New Mexico to the next power

The closer we get to the game against Air Force, the bigger the task the Boise State defense appears to face. The closer we get to Friday night’s game against Air Force, the bigger the task the Boise State defense appears to face. That’s because reality is setting in. Air Force put up pinball numbers in its 35-28 win over Utah State last week—not on the ground per se, but in the passing game. The passing game? Karson Roberts was 11-of-17 for 271 yards, the most by a Falcon in 26 years. That’s a whopping 24.6 yards per completion. And wide receiver Jalen Robinette finished with seven receptions for 210 yards, the third highest single-game receiving total in Air Force history. So what did Air Force’s vaunted running game do versus the Aggies? It rolled up 309 yards. You have a carbon copy of the Lobos, albeit a more polished one, about to hit the blue turf.

If this passing out of the triple option all sounds familiar, well, New Mexico pulled a similar feat on Boise State last week at Albertsons Stadium. The Broncos allowed completions of 81, 46, 42 and 30 yards. The 81-yarder in the third quarter was the turning point in the game. The Lobos’ two quarterbacks averaged a whopping 24.2 yards per completion (refer to paragraph one). The Boise State back seven were drilled by coaches all during the bye week on their “eyes”—having their eyes right when New Mexico QBs would ambush with the pass. Maybe the lessons will take hold against Air Force. The Broncos are clearly missing senior cornerback Donte Deayon, who is likely to be out for the fourth straight game Friday night.

Here’s the official scenario in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West as provided by the conference. Air Force and New Mexico control their own destiny. The Falcons win the division with victories over Boise State and UNM. They can also do it with a triumph on the blue turf and a New Mexico loss against Colorado State Saturday, or with a loss at Boise State, a victory at New Mexico and a Bronco loss at San Jose State. The Lobos win the division if they defeat Colorado State and Air Force. Finally, Boise State can still win the division with victories over Air Force and San Jose State and a loss by New Mexico in one of its last two games.

It was a life-changing moment for David Lucero—in a very, very bad way. The Boise State tight end was arrested yesterday for felony attempted strangulation involving a female with whom he’s acquainted and was booked into the Ada County Jail. Lucero has been suspended indefinitely by the football program. The tolerance for domestic violence these days is zero, and unless he’s proven innocent, he will never play for the Broncos again. It’s a distraction for a team that hardly needs one right now. Lucero had four catches for 63 yards as a redshirt freshman this season, just missing on touchdowns against BYU and Wyoming.

So far, so good for Jay Ajayi in Miami. The former Boise State standout had six carries for 48 yards Sunday in the Dolphins’ 20-19 win at Philadelphia, including a 24-yard run. That gives the Jay-Train 11 attempts for 89 yards in his first two NFL games, more than eight yards per tote. Already there’s talk in Miami about what to do with starting running back Lamar Miller’s contract situation. Miller is poised to become a free agent at the end of the season. Ajayi, who costs Miami a lot less money, could be the man in 2016 if he keeps playing well.

How in the world will Auburn pay attention to Idaho with the Iron Bowl against Alabama looming? We’ll find out, as the Vandals venture into Jordan Hare Stadium Saturday. In fact, one of the rotating headlines on the Tigers’ website reads, “Iron Bowl time.” Isn’t that game a week from Saturday? (Actually, that story is merely announcing the kickoff time for the game against the Crimson Tide.) Auburn wasn’t very focused the week before its game at LSU in September, when it got lucky in getting by Jacksonville State in overtime. And the Tigers only beat San Jose State 35-21 last month. Hope springs eternal.

D-League rosters fluctuate by definition. It’s the NBA Development League, and when players develop, they get their shots in the NBA (or at big money overseas). But right now, the Idaho Stampede’s roster looks pretty good going into the home opener tonight against the Iowa Energy in CenturyLink Arena. The Stampede lost Phil Pressey to the Philadelphia 76ers before the season even started, but the lineup was bolstered Monday by the re-signing of former Notre Dame star Jack Cooley. He brings 16 games of NBA experience to add to Jeff Ayres’ 51 NBA appearances. Ayres, the Arizona State product, was the No. 1 overall pick in the D-League Draft on Halloween. The Stamps are 1-1 going into tonight’s contest, and Iowa is 1-0.

Chandler Hutchison looks like a guy who’s going to put up numbers this season. It’s apparent that his role is much bigger now for Boise State. The sophomore from Mission Viejo, CA, recorded his first career double-double Monday night in the Broncos’ 101-81 win over Northern Arizona with 12 points and 11 rebounds. It’s that second number that’s most important to coach Leon Rice. “What Chandler can be for us is that he can go rebound, he’s a great passer, he can see the floor, he can guard all kinds of different positions, he can slash,” said Rice. “So he just needs to be our utility infielder that can play all the positions and do all of the different things.” Now Boise State has to take on the non-directional Arizona, the real Wildcats in Tucson tomorrow night. Arizona is ranked 12th in the AP Poll and 10th on the Coaches’ list.

The change has done Joey Nebeker good. The one-time Boise State forward out of Melba is thriving at College of Idaho, and now he’s the Cascade Conference Player of the Week. Nebeker scored 38 points in the first leg of the United Heritage Mayors Cup last week, the overtime loss at NNU. It was the highest output by a Yote in four seasons. Nebeker also added 23 points in a loss at Westminster last Saturday. C of I returns home this weekend to host the Domino’s Classic, meeting Montana Tech on Friday and Metro State on Saturday.

Idaho Steelheads coach Neil Graham is trying to be the voice of reason with his team, which is struggling to snap a losing streak that has reached six games. “The message right now to the guys is, we’re not getting blown out, we’re not a bad hockey team, we’re just in a rut,” Graham said yesterday on KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk. “We’ll find our groove before too long.” Graham points out that nine of the Steelheads’ 14 games have been one-goal affairs. The Steelies are still two weeks away from home ice—they open a three-game series at Colorado tonight. Just in time, they got one of their top-scoring players, Emil Molin, back from the AHL’s Texas Stars.

Another honor for Allie Ostrander. Boise State’s true freshman phenom has been named the West Region Women’s Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Ostrander won the NCAA West Regionals in Seattle last Friday by 22 seconds and has won or finished second in every race she’s entered this year. Also, the Broncos’ Corey Ihmels has been tabbed West Region Women’s Coach of the Year.

This Day In Sports…November 18, 1995, 20 years ago today:

Two years before he scores the first points in Idaho Stampede history, Wake Forest quarterback Rusty LaRue sets an NCAA record for pass completions over a three-game stretch when he completes 50 passes in a 52-23 loss to North Carolina State. LaRue was 50-of-67 on the day for a school-record 545 yards. Combined with his 55-of-78 outing (478 yards) versus Duke and his 41-of-65 day (501 yards) against Georgia Tech, LaRue connected on 146 passes over Wake Forest’s final three games of the season.

(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.)