Poinsettias for Christmas?

The rest of the December sports calendar will become clear Sunday when most bowl bids are issued. The rest of the December sports calendar will become clear Sunday when most bowl bids are issued. There’s no New Year’s Six drama this year for Boise State—really not a lot of drama at all if you believe the projections sending the Broncos to the Poinsettia Bowl December 23. That would essentially be a reward for beating San Jose State in the regular season finale. Had it lost at Spartan Stadium, there was a very real possibility Boise State would have played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Speaking of which, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl’s tie-ins with the Mountain West and the MAC are solid. Word is the December 22 matchup on the blue turf will be either Colorado State-Northern Illinois or Utah State-Central Michigan. Either one works. NIU knocked Toledo out of New Year’s Six contention last month and plays Bowling Green for the MAC championship tonight, while Utah State will bring some folks into the seats.

One Boise State Bronco with a lot of momentum going into the postseason is sophomore linebacker Joey Martarano. He made an entry into his personal record book last Friday with his first career interception, a fourth-quarter pick at San Jose State. Martarano’s amazing one-handed grab looked like, well, a third baseman snagging a liner. Something the Fruitland flash has done many, many times (although maybe not with his throwing hand). Martarano, just like last year, gained steam and saw his role expand as the season progressed, due to a combination of injuries to other linebackers, schematic tweaks and his own improvement. He’s fifth on the team in tackles with 48 and has 2½ tackles-for-loss.

All is set for the Mountain West championship game in San Diego tomorrow night. It seems every team in the conference has had at least one damaging letdown this season. You know all about Boise State. Well, Air Force had one last week at New Mexico, forfeiting its chance at hosting the title game. Fortunately for San Diego State, its massive disappointment came early, in September, when it stunningly lost at home to South Alabama in overtime. The Aztecs fell at Penn State a week later—then ran off eight straight Mountain West victories without a loss. Take away the upset by South Alabama, and San Diego State may have been able to position itself for New Year’s Six bowl consideration, but not now. Hopefully there’s a decent showing in Qualcomm Stadium for the Aztecs and Falcons.

There was a feature in the Deseret News this week about Eagle’s Tanner Mangum, and how he just had to choose BYU over Boise State when he was being recruited five years ago. One of Mangum’s great-grandfathers, Ernest L. Wilkerson, was the president of BYU from 1951-71. The student union building on campus is named after him. Two other buildings at BYU are named after another great-grandfather and a great-grandmother of Mangum. Blood is thicker than blue turf. So, Mangum’s long-awaited freshman season has come to an end, with the Las Vegas Bowl to go. He capped it with a four-touchdown performance in last Saturday’s win at Utah State. Mangum has become the Cougars’ first 3,000-yard passer in six years and the 13th in program history. He’s thrown for 3,062, to be exact, with 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Boise State is at Portland tomorrow night for its final non-conference road game of the season. Games against West Coast Conference teams have always provided Boise State with good prep for its conference season. The Broncos were 3-0 versus the WCC last year, with wins over San Diego, Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s. The latter was their signature victory of the non-conference schedule. The Pilots are 4-4 and are coming off a 78-72 win over crosstown rival Portland State Wednesday night. They’ve played one Mountain West team, falling to Colorado State 90-74 last Friday at the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic.

While the game at Portland will tell us something, the 100-36 victory over Willamette Wedsnesday night didn’t tell us much. Boise State did get much-needed floor time for its reserves, as all 11 eligible players logged double-digit minutes. The squad’s true depth is yet to be determined, though. Lonnie Jackson led the Broncos with 19 points, which may have seemed inconsequential had the Boston College graduate transfer not canned a trio of three-pointers in his previous outing last Sunday against Arizona. Anthony Drmic did get in after all versus Willamette, if only to stay in rhythm. The nicked-up Australian standout played 14 minutes and scored five points.

With five-star recruits come expectations—from one’s self. Goodluck Okonoboh, a 6-10 center rated No. 26 in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN, has decided to transfer from UNLV just six games into his sophomore season. Rather than morphing into a star as he hoped, Okonoboh has averaged just 15 minutes per game after starting last season as a true freshman. The Rebels face No. 15 Oregon tonight in the MGM Grand Showcase in Las Vegas. The Ducks are 5-0 eight days ahead of their trip to Taco Bell Arena to face Boise State.

Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell was denied a school-record 180th career victory last night when the Broncos were taken down 57-52 by Washington State. The opposing coach had plenty of BSU victories of her own once upon a time. WSU, of course, was led by former Boise State coach June Daugherty, who guided the Broncos from 1989-96. She’s been back to Taco Bell Arena before with both Washington and Wazzu—this was her first time since seven years ago with the Cougars. Her husband Mike is still her top assistant, and former Bronco men’s coach Rod Jensen is also on her staff. Daugherty will be remembered locally for her relentless promotion of her program. The peak was early in 1994 when “Dollar Night” drew over 11,000 fans to what was then the BSU Pavilion for a game against Montana.

The Idaho Stampede topped Oklahoma City 91-89 last night, earning their second straight victory over the Blue. OKC is now 0-8, the only winless team in the D-League, while the Stampede improve to 3-7. A year ago right now the Stamps were 3-3 after a home loss to Reno. That would start a losing streak that would reach 13 games—they lost 25 of the next 26. So this could be seen as a key point of the season. The Stamps play at Rio Grande Valley Sunday afternoon. Inquiring minds are wondering where Jack Cooley is. The rebounding machine wasn’t listed in the box score last night for the second straight game.

The Idaho Steelheads need something good to happen at home, but they’ve run into the wrong goalie at the wrong time as their three-game series against Florida continues tonight in CenturyLink Arena. The Everblades’ Daniel Altshuller was just named ECHL Goaltender of the Month after going 5-0 in November with three shutouts and an 0.80 goals-against average. Altshuller held the Steelheads to one goal on 33 shots in Florida’s 4-1 win Wednesday night. With Colton Beck in the AHL right now, the Steelies’ leading scorer is currently Rob Linsmayer. The 25-year-old forward has 19 points (five goals and 14 assists).

This Day In Sports…December 4, 2010, five years ago today:

Boise State plays its final conference game in the WAC, routing Utah State, 50-14. The win came on Senior Day at Bronco Stadium, as 18 seniors—including record-setting wide receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young—wrapped up their Boise State careers. Senior linebacker Derrell Acrey started the onslaught on the game’s first play, returning an interception 31 yards for a touchdown. The Broncos ended their 10-year WAC era with eight championships, a 75-5 record in conference games, and a perfect 40-0 mark on the blue turf.

(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.)