One sunny kickoff will have to suffice

There was this faint, faint hope that—since Boise State and Utah State have an excellent chance of being ranked with a Mountain West championship game berth on the line in the final game of the regular season—we’d all catch a break. Maybe the kickoff would end up earlier than usual with increased national interest. But, no. The start time for the game was announced yesterday as good ol’ 8:15 p.m. It will air on either ESPN or ESPN2. That’s the consolation prize for the football program. But we’re talkin’ November 24 here. The No. 1 reason the Boise State-Fresno State game didn’t fill up last Friday was the late start. I heard that from plenty of people—unsolicited. It’s just too bad.

With that said, consider this before anyone goes off berating the Boise State fans who watch on TV. There’ll still probably be 33,000 diehards there for the Utah State game, and any school in the Mountain West would do anything for 33,000 diehards. Especially with the noise they make in Albertsons Stadium. The Broncos have a healthy lead in Mountain West attendance, averaging 34,370 per game. San Diego State is well over 2,000 behind the Broncos. And did you happen to catch any wide shots of the Nevada-Colorado State game in Reno Saturday night? Nobody there. Well, except for the 13,755 they counted. There is no homefield advantage in the conference anywhere close to that of the blue turf.

In the twilight of his college career, Brett Rypien is showing another dimension to his game. Here comes Ryp against Fresno State running the quarterback draw and the read-option. Who’d a thunk it? And would you believe? Rypien now has positive rushing yardage for the season after netting 30 against the Bulldogs. How does 60 carries for eight yards sound? Rypien’s still doing well at his day job: throwing the ball. His pass efficiency rating for the season is a strong 159.8. He just behind the 163.3 of Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion, who he faced last Friday, and the 164.4 of Utah State’s Jordan Love, who he faces a week from Saturday.

Rypien was named one of eight Manning Award “Stars of the Week” yesterday after throwing for 269 yards on 24-of-29 passing against one of the nation’s best defenses. He also became the Mountain West’s all-time leading passer with 12,924 yards. Rypien bookended his night against Fresno State perfectly. His first throw, a 41-yarder to Sean Modster, broke the conference career record. His final pass, the 49-yard touchdown toss to Khalil Shakir, won the game. Speaking of milestones, Bryan Harsin coached his 50th Boise State victory Friday night, reaching the mark in less than five years. Do the math. That’s pretty good.

It’s not often that Boise State would say they’d like to see a Mountain West Player of the Week as much as possible. But that’ll be the case with New Mexico’s Tyson Dyer, who earned special teams honors from the conference yesterday. Dyer is a sophomore punter from Queensland, Australia, and he averaged 50.1 yards per boot at Air Force on Saturday. That included an 84-yard punt, the longest in Lobos history and the fourth-longest ever in the Mountain West. But the Broncos would just as soon have Dyer punt, like, eight or nine times Friday night. Not to dismiss the importance of punting. Boise State is currently dead last in net punting in the conference at just 31.9 yards per boot.

Who’s back in the picture in the West Division? It’s the Nevada Wolf Pack. With San Diego State’s shocking 27-24 loss to UNLV, Nevada has moved into a tie for second in the West with the Aztecs. An SDSU win at division-leading Fresno State this Saturday coupled with a Pack victory at San Jose State would create a three-way tie atop the West. Nevada has become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2015, joining Boise State, Fresno State, Utah State and San Diego State as postseason probabilities. Hawaii needs one more win to reach bowl status—as it has for more than a month. The Rainbow Warriors have lost four in a row and host the Rebels this week. This looked like the game that would get UH to the promised land, but UNLV suddenly has momentum.

Leon Rice was uncharacteristically blunt about his Boise State men’s basketball team after it frittered away an 18-point lead Saturday night and was stunned by Idaho State. We don’t know what Rice says to the team behind closed doors, but I don’t think I’ve heard comments like this publicly in his eight previous seasons as head coach. “We just didn’t show any toughness and that’s what really bothers me,” said Rice. “I have a zero tolerance for that. Our teams the last eight years haven’t been like that. We had guys playing scared.” And Rice would come back to that word. “We just made scared plays down the stretch and I’m not going to stand for that,” he said. Forget the Cayman Islands Classic and Oregon coming down the pike. The Broncos have some stuff to get done Friday night against Jackson State.

It’s time for the first leg of the United Heritage Mayors’ Cup tonight between College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene. The game serves as the Coyotes’ home opener after a 6-0 start away from the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. NNU opened its season with a 107-90 win over Northwest Christian last Friday at Johnson Sports Center. By C of I’s count, this is the 205th renewal of the Battle of Canyon County, the oldest hoops rivalry in the state of Idaho, dating back to 1933. The Yotes lead the series 120-79 not counting exhibition games (NNU is playing tonight’s contest as an exhibition). The teams split the Mayors’ Cup series last year, with the Nighthawks winning 76-70 in Nampa and the Yotes prevailing 78-68 in Caldwell.

Finally, a blast from the Idaho Stampede past. You may have read that former BYU star Jimmer Fredette scored 75 points for the Shanghai Sharks Sunday in a Chinese Basketball Association game, including 40 in the fourth quarter. But the Sharks lost to the Beijing BeiKong Fly Dragons, 137-136. The catalyst for Beijing? Pierre Jackson, the former Stampede standout, poured in 63 points, including the game-winning three-pointer. Jackson, who’s averaging 44.7 points per game, scored what was then a D-League record 58 points for the Stamps in a game on Valentine’s Day, 2014. The record has since been broken—Jackson’s 58 is currently tied for the second-most in the history of what is now the G-League.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BIG BUN DRIVE-IN…old-time goodness you can grab on the go!

November 13, 2004: It’s Breakfast With The Broncos, as the Boise State-San Jose State game becomes a late addition to the ESPN2 lineup and kicks off at 10 a.m. Mountain time, 9 a.m. Pacific. The Broncos and Spartans took up much of the network’s midday airwaves, going two overtimes before Boise State survived, 56-49. The star of the day was sophomore safety Gerald Alexander, who blocked a San Jose State field goal attempt with 1:11 left in regulation that would have won the game for San Jose State and ruined the Broncos’ undefeated regular season.

(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.)