Poly in the Kibbie Dome Saturday. The Vandals, 2-0 all-time against the Mustangs, who come in at 2-6 this season.


With Joe Flacco out, Denver has indeed promoted Boise State product Brett Rypien from the practice squad to serve as the team’s No. 2 quarterback for Sunday’s game against Cleveland. Mike Klis of KUSA-TV in Denver said Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk that he expects Rypien to be on the roster for much of November—then Drew Lock, Denver’s second-round draft pick last spring, should be activated from injured reserve to finish out the season.

Rypien’s former college teammate, Ryan Finley, takes it one step further. Cincinnati has benched veteran QB Andy Dalton, and Finley will start for Cincy after their bye week. So what do we call Finley? I say he’s a “former Boise State quarterback” (obviously), but he’s not a “Boise State product.” Finley played seven games as a Bronco and 39 games as a North Carolina State Wolfpack guy. He has not taken a regular-season snap yet for the 0-8 Bengals. Dalton’s former Cincinnati teammate and one-time Fiesta Bowl foe when he was at TCU, Boise State grad George Iloka, came to his defense. “Bench him if you must,” tweeted Iloka. “But this is real scapegoatish. Oline poo, defense 32nd in the league and he’s without his best WR.”


Hard to say what Boise State will glean out of its first-ever October exhibition game against West Coast Baptist Halloween night in ExtraMile Arena. UNLV walloped those same Eagles 112-54 in an exhibition last Friday. At least the Broncos will be playing somebody else for the first time, and that’s a positive. Coach Leon Rice will get a long look at newcomers such as RayJ Dennis, the highly-touted true freshman guard from the Chicago area. There was news Tuesday on one guy all current Broncos admire, former Boise State guard Chandler Hutchison. A troublesome hamstring kept Hutchison out of the Chicago Bulls’ preseason, and the club has sent him to its G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, so he can get playing time and work his way back into shape. Chicago coach Jim Boylen still has plans for Hutch.


The valley’s other two college men’s basketball squads play Mountain West competition in exhibition games tonight. College of Idaho will learn plenty in Logan as it takes on the unanimous preseason pick to win the conference, Utah State. The Coyotes will get to see reigning MW Player of the Year Sam Merrill up close and personal. And Northwest Nazarene will be in Laramie tonight. Wyoming was picked to finish 10th in the Mountain West, but the Cowboys will be a tough out for the Nighthawks.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by MAZ-TECH AUTOMOTIVE…your car says, “Take me to Maz-Tech!”

October 30, 1982: New Idaho coach Dennis Erickson brings the Vandals into Bronco Stadium to try to break a five-game losing streak to Boise State. Not only does Idaho snap the skid, it begins “The Streak”—as the Vandals would win the next 12 games against their rival. On this night, junior quarterback Ken Hobart, thriving in Erickson’s new offense, would lead Idaho to a 24-17 victory. Boise State would match the streak with its 12th straight win in the rivalry in 2010, a 52-14 victory at the Kibbie Dome before the series went dormant.

(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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