It’s been awhile, Rainbow Warriors

The divisional rotation has kept them apart. Hawaii and Boise State face off for the first time since 2012. The Mountain West’s divisional rotation has kept them apart. Hawaii and Boise State face each other on Saturday for the first time since 2012, UH’s first season in the conference. That was a 49-14 Bronco win at Aloha Stadium. The teams didn’t play in 2011 when Hawaii was still in the WAC. So this will be the Warriors’ first visit to Albertsons Stadium since 2010. That was a pretty amazing day on the blue turf. Make-A-Wish kid Stephen Kinsey, the cancer patient from San Antonio, was coach for a day and led the team onto the field holding Shea McClellin’s hand. McClellin had the Hammer in his other hand. Then Boise State amassed a school-record 742 yards of total offense, and Kellen Moore put up a career-high 507 passing yards. The Bronco defense limited Hawaii to 196 yards. That the final score was only 42-7 was remarkable.

This was a good rivalry during the June Jones years at Hawaii. There always seemed to be a lot at stake when the Broncos and Warriors played. Boise State survived passing onslaughts during quarterback Colt Brennan’s first two seasons at UH but finally succumbed in his final year. It was a 39-27 loss in Honolulu in the de facto WAC championship game, sending Hawaii to the Sugar Bowl. On the other hand, there were some Bronco blowouts, the most stunning of which was a 69-3 romp on ESPN2 in 2004 on a night when Warriors quarterback Timmy Chang was trying to become college football’s career passing yards leader. Instead, he threw four interceptions.

Boise State had its passing game looking a lot more Bronco-like in the 56-14 rout of Virginia last Friday, from Brett Rypien’s 321 yards through the air to Thomas Sperbeck’s two touchdowns. What would this offense look like if Boise State’s running game started producing consistently? The Broncos have netted fewer than 100 yards on the ground in two of their last three games (64 at BYU and 89 at Virginia) and had that 31-yard second half versus Washington. Of course, coach Bryan Harsin points out that in the Virginia game, BSU masqueraded part of its rushing attack in its short passing game. Shane Williams-Rhodes and Jeremy McNichols combined for 11 catches, and tight end Jake Roh had five.

In its 28-0 loss At Wisconsin last week, Hawaii had trouble stopping the ground attack of the Badgers, which sometimes lined up with two tight ends and two fullbacks in addition to its running back. You could see the Broncos trying that, using four tight ends with two in the backfield (Alec Dhaenens and Jake Hardee, for example). Would that create some opportunities for Jeremy McNichols, provided he’s over the bell-ringing from the game in Charlottesville? McNichols was shaken up on a hit to the helmet after a reception late in the third quarter last Friday and did not return. Coach Bryan Harsin said Monday he didn’t expect any of his newly nicked-up players outside of Dylan Sumner-Gardner to miss the Hawaii game.

Former Boise State coach Chris Petersen always said his favorite offensive stat was pass efficiency rating. I’m sure Harsin would not disagree. It’s a revealing number right now for Rypien. Put his Virginia performance together with roughly one quarter of work against Idaho State, and you have an outstanding rating of 180.6. Rypien hasn’t logged enough time to qualify for Mountain West stats, but if he qualified, he’d be No. 1. Current leader Joe Gray of San Jose State would be a distant second at 162.0. For Rypien, it’s a combination of everything—a 72.7 percent completion rate, more than 10 yards per attempt, and three touchdowns versus no interceptions. Now he just has to keep it up.

Gotta get this postscript in from the Virginia game. Former Texas coach Mack Brown, Harsin’s one-time boss when he was the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator, was the analyst on last Friday’s ESPN telecast. Brown also hired former Boise State quarterback Taylor Tharp as a graduate assistant at Texas. Tharp spent two years in Austin before returning to Boise as the Broncos’ director of player personnel. I couldn’t help but notice that every time Brown referred to the Cavaliers’ star wide receiver, T.J. Thorpe (the guy who caught UVa’s 75-yard touchdown pass), he called him “Tharp.” Coincidence? I think not.

Nevada is hoping to fill Mackay Stadium for Saturday’s battle for the Fremont Cannon against UNLV. It rarely happens, but the Rebels have created some intrigue after their 80-8 blasting of Idaho State last week. The Wolf Pack will be without defensive tackle Rykeem Yates, who has to sit out the showdown after being ejected for a targeting penalty last week at Buffalo, the second of his career.

Here’s my question: why is the Nevada-UNLV game being played on October 3? Remember the magic of rivalry weekend in late November way back when? The two fiercest rivalries in the Mountain West are Nevada-UNLV and Colorado State-Wyoming. The Rams and Cowboys face off November 7 in the Border War. Those two games should be played Thanksgiving weekend. So should Boise State-Utah State, for that matter. As much as the BSU-San Jose State game might mean the day after Thanksgiving, it feels kind of empty.

I’m sure Idaho would rather be talking about its Sun Belt matchup at Arkansas State on Saturday. I know I would. Instead, the Vandals are dealing with some anonymous e-mail alleging that coach Paul Petrino is verbally abusive in practice and breaks NCAA rules on practice time. The e-mailer identifies himself “Joe Adams,” who claims to be part of the team. Nobody seems to know who Joe Adams is. Maybe he was emboldened by this week’s Sports Illustrated story on abusive coaches? Petrino has denied the allegations. But why? It’s an anonymous e-mail.

There’s one less Bronco drawing an NFL paycheck today. Blake Renaud, the linebacker-turned-fullback, has been released from the Minnesota Vikings’ practice squad. Renaud was one of the Vikings’ final cuts before the season started. He was a blocking back in August preseason games but got a few rushing attempts and even scored a touchdown. At Boise State, Renaud totaled 120 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, and two fumble recoveries in his career.

A former NHLer is aboard with the Idaho Steelheads in time for training camp, which begins Monday. Carson McMillan, who split the 2014-15 season between the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and two AHL teams, was a seventh-round draft pick of Minnesota in 2007 and played 16 games for the Wild between 2010 and 2014. The 27-year-old forward has registered 52 goals and 114 points in 389 career pro regular-season games.

This Day In Sports…September 30, 1927:

Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hits his 60th and final home run of the season off Washington’s Tom Zachary. It was the culmination of a stretch in the Roaring 20’s that saw Ruth change the face of baseball, adding the long ball to the national pastime. The Babe’s record would stand until 1961, when Roger Maris hit 61 for the Yankees.

(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.)