Preseason magazine progress report

One by one, they appear. I talked a few weeks ago about the Street & Smith’s college football preview. Athlon and Lindy’s are on newsstands now, too. And if you’re in the “ye of little faith” crowd regarding Boise State, the magazines don’t share your feelings. Like Street & Smith’s, both Athlon and Lindy’s pick the Broncos to win the Mountain Division of the Mountain West. All the publications seem to put a lot of stock in Boise State featuring a two-time first-team All-Mountain West quarterback in Brett Rypien. Writes Athlon: “If Rypien can take a step forward and the offense can turn yards into points, Boise State should be in position to reclaim its spot as the premier program in the league.”

Lindy’s must have great confidence in Boise State, especially when you read the magazine’s “Potential Problems” capsule for the team: “Proven depth at running back and wide receiver is almost non-existent, while the Broncos’ maligned special teams could rely on a kicker/punter who has never played. The Broncos have numbers at plenty of positions, but not much experience. Last season, the team wore down late in games, resulting in close losses and some wins when starters had to stay in way too long.” All basically true. Boise State has to demonstrate that those are not Top 25 deal-breakers. Otherwise, the Broncos’ chief challengers could walk through the door. Lindy’s has Wyoming as No. 2 in the division—Athlon says Colorado State.

The top of the West Division of the Mountain West is a given. Both Athlon and Lindy’s see San Diego State as the winner (as does Street & Smith’s). The Aztecs, of course, are two-time defending conference champions. The only constants in all three publications are Boise State first and Utah State last in the Mountain—and SDSU first and Hawaii second in the West. Yes, the consensus is the Rainbow Warriors are finally back. Athlon predicts things down to a school’s record. It has the Broncos 10-3. Athlon projects Utah State as the only Mountain Division team with a sub-.500 record. On the other hand, it shows the Aztecs and Hawaii as the only West Division teams with winning records.

There are bowl projections in two of the publications. Street & Smith’s puts Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon State (hmmm…a rematch of the weird 2013 Hawaii Bowl). The magazine has San Diego State facing Miami (Ohio) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Athlon also predicts the Broncos to be in the Mountain West’s top bowl in Las Vegas, meeting Colorado. And Athlon has the Aztecs in Boise as well, taking on Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Meanwhile, the publications not only project Idaho as a bowl team again, they give the Vandals a new postseason experience. Street & Smith’s places Idaho in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, AL, against Toledo, and Athlon sees the Vandals mixing it up with Wyoming in the Arizona Bowl.

Boise State has a quarterback in its 2018 recruiting class. Zach Wilson, a 6-3, 180-pounder from Draper, UT, attended the Broncos’ Elite Camp over the weekend and tweeted last night that he has given his verbal. Wilson completed 66 percent of his throws last season for 2,751 yards and 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He also rushed for 374 yards. There are now two linebackers on Boise State’s commitment list. Brandon Hawkins, a 6-3, 210-pounder from Georgetown, TX, gave his verbal after attending the camp on the blue turf. Ten days ago, Hawkins appeared to be leaning toward Indiana, one of 18 schools that says offered him scholarships. He joins linebacker Phillip Mills of Menifee, CA, who committed last month.

One linebacker who’s not around anymore provides an interesting twist for the Boise Hawks’ home opener next Tuesday night. Former Bronco Joey Martarano, the Fruitland High grad who left at the beginning of spring football to pursue his pro baseball career, will begin the season in the Northwest League with Eugene. The Emeralds happen to be the Hawks’ opponent in that first home game. Martarano played four games for the Ems in the summer of 2015 before reporting to Boise State fall camp, going 2-for-15 (he didn’t play baseball last year). The Hawks, by the way, begin their season Thursday night in Spokane.

With all the concern about February and March weather once Boise State reinstates its baseball program, here’s an idea from BYU. The Cougars are removing the natural turf they’ve played baseball on for 50 years in Provo and replacing it with an artificial surface. And it’ll be heated. A former BYU player, Dave Decker, donated $1 million for the heating system that will be installed beneath the field. Coach Mike Littlewood trumpets the ability to practice outside more in January and move start of the home schedule up to late February. What a concept. And it snows more along the Wasatch Front than it does in Boise. That would benefit USL soccer, too, wouldn’t it Jeff Eiseman?

What’s next for Boise State’s Allie Ostrander after her national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase? Indications are that she will pass on the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships later this month to take some time off—and then gear up her preparations for the Broncos’ cross country season. That’s where she first made her mark as a true freshman phenom, finishing second at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Ostrander’s teammate, Sadi Henderson, is seeking a spot in the USA Championships. After an eighth-place finish in the 800-meters at the NCAA meet Saturday in Eugene, Henderson ran a career-best 2:02.33 Sunday night at the Portland Track Festival. That time should be enough to get her into the USA meet June 22-25 in Sacramento.

This Day In Sports…June 13, 2012, five years ago today:

Matt Cain throws the first perfect game in the Giants 130-year franchise history—New York or San Francisco—in a 10-0 blanking of the Houston Astros. Cain’s 125 pitches were the most ever thrown in a perfect game. But he struck out a career-high 14 batters, tying Sandy Koufax for the highest strikeout total in a perfect game, in a dominant performance before a frenzied sellout crowd at AT&T Park.

(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.)