Never before this season had we seen Boise State move the ball as crisply on offense nor pursue more doggedly on defense.Any questions about the Broncos’ ability to handle success following the rollicking comeback versus Utah State were answered Saturday evening with an 87-53 thrashing of Fresno State. Not only was it Boise State’s biggest margin of victory in a conference road game in nearly 16 years, it was the Bulldogs’ worst loss ever in Save Mart Center. You can point to any of a number of Boise State runs as the key to the rout, but I’ll go with this one. After Fresno State had pulled to within 47-37 with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game, the Broncos finished on a 40-16 run. Their largest lead of the night, 34 points, was the last one.
Boise State is pretty good when it has multiple weapons clicking at the same time. It hasn’t been happening with regularity, but the Broncos had it going at Fresno State. In the first half, Justinian Jessup took his turn, setting aside his road-shooting woes to hit four three-pointers. Jessup finished with 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds. In the second half, Abu Kigab was the main man, putting up 14 of his game-high 23 points. It’s the fifth time in Kigab’s 11 games as a Bronco he’s scored 15 or more points. Also, Derrick Alston and R.J. Williams each scored 14 points and combined for nine assists. And RayJ Dennis, in his next outing following his epic performance against USU, had only four points, but he dished out five assists.
The joy of Saturday night’s victory—of any victory—was deflated by the gut-wrenching news that Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41, along with Bryant’s daughter Gianna and seven others, Sunday morning in a helicopter crash. Kigab was one of the millions crushed by Bryant’s death, tweeting, “You are the reason I wear number 24 on the court! You inspired me and so many others to find the best versions of ourself! Thank you for everything you’ve done both on and off the court! You’ll live with us forever!” The Lakers played the Seattle SuperSonics in an exhibition game in the BSU Pavilion in October, 1996. Kobe was a new Laker, fresh out of high school, two months after his 18th birthday. He didn’t suit up, but he was on the bench in a sweater and slacks as everyone wondered how good he would be. So very good, on so many levels.
BACHMEIER’S BIG RESET BUTTON
Spring football promises to be valuable for Hank Bachmeier, as the Boise State sophomore is likely to get almost all of the No. 1 reps at quarterback. Coach Bryan Harsin guested on Idaho SportsTalk Friday and said Chase Cord’s health status for spring drills is undetermined. “Chase has had some things cleaned up, and he’s rehabbing right now,” said Harsin. Mike Prater mentioned that Cord’s right arm/shoulder is currently in a sling. If Cord is limited, this will be the second straight spring that he’s missed snaps. He was out all last spring while healing the torn ACL he suffered in practice in October, 2018. Bachmeier is moving on from his last on-field memory, the 119-yard passing night against Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl.
FOUR OPTIONS = ONE, REALLY
Developments in the world of Boise State football have provided word count opportunities for national writers. Bill Bender of Sporting News penned a column headlined, “Weighing Boise State’s four best options if it leaves Mountain West.” The routes he came up with (in order) were the AAC, independence, the Pac-12 and the Big 12. It’s important to quickly point out that independence would be bad news, and that Bender downplays the chances of the latter two options ever happening. One key factor? Attendance. While the Broncos were No. 1 in the Mountain West last season, they were No. 67 overall in the FBS. A Big 12 schedule would surely make a difference, but would it really sell out Albertsons Stadium every time out? That’s what would have to happen short of any expansion plans for the facility.
Writes Bender: “When the Big 12 held an audition of sorts for possible expansion, Boise State was one of the best candidates in the pool. But the Broncos would have the 10th-best home attendance in the Big 12, only ahead of Kansas. Every other school in the conference ranks in the top 50. It’s a deal where Boise State fits from a football perspective—they would be able to compete with Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State on a yearly basis—but the regional interest in the Broncos simply wouldn’t justify their inclusion.” True, maybe. A move to the Power 5 would mean a significant attendance bump, though. In 2011, TCU’s last season in the Mountain West, its average attendance was 33,686. In 2012, the Horned Frogs’ first year in the Big 12, their average was 46,047, 104 percent of capacity.
STEELIES STOPPED COLD SUNDAY
It’s unusual for Idaho Steelheads standout goalie Tomas Sholl to be pulled during a game, but after allowing five goals through the first two periods Sunday in Tulsa, coach Everett Sheen had to make a move. Colton Point came on to finish the 6-2 loss to the Oilers, the Steelheads’ second defeat of a three-game weekend. The Steelies’ first two contests were at Kansas City, and they did manage a 4-3 shootout victory Friday night. Captain A.J. White started the scoring for Idaho in that one, and he finished it when he was the only player on either team to find the net in the shootout.
AROUND THE HOOPS HORN
The Fresno State women went on a stunning 35-point fourth-quarter scoring spree Saturday afternoon to blow past Boise State 85-80 in ExtraMile Arena. It was a devastating loss for the Broncos, who had a 17-point lead in the second quarter and a 10-point advantage with less than nine minutes left in the fourth. Two controversial moments helped the Bulldogs at the end: a charge called on Jayde Christopher with 16 seconds remaining when the opponent’s feet didn’t appear to be close to stationary, and a no-call when it looked like Riley Lupfer was fouled on a three-point attempt with three seconds left. Boise State now sits three games behind Fresno State in the Mountain West race.
Ricardo Time went 1-for-5 from the field for No. 3 College of Idaho Friday night. But the bucket he made was one he’ll never forget. Time drained a three-pointer with two seconds left to carry the Coyotes past No. 15 Southern Oregon 73-72 in Caldwell. The Yotes trailed 72-64 with 55 seconds left—then scored the final nine points of the game to win it. C of I followed with a 70-59 win Saturday night over No. 5 Oregon Tech, led by Nate Bruneel’s 25 points. The Yotes’ win streak is now 13 games. And Northwest Nazarene won its fifth game in a row Saturday night, beating Concordia in Portland 75-60. The Nighthawks have moved into a tie for third in the GNAC.
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January 27, 2013: Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin becomes the first former Boise State player ever to score a touchdown in the Pro Bowl, pulling in a 28-yard pass from a fellow standout rookie, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. The score helped the NFC rout the AFC 62-35 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Martin’s first year in the NFL produced 1,454 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, plus 49 receptions for 472 yards and another TD. His 1,926 yards from scrimmage were the third-most in the NFL that season. He also set a Bucs’ record by rushing for 251 yards in a November game at Oakland.
(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.)