Nobody’s going to be totally happy with the Mountain West schedule released yesterday. But everyone’s just happy to be playing fall football. For Boise State, it’s just like always: playing with the hand you’ve been dealt and not worrying about it. It starts and finishes in difficult fashion. Utah State is first up on the blue turf on October 24, followed by Air Force on the road and BYU back in Albertsons Stadium. Yes, the Broncos were able to save their biggest home game of the season with the Cougars, but instead of skipping Air Force, they’re bypassing New Mexico.
Three of the Broncos’ final four games are on the road, starting with the rugged trip to Hawaii on November 21. On December 5, Boise State will play UNLV on the road for the second year in a row, the only departure from the original home-road distribution this season. But this time it will be at the Raiders’ shiny new “Death Star,” Allegiant Stadium. The stretch is capped by a huge December 12 showdown against Wyoming in Laramie, where the average high at that time is 34—and the average low is 9. Maybe the Broncos should move practice that week to Stanley. Just remember that late in the 2014 season Boise State went to Laramie, and it was 35 degrees with 20 mile-per-hour winds at kickoff. It was snowing at the end of the game. The Broncos won 63-14.
There are no divisions in the Mountain West this year. It’s one big happy 12-team family. The two teams with the highest conference winning percentages will face off in the MW championship game on Saturday, December 19. That raises the possibility of a team that’s able to play only, say, five games and goes 5-0 to get in over a 7-1 team, but it turns out there’s a complicated tiebreaking system for that. The expectation is that all games (Boise State’s, at least) will be televised, with fans generally not allowed to attend—or at least limited attendance—at this point. According to the Mountain West, “CBS Sports and FOX Sports will now initiate a selection procedure which will include the shifting of several games to Thursdays and Fridays.”
RYPIEN BUCKS ADVERSITY, GETS THE ‘W’
Everything was going so well through three quarters in Brett Rypien’s first start for Denver Thursday night. Rypien had thrown for two touchdowns against one interception, showing poise in the pocket and precision with his throws, and he had the Broncos leading the New York Jets 27-16. Then came a “what was he thinking” pick-six with less than 11 minutes left in the game, followed by another interception, and suddenly Denver was down 28-27. In the end, though, Rypien and Denver righted the ship, and he became the first Boise State alum ever to win a start in the NFL in a 37-28 victory.
When Rypien was hot, he was hot. His first NFL touchdown pass covered 48 yards to Jerry Jeudy (also Jeudy’s first TD), and his second was a laser to Tim Patrick for seven yards. The former Boise State star took a lot of shots, including three roughing-the-passer calls and a facemask. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman raved about Rypien’s performance, with the exception of that brutal stretch in the fourth quarter. For the game, he was 19-of-31 for 242 yards. One of Rypien’s biggest plays of the game, as it turns out was a block that sprung Melvin Gordon’s 43-yard touchdown run to put the game away.
THE CLASSY KEKAULA KANIHO
Boise State’s Kekaula Kaniho has been named a semifinalist for the 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy from the National Football Foundation. Never mind that there are 199 semifinalists. We like Kaniho’s chances, don’t we? There will be 12-14 finalists named in November, and each of them will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Celebrating its 31st year, the Campbell award recognizes the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, on-field performance and exemplary leadership. Kaniho was a first-team All-Mountain West selection in 2019 and was a second-team Academic All-American.
ROAD WARRIORS, PART V
It’s overshadowed by current football news, and thankfully so. But my Friday series on the biggest road wins in Boise State history continues today. This was in November, 1999. A year earlier, Idaho had ripped the Broncos’ hearts out with the surprise overtime two-point conversion by Joel Thomas to win 36-35 on the blue turf. The night before this game at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Boise State coach Dirk Koetter told his team, “Fellas, this doesn’t have to be close. And it wasn’t. The Broncos clinched their first Big West championship and first berth in a Division I-A bowl game with a 45-14 rout of the Vandals, breaking the game open with a 21-point first quarter. The victory launched Boise State’s 12-game winning streak over Idaho that has stood since the rivalry ended in 2010.
KBOI’s retro Decade of Dominance broadcast Saturday night is the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl, Boise State’s 56-24 win over Arizona State in Kellen Moore’s final game. Here are some of the sidebars. After the game, I asked if Moore’s 50 wins as a college quarterback would be the college football equivalent of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. The 143rd and final touchdown pass of Kellen’s career went to Matt Miller, the guy who caught Moore’s 100th to begin the season against Georgia. And the last game of Doug Martin’s career began with an electrifying 100-yard kickoff return that set the tone for the evening. From there, Martin put forth a Herculean effort against the Sun Devils defense, rushing for 151 yards on 31 punishing carries—he was a yards-after-contact machine.
THE ‘RED TAILS’ RIGHTFULLY HONORED
Air Force is a football rival of Boise State, so there’s some acrimony there. But we can’t forget what the cadets are all about and the sacifices they make to attend the academy and serve the country. And what they’re doing for their season opener against Navy Saturday in Colorado Springs is very cool, and it’s gotten a lot of run. he Falcons are unveiling a new themed uniform based on the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African American unit to fly combat airplanes in World War II. The helmet is especially stunning. The Tuskegee Airmen were known as the “Red Tails,” a name suggested to the Washington Football Team when it dropped its old nickname in July. Why Washington didn’t just go ahead with Red Tails, I’ll never know.
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October 2, 1993: Quarterback Tony Hilde burns his redshirt year and makes his first career start as a true freshman in Boise State’s 38-24 loss to Montana in Missoula. He threw the first of his 70 career touchdown passes—that one pulled in by Ryan Ikebe, who was burning his redshirt year that day as well. Hilde’s 388 passing yards and 406 in total offense in his collegiate debut would also be career highs. He would rack up 9,107 yards passing and 10,138 in total offense over his four seasons, and 26 of his TD passes would go to Ikebe.
(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.)