The most unfortunate fallout from the Mountain West’s split into two divisions in 2013 was that Boise State’s rivalries with Nevada and Fresno State would go on hiatus every two years. The Broncos finally face the Wolf Pack again for Homecoming Saturday night on the blue turf, and it’s on me to inform those of you who never knew—and refresh the memories of those who have forgotten—that this series has some juice. This is the first time since the rivalry began in 1971 that the two programs have gone two years without playing each other. A quarter century ago, Nevada was everything Boise State aspired to be. The Wolf Pack moved to Division I-A four years before the Broncos and dominated them on the field with seven wins in nine tries from 1989-98. But the tables have turned dramatically since then.
Now, you have people saying it’s not much of a rivalry when one team wins all the time—and Boise State has defeated Nevada in 14 of their last 15 meetings. But since 2007, there’s been some sizzle. Ten years ago, the Broncos and Wolf Pack played one of the most exciting games in Albertsons Stadium history before Boise State prevailed 69-67 in quadruple-overtime when Colin Kaepernick, making his first collegiate start, was sacked by Tim Brady. Then there was the unforgettable 2010 showdown in Reno, when the Broncos were undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the nation, and were set up for a Rose Bowl berth. They led the Pack 24-7 at halftime before Kaepernick led Nevada back, and an infamous missed field goal at the end of regulation allowed the Wolf Pack to win 34-31 in overtime.
The day after Halloween, we wrap up the month of October for Boise State. The Broncos went 4-0—and the underappreciated fact there is that three of the four wins came on the road, at BYU, San Diego State and Utah State. Only one other time this century have they picked up three October road victories, and that was in 2003 when there were five games squeezed into the month with a Thursday night game at BYU on ESPN (a 50-12 triumph). Boise State compiled a 50-game October winning streak from 2001-13. This year the Broncos returned to their dominant ways in the season’s middle month and have now won 64 of their last 67 games in October.
We have some “Where are they now?” opportunities today courtesy of Jim McElwain’s abrupt departure at Florida. Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon was elevated to interim head coach for the Gators, and he has promoted former Idaho Robb Akey from quality control assistant to defensive line coach. Akey had spent the previous three seasons in the NFL coaching the D-line for the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins. It’s Florida’s offense that has caused the most consternation, though, and Shannon is sticking with embattled O-coordinator Doug Nussmeier, the former Vandal quarterback. The Gators are 112th in the nation in total offense.
Matt Linehan doesn’t have much time to savor his Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week award. Idaho experiences a rare quick turnaround this week with a Thursday night game at Troy on ESPNU. Linehan was honored by the Sun Belt for his season-high 360 yards passing and three touchdowns in the Vandals’ 31-23 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Linehan’s most celebrated receiver right now is Kaden Elliss, the linebacker who has a TD catch in each of the past two weeks. But Alfonso Onunwor is the one who’s quietly led Idaho in receptions and receiving yards each of the last three games. For the season, Onunwor has 38 catches for 524 yards and four touchdowns.
College of Idaho has an eventful week ahead. Coming off what coach Mike Moroski calls “probably the biggest win we’ve had,” the 38-20 victory at Eastern Oregon last week, the Coyotes come home Saturday to host 17th-ranked Montana Tech. The best season since the return of football would be one thing—that would happen with a win this week. The first winning season would be another, and the Yotes still have a shot at it with two games to go. The C of I men’s hoops team challenges Boise State tomorrow night in Taco Bell Arena. Local Yotes who are especially looking forward to it include Gibson Berryhill (Timberline), Evan Henning (Boise High), Tanner Kramer (Parma), Talon Pinckney (Centennial), Dominic Hulsey (Liberty Charter), Justin Saunders (Capital) and Nate Bruneel (Rocky Mountain).
You know that three former Boise State stars are playing together on the Dallas defense. But Sunday, they were really playing together in the Cowboys’ 33-19 win at Washington. Late in the second quarter, Tyrone Crawford blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt. Orlando Scandrick returned the block 90 yards to the Washington four-yard line, and Dallas scored two plays later to take a 14-13 lead. Then early in the third, Crawford sacked Kirk Cousins and forced a fumble that DeMarcus Lawrence recovered (Lawrence, by the way, recorded a sack himself for the seventh straight game).
It’s kind of ironic that after 10 seasons in the NFL, Scandrick’s longest play of his pro career came on special teams. Scandrick’s longest two plays in his three-year Boise State career both came on special teams—both in the same game in 2005, and both involving blocked kicks in the fourth quarter by the same teammate. Daryn Colledge blocked an extra point and a field goal at Hawaii, and Scandrick ran them both back for a defensive two-point conversion and a touchdown, respectively.
A couple other things: Rich Hill didn’t get the win last night, but his team did. The former Boise Hawk went 4 2/3 innings and allowed just George Springer’s solo home run in the Dodgers’ eventual 3-1 win over the Astros, and there will be a Game 7 tonight in this rather remarkable 2017 World Series. And the Idaho Steelheads, saddled with a four-game losing streak, host the team that knocked them out of the Kelly Cup Playoffs last spring when the Colorado Eagles come into CenturyLink Arena tonight. The Eagles went on to win it all last year. They won’t be around a year from now, though, as they’re set to move up to the AHL as affiliates of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
This Day In Sports…November 1, 2010:
The San Francisco Giants, who manager Bruce Bochy affectionately called a collection of “castoffs and misfits,” win their first World Series since moving to California in 1958, finishing off the Texas Rangers in five games with a 3-1 victory. The Giants’ pitching was dominant throughout, with ace Tim Lincecum winning the first game and the finale. Veteran Edgar Renteria was the MVP, capping his Series with a decisive three-run homer in Game 5. The Rangers were in their first Fall Classic, while the Giants finally cashed in for the first time since they represented New York in 1954.
(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.)