Items in Boise State’s back seat

The Broncos don’t care about these things right now, but fans can ponder them nonetheless. These are not goals. Boise State’s goal (now renewed) is to win the Mountain West championship. The Broncos don’t care about these other things right now, but fans can ponder them nonetheless. Thomas Sperbeck is on the cusp of his first thousand-yard season, sitting at 929 going into the New Mexico game this Saturday. He’s just 71 yards short of 1,000—and 286 away from Titus Young’s school season record of 1,215 yards set five years ago. Sperbeck needs to average about 72 yards receiving per game over the final three games and the bowl game to top Young’s mark (we’re not assuming a Mountain West championship game appearance at this point). Sperbeck is also just 154 yards short of 2,000 for his career. As impressive as anything is Sperbeck’s yards-per-reception number this season: 19.0.

Jeremy McNichols is within reach of a thousand-yard season on the ground—he has 773 rushing yards right now. Based on four more games, McNichols needs to average about 57 yards a game to get there. And, of course, his scoring remains a big story. McNichols has gotten into the end zone in every game he’s played, with 14 touchdowns rushing and 17 overall. The Boise State single-season touchdown record is a stretch, though. McNichols needs 15 TDs to match the mark shared by Jay Ajayi and Brock Forsey, almost four per game.

While we’re on the subject, I saw that Eagle’s Tanner Mangum had tied the BYU freshman record for touchdown passes when he threw his 15th at San Jose State last Friday night. Which might make some people wonder if Brett Rypien has a shot at Boise State’s freshman record for TD throws. Unlikely, but not impossible—Rypien has 12 touchdown passes, 13 short of Kellen Moore’s Bronco freshman standard of 25 set in 2008. Rypien is 1,450 yards away from Moore’s freshman passing yardage standard of 3,486 yards. Rypien would have to average 363 yards over the four guaranteed games left. This is where a fifth game could make a big difference, though.

In terms of personnel, Boise State won’t look a lot different this Saturday than it did at UNLV on Halloween. Coach Bryan Harsin said nickel Mercy Maston will play against New Mexico after missing the trip to Las Vegas for disciplinary reasons. But Harsin said cornerback Donte Deayon and safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner haven’t fully recovered from surgical procedures, nor has quarterback Ryan Finley. And Harsin wasn’t sure if star linebacker Tanner Vallejo would be available against the Lobos. The coach did say he didn’t expect that Antoine Turner, the Broncos’ one-time homeless recruit and one of the great stories of the 2014 season, will be able to finish out his college career this season due to an ongoing academic eligibility issue.

For the last time, wide receiver Dezmon Epps has been dismissed from the Idaho football team. Coach Paul Petrino made the move yesterday. Epps ended up “violating the conditions set forth in the disciplinary actions that had been taken earlier in the season,” according to the statement. Epps did that by “going out” the night he was accused of slapping his girlfriend at a Pullman bar. Epps, a senior from Sacramento, was a 2013 junior college transfer from City College of San Francisco. He missed all of last season for disciplinary reasons but was allowed back on the squad earlier this year. Epps’ final totals over roughly a season and a half were 140 catches, 1,742 yards and six touchdowns.

Two things regarding BYU. First, the Cougars’ game at Missouri Saturday is on after all following the resignation of University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe. The Tigers football team had refused to participate in team activities until Wolfe either resigned or was fired—in protest over his handling of racial tension on campus. Also, a viewer of last Friday’s BYU-San Jose game pointed out to me that the crowd, most of which was made up of Cougar fans, had Thunder Stix. Remember those? He thought there was a ban against those and other artificial noisemakers at Mountain West games. I did, too. Does it not apply to non-conference visitors?

Sports Illustrated’s College Basketball Preview issue is out, complete with a “November Madness” feature projecting the NCAA Tournament field at the end of the season. Boise State is in the brackets—however, SI has the Broncos going back to the First Four in Dayton for the third time in four years. Perish the thought. At least they’re not slated to play the host Dayton Flyers, to whom they lost 56-55 in an entirely unfair pairing before 12,592 hostile fans last March. SI says the opponent will be Davidson. You know who else the magazine has going to the First Four? Montana, the team Boise State visits Friday night to open the 2015-16 season.

The College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball teams meet for the 199th time tonight in Game 1 of this year’s United Heritage Mayors’ Cup series. The oldest basketball rivalry in the state, dating back to 1933, will be renewed at the Johnson Sports Center in Nampa. The Canyon County showdown will consist of a home-and-home series for the seventh straight year, with the wrapup set for November 24 in Caldwell. It’s the first game of the season for the Crusaders, although they are playing it as an exhibition (it’s a counter for the Yotes).

In his third PGA Tour event of the season, Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge collected the second-largest paycheck of his career, earning $86,100 after tying for 12th yesterday at the rain-delayed Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, MS. Aldridge shot a three-under 69 in the final round, keyed by three birdies on the back nine. Graham DeLaet was the only golfer of the tournament to take two double-bogeys, but at least he made the cut. The former Boise State star tied for 33rd and made $21,662.

One of the struggling Idaho Steelheads’ best players won’t be with them when their nine-game road swing begins Thursday night in Orlando. Swedish forward Emil Molin has been recalled by the AHL’s Texas Stars after scoring three goals and adding an assist in the Steelheads’ last four games. Molin, who has played all 11 game for the Steelies this season, is tied for second on the team in goals (four) and points (nine).

This Day In Sports…November 10, 2005, 10 years ago today:

On the fourth anniversary of the night it started, Boise State’s 31-game WAC winning streak is snapped in a 27-7 loss at Fresno State on ESPN. The Broncos scored on their second play from scrimmage—a 67-yard run by Jeff Carpenter—but were stifled the rest of the way by the Bulldogs. Paul Pinegar’s 307 passing yards led Fresno State’s victory, its first conference win over BSU after four years of frustrating nationally-televised losses. The Broncos have only lost to the Bulldogs once since.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)