I’ve told several stories about my time in the broadcast booth with Paul J. Schneider, but today, on the day he retires from KBOI, I’ll just be a fan, because I am. I remember a Saturday night in October, 1974, when I was 23. Twenty-three year-olds usually have previous plans on a Saturday night, but I really wanted to listen to Boise State’s game against UNLV. Both were elite Division II teams at the time. I literally paced around the house listening to Paul J.’s energy steadily rise as the Broncos rallied from a 37-6 deficit early in the second half to pull to within 37-35 in the final two minutes. Pace, pace, pace. Boise State got the ball back—and the game ended with an interception on the Rebels’ 17-yard-line. Paul J. made it a heart-pounding experience. You probably have a similar story. Fare thee well, pal.
BOWL PREP AND COMMITMENT-COUNTING
Coach Bryan Harsin told the media Thursday that running back Alexander Mattison has been going through Boise State’s bowl practices, an indicator that he will play in the First Responder Bowl versus Boston College. Harsin said no decision has been made yet—that he knows of—on Mattison leaving early for the NFL Draft, but the junior has requested a draft grade from the NFL advisory committee. Even if Mattison does leave, Harsin points out what last year’s Las Vegas Bowl did for Leighton Vander Esch. LVE was dominant in the win over Oregon and parlayed that into the No. 19 overall pick in the draft. “So many highlights have come from that last game,” said Harsin. “That propelled him.” Let’s also harken back to Jay Ajayi, who had a big game in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl after declaring early for the draft.
Two of this week’s three “silent commits” have been revealed. STUD end Dylan Hall of Antelope Valley, CA, tweeted his commitment to Boise State Thursday afternoon. Hall is a 6-5, 230 pounder who can also play linebacker, which is common for those at the STUD position. Hall, a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports, held seven scholarship offers from Power 5 schools, along with six Mountain West schools. Markel Reed, a 6-1 cornerback from Temple, TX, has also announced his commitment. Reed is also a three-star, and he also had seven Power 5 offers as well. These sure sound like good gets for the Broncos.
Brett Rypien and his immediate Boise State predecessor at quarterback, Ryan Finley, are going to have a common opponent after all this season. Boston College lost 28-23 at North Carolina State on October 6, and Finley threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, although he did toss two interceptions. If Rypien can duplicate that—minus the picks—against the Eagles in the First Responder Bowl, you have to like the Broncos’ chances. It’s amazing how close the two former teammates are in senior year stats. Finley has thrown for 3,789 yards and 24 TDs against nine interceptions. Rypien has 3,705 yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven picks. Finley has played one less game.
Speaking of North Carolina State, the Tarheels will be without offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, the former Boise State O.C., when they face Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Drinkwitz has been hired as the new head coach at Appalachian State, replacing Louisville-bound Scott Satterfield. Drinkwitz, who’s only 35 (and still looks 25), has a high standard to uphold with the Sun Belt champions. He was Harsin’s first offensive coordinator with the Broncos, leaving for NC State after the 2015 season. That’s the year Finley went down with an ankle injury and Rypien took over. Drinkwitz facilitated Finley’s transfer to the Tarheels after spring football in 2016.
QB’S CARRYING THE MOUNTAIN WEST BANNER
In a perfect world, the first two bowl games involving Mountain West teams would be a showcase Saturday for two of the conference’s top quarterbacks. Fresno State’s Marcus McMaryion, ninth in the nation in pass efficiency, will test a Pac-12 defense when the Bulldogs take on Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. McMaryion passed his first Pac-12 exam in September in a 38-14 rout of UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Utah State’s Jordan Love, who’s 12th in the country in efficiency, will be facing North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl. Love’s last game, of course, was on the blue turf in the 33-24 loss to Boise State. He threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns on the Broncos, but it took him 47 attempts to do it. And 83 of the yards came on the screen pass for a TD with three minutes left in the game.
BRONCO FAN FAVORITE GIVES L.A. A TRY
Donte Deayon’s NFL days are not over. The former Boise State cornerback, who surprised skeptics by making the New York Giants roster again at the beginning of this season before being released in mid-October, has been signed to the L.A Rams practice squad. He’s the unlikeliest of NFL players, currently listed as 5-9, 159 pounds. But Deayon played in eight games over the past two seasons with the Giants, with 16 tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery. If Deayon can stick with the Rams, his smile will light up Hollywood.
BRONCOS, DUCKS WITH VERY DIFFERENT LOOKS
Is Boise State ready for this? The Broncos took down Oregon with a buzzer-beater from near mid-court by Lexus Williams last year. But there’s no Williams this year—nor Chandler Hutchison, nor Chris Sengfelder—as they take on the Ducks Saturday in Matthew Knight Arena. That’s a key reason Boise State is just 4-5 this season. Whatever happens in Eugene, the Broncos will get another shot at Oregon when the Ducks come to Taco Bell Arena in two weeks for the return game in this year’s series. “My guys have really, really stepped up and surprised me in these games,” said coach Leon Rice of the past three matchups with UO, pointing out that the combined score is 210-210.
Rice is very aware of the Ducks’ Bol Bol, son of former NBA center Manute Bol. The younger Bol is 7-2. His dad was 7-6. “The things he can do athletically and skill-wise are amazing,” said Rice. What’s he talking about? Well, Bol is ranked third in the Pac-12 in scoring at 21.0 points per game, fifth in rebounding with a 9.6 average, second in blocked shots at 2.7 per game, and—get this—fifth in three-point percentage at 52 percent. Hard to figure who on the Bronco squad is going to stop him.
AROUND THE HORN
The Boise State women go to Seattle for the Husky Classic this weekend. The 6-2 Broncos face Saint Francis tomorrow and will play either host Washington or Montana on Sunday. The College of Idaho men put their new No. 1 NAIA Division II ranking on the line with weekend road clashes at Corban and Northwest Christian. And on the ice, the Idaho Steelheads wtrap up their series against Kansas City with a pair of games in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads bounced back from a 5-1 thumping by Utah last Saturday with a 5-1 rout of the Mavericks Wednesday night.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
December 14, 1995: Nevada plays in the first overtime game in Division I-A history, falling to Toledo in the Las Vegas Bowl, 40-37. Overtime was instituted at college football’s highest level for the 1995 bowl season, then became standard during the 1996 regular season. But it wasn’t the Wolf Pack’s first foray into overtime, which had been played at the lower levels since the late 1980’s. In fact, two of Nevada’s games in the 1990 Division I-AA playoffs went three overtimes, including the classic in the semi-finals that ended in a 59-52 victory over Boise State.
(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.)