Can one player foster a rivalry?

There were two powerhouse games on Boise State’s home schedule last year, Washington State and BYU, both resulting in close Bronco victories. Some have bemoaned the lack of a marquee opponent on this year’s blue turf slate. Well, maybe there’s cause for pause. If you’re a Sports Illustrated reader, I guess you already have October 21 circled on your calendar. That’s when Wyoming comes to Albertsons Stadium. And in this week’s SI there’s an Andy Staples feature headlined “No one to No. 1,” talking about the chances of Cowboys quarterback Josh Allen being the top overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. That makes Allen worth the price of admission this fall, right? At the very least, last year’s game in Laramie should light a fire.

Allen doesn’t have the numbers that scream “NFL quarterback!” yet. He completed just 56 percent of his passes last season. And while he did throw for 28 touchdowns, he had 15 interceptions. I’d say there’s a long row to hoe for Allen. He does have those NFL measurables, though, at 6-5, 235 pounds. Staples points out that “as a senior in high school (in Firebaugh, CA) he was a string bean—6-4, 185 pounds.” That translated into exactly zero recruiting stars and zero FBS offers (Fresno State considered Allen as a walk-on). He opted to go the junior college route at Reedley College, and that’s when Wyoming coach Craig Bohl saw a younger version of Carson Wentz, who he coached at North Dakota State. Staples’ story is full of Wentz comparisons.

Allen almost declared for the NFL Draft in January before common sense reeled him back in. His signature moment of last season was very NFL-esque and is highlighted by Staples: “In Wyoming’s 30-28 win against Boise State, Allen felt the rush coming on a third-and-13 play and stepped up in the pocket. When it collapsed on him, he ran backward and then rolled right. Before he reached the sideline, he arced the ball over a defender’s head and into the hands of leaping senior receiver Tanner Gentry for a 27-yard touchdown. On his next play he threaded the ball between two defenders to another senior receiver, Jake Maulhardt, for a two-point conversion to tie the score at 28 with 6:42 remaining.” For Bronco Nation, it was a “you’ve got to be kidding me” sequence. Allen is dangerous. But he’s still inconsistent.

Todd Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune said yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk that San Diego State “may be playing Russian roulette” with its football program. The school has announced it has broken off talks with FS Investors on the latter’s “SoccerCity” stadium and real estate project on the land where the condemned Qualcomm Stadium currently sits. Leonard calls it a “bombshell.” So what will San Diego State do? The Aztecs can play at Petco Park in 2019, but Leonard says the Padres aren’t interested in SDSU beyond 2019 (although the Holiday Bowl is slated to make Petco its permanent home).

San Diego State’s Plan B, according to Leonard, is to “produce a rival initiative that would go on the ballot” and force voters to decide between a soccer stadium accompanied by a nice real estate development with the pieces generally in place, and something that the university wants. “If this becomes a soccer versus football issue—in Boise, it would be a no-brainer, right?” said Leonard. “In San Diego, it’s not.” Not pretty. But many are understanding of SDSU’s unwillingness to kowtow to the developers of what fellow Union-Tribune columnist Mark Zeigler labels “SuckerCity.”

Tyler Aldridge is not an automatic entry on the PGA Tour this year after finishing just outside the top 125 on last season’s money list. The one-time Boise State golfer squeezes in anywhere he can, including in this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. This will be only Aldridge’s sixth tour event of this calendar year—he’s made the cut in three of his past four. Graham DeLaet is also in the field after missing the cut at the The Players Championship. At the NCAA Stanford Regional yesterday, Boise State freshman Brian Humphreys wrapped up his season with a three-over 73 in the final round and finished in a tie for 57th.

The Boise State women’s softball team has lived to see another day after winning two elimination games yesterday in the National Invitation Softball Championship. The Broncos downed San Diego 7-3 in the morning, keyed by sophomore Morgan Lamb’s two-out three-run homer in the fourth inning. Boise State then ended Utah State’s season with a 10-2 rout in the afternoon. The Broncos advance to today’s title round at the Ogden Regional—they’ll have to beat host Weber State twice to advance to the NISC Championship Series.

One of the most-discussed injuries in baseball so far this season is “the blister from hell,” the one that has long occupied the middle finger of former Boise Hawk Rich Hill. On Tuesday, Hill was activated off the 10-day disabled list Tuesday. Only it was a lot longer than 10 days. The 37-year-old Dodgers lefthander was sidelined for a full month—this time—before returning to the mound Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss in San Francisco. The good news is Hill got through without a recurrence of his blister problem, scattering six hits and allowing just one run over five innings. He was on the DL last summer due to a blister when L.A. acquired him from Oakland last summer. Now Hill’s in the first season of a three-year, $48 million deal.

This Day In Sports… May 18, 1997, 20 years ago today:

Karl Malone, who helped the Utah Jazz win a franchise record 64 games, is voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, edging Michael Jordan. In his 12th season with the Jazz, the Mailman averaged 27.4 points and 9.9 rebounds—and was also selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive team. Malone would play six more seasons with the Jazz before finishing his 19-year career with the L.A. Lakers in 2003-04. With 36,928 career points, he is the second-leading scorer in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

(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.)