Must have been the beet juice

During the Boise State-Wyoming game Saturday, Root Sports ran a clip of coach Leon Rice talking about combatting elevation issues by having his players drink beet juice. It worked. Rice used 10 players on his beet juice-fueled travel roster, and the Broncos rolled over the Cowboys 80-65 in Laramie. No Bronco reached 30 minutes of floor time in the game. Each Bronco who played scored at least two points, and each had at least two rebounds. “The important thing is you don’t destroy them in the first six minutes,” said Rice of the 7,220-foot elevation on the KBOI post game show. “Once they have their second wind, they’re fine. We threw a lot of fresh bodies out there.” It was an impressive answer to last Wednesday night’s 19-point loss to Nevada.

Rice started James Reid in place of Paris Austin, who had gone just 2-for-9 from the field against Nevada. Reid was pretty good as a starter, nailing a trio of three-pointers and leading the Broncos with 16 points. And Austin was pretty good coming off the bench, which he did less than four minutes into the game. He scored six quick points on lay-ins and finished with 15. But the big news was the true reserves, especially Marcus Dickinson and Alex Hobbs, who had played less than a minute at the end of the game versus the Wolf Pack. Dickinson played 18 minutes, scored six points and dished out four assists in Laramie. It was eye-opening even for Rice. “At one time I looked out there and we had three true freshmen in a road game in the Mountain West,” he said.

Boise State got some defensive mojo back in this one. After allowing nine three-pointers against Nevada, the Broncos returned to this season’s specialty: defending the arc. Wyoming missed its first 14 three-point attempts Saturday and was just 3-for-21 for the game. The Cowboys also shot just 40 percent from the field and were out-rebounded by 11. Boise State is now halfway through the Mountain West season and is 6-3 in conference play, tied for second with Colorado State, who rallied past San Diego State 78-77 Saturday in Viejas Arena—and who awaits the Broncos in Fort Collins tomorrow night.

When wide receiver Bryan Thompson decommitted from Boise State four weeks ago, the Broncos lost a large complement (6-1, 185 pounds) to Cedrick Wilson in the receiving corps. BSU got one back yesterday with a verbal from Octavius Evans, a 6-2, 200-pound wideout from Center, TX. Evans also reportedly had offers from Mississippi State, Indiana, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Sean Seawards, the massive offensive lineman from Scottsdale, AZ, who had just verbaled a week earlier, confirmed yesterday he has decommitted from Boise State. Seawards received an offer from UCLA and officially visited the Bruins over the weekend. We are less than 48 hours away from National Letter of Intent Day.

Even though Dave Southorn beat me to it yesterday, let’s kick off Super Bowl week with a little history. Shea McClellin will be the ninth different Boise State player to actually appear in a Super Bowl when he suits up for New England against Atlanta. The first was Grandview’s Rolly Woolsey, a rookie for Dallas in 1976. There wasn’t another until Markus Koch, who played for Washington in 1988. Then it was another 17 years before Quintin Mikell participated with Philadelphia in 2005. Since then there’s been Kimo von Oelhoffen for Pittsburgh in 2006, Daryn Colledge and Korey Hall with Green Bay in 2011, Jeron Johnson for Seattle in 2015 (he was on injured reserve with the Seahawks in 2014, the year they won it), and Matt Paradis for Denver in 2016.

Former Boise State star Jay Ajayi was the first running back off the bench for the AFC last night in the Pro Bowl. The Miami starter gained seven yards on the final two snaps of the first quarter (the AFC scored a touchdown on the first play of the second). Ajayi took a shot on his tender left shoulder at the end of a one-yard catch from Philip Rivers on the first play of the fourth quarter and did not return. He ended with seven carries for 18 yards and five receptions for 14 yards. And so officially ends Ajayi’s sophomore season in the NFL, a compact rags-to-riches story.

After a solid opening day at the Farmers Insurance Open, Graham DeLaet did a slow fade at Torrey Pines over the weekend. The former Boise State star still collected his first paycheck of 2017, though, earning $15,008 after finishing in a tie for 54th at even par. DeLaet struggled to a three-over 74 in yesterday’s final round, starting with two bogeys over his first four holes. But maybe his ailing back is improving as he plays more events.

It was a forgettable trip to the Frozen North for the Idaho Steelheads. Alaska finished a three-game sweep of the Steelheads over the weekend, capped by a 3-2 overtime win Saturday night. Idaho’s Kyle Jean had forced overtime on a shorthanded goal with less than three minutes left in regulation, but it was not to be. It was the Steelheads’ fourth loss in a 3-on-3 OT session in six tries this season. The Steelies were trying their best to erase a sour taste from Friday night, when they went up 2-0 on the Aces in the first period and then imploded. Alaska scored six unanswered goals and won going away, 6-2.

The Boise State women’s hoops team shrugged off its recent struggles Saturday and knocked off first-place Wyoming 64-54 in Taco Bell Arena. Marijke Vanderschaaf scored 20 points and Marta Hermida 16 for the Broncos, who host Colorado State Wednesday night. With the Lady Cowboys’ loss, CSU is now in sole possession of first place in the MW. Elsewhere, the Idaho men went overtime for the second straight night on its Montana trip, and this time the Vandals prevailed, beating the Grizzlies 85-77 in Missoula. College of Idaho picked up two wins in Caldwell, the first a 100-89 overtime defeat of Northwest University, followed by a 71-58 decision over Evergreen State. The Yotes’ Emanuel Morgan put up 27 points versus Northwest. And Northwest Nazarene held off Concordia 74-72 Saturday night.

The Boise State women’s gymnastics was staring at one of the top five team scores in school history against BYU Friday night at the Gem State Invitational in CenturyLink Arena. The Broncos then had to count a fall on floor exercise and settled for a 196.40—and a win over the Cougars. That’s still an outstanding score for this early in the season, though. Boise State had all four individual winners and the evening’s all-around champ, Sandra Collantes. Also, the Boise State wrestling team was racked 32-3 by Stanford Saturday in Bronco Gym, and the Bronco women’s swimming team routed defending Mountain West champion Nevada and defending WAC champion Northern Arizona at the Boise West Y.

This Day In Sports…January 30, 2004:

The Mountain West Conference extends—and TCU accepts—an invitation to join the league in 2005. It was a disappointing day for Boise State, which had hoped to be included in the Mountain West’s expansion. Commissioner Craig Thompson said the conference’s expansion talks will “at least pause, or cease”, while BSU president Robert Kustra tried to mobilize the money it will take to make the school a viable candidate in the future.

(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.)