Role players roll, then Hutch goes clutch

Calling Marcus Dickinson and Alex Hobbs role players does the Boise State sophomores a disservice, because we’re talkin’ big roles this season. But when starters Chandler Hutchinson and Lexus Williams had to sit early last night with two fouls apiece, Dickinson and Hobbs did their thing and were keys to a 93-71 win over Colorado State in the Mountain West opener. The duo sliced and diced and three-pointed their way to 16 points apiece. For Dickinson, it was a career-high, as the Broncos’ depth proved its mettle again. Hutchison had eight points at halftime—and nothing more until 8½ minutes remained in the game. Then the senior star went off for 16 points over the next seven minutes and finished off the Rams while finishing with 24.

Guess who was slapped with a technical foul last night. It was not broody, black-clad Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy. No, it was Boise State’s Leon Rice, who was T’d up after protesting a foul called on Chris Sengfelder in the second half with just over six minutes left. The rare T on Rice was booed lustily by the disbelieving crowd of 7,538 in Taco Bell Arena. The Rams made the two free throws that came with the foul, plus both technical freebies to pull within 10 points at 77-67. As if the Broncos weren’t already focused, they lasered in from there and peeled off a 16-2 run to end any drama. Boise State had it going, shooting 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range for the game.

There was an upset out of the gate last night in the first round of Mountain West play, as Wyoming stunned San Diego State 82-69 in Laramie six days after the Aztecs’ upset of Gonzaga. The Aztecs allowed 82 points? Yes, the Cowboys’ Hayden Dalton torched them with an amazing 36 points and 15 rebounds. Elsewhere, Nevada cruised past Fresno State on the road 80-65 in the conference’s feature matchup. UNLV had the first Wednesday bye—the rejuvenated Runnin’ Rebels await Boise State Saturday night in Thomas & Mack Center.

All four of today’s bowl games relate to Boise State in roundabout ways. The Alamo Bowl between TCU and Stanford gives us a “where are they now?” angle. Mat Boesen, who was dismissed from the Bronco squad two days before the 2014 Fiesta Bowl for off-field problems, has emerged as a force for the Horned Frogs the past two years after one season at Long Beach City College. Boesen had three sacks in eight games as a Boise State redshirt freshman—he had a TCU school-record 5.5 sacks in one game on Senior Day versus Baylor a month ago. Boesen leads the Frogs with 11.5 sacks on the season. The Cardinal will try to neutralize Boesen with a healthy dose of Bryce Love.

If there’s one game Boise State would like to have back this season, it’s the 47-44 triple-overtime loss at Washington State in Week 2. That’s when the Broncos frittered away a 31-10 fourth-quarter lead in Pullman after stifling Wazzu star quarterback Luke Falk. Tonight, Falk plays one last game as a Cougar in the Holiday Bowl against Michigan State in a top 20 matchup. Falk, the Pac-12’s career passing leader, has thrown for 3,593 yards with 30 touchdowns against 13 interceptions this year. Those numbers are fairly pedestrian for a team that slings it as much as WSU does. Falk is not being mentioned in the same draft conversation as Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield. This is an important stage for the Logan, UT, product (who has a mystery cast on his left hand).

Whatever happened to Virginia? After the Cavaliers improved to 3-1 with their 42-23 pounding of Boise State in September, they won again over Duke and North Carolina. But UVa went 1-5 down the stretch to finish the regular season 6-6. Still, former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall has the Cavs in the postseason for the first time in six years as they face Navy today in the Military Bowl. Quarterback Kurt Benkert was lights-out on the blue turf. For the season, he threw for 3,062 yards and 25 touchdowns against eight interceptions, but his pass efficiency was a middling 128.1. This is a big deal for Benkert and his fellow Virginia seniors, coming as it is so close to home. Thing is, it is home for the Midshipmen. The game will be played in Annapolis on Navy’s home field.

The Camping World Bowl in Orlando is relevant to Boise State’s immediate future. On September 15 next year, the Broncos travel to Oklahoma State for the first leg of a long-anticipated home-and-home series, and you can get a preview of the Cowboys when they play Virginia Tech today. And how about this angle? OSU assistant Kasey Dunn is the 2017 FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year after leading a crew that featured two 1,000-yard receivers and four 500-yard receivers.

Dunn was a three-time Division I-AA All-America wideout at Idaho from 1987-91 and still holds Vandal career records with 268 catches and 3,847 receiving yards. He’s in his seventh season on Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State staff. Previous coaching stops include Southern Miss, the Seattle Seahawks, Baylor, Arizona, TCU, Washington State, New Mexico, Idaho and San Diego. Dunn played in the CFL for the B.C. Lions in 1992 and the Edmonton Eskimos in 1993 after wrapping up his Vandal career.

It’s not going to have a lot of zeroes behind it, but it’s another real NFL paycheck for Jonathan Moxey. The Arizona Cardinals have signed the former Boise State cornerback to their practice squad just in time for Week 17. Moxey went undrafted last spring and spent training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was on the Bucs’ practice squad the first two weeks of the season before being released. Moxey recorded 134 tackles, three interceptions and 31 pass breakups in 52 career games with the Broncos.

This Day In Sports…December 28, 2012, five years ago today:

More than 36 years after his first game as head coach at Nevada, Chris Ault steps down from his Wolf Pack post for the final time. Ault was an offensive innovator and in 2005 invented the now-popular “Pistol” offense. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Ault went 233-109-1 in 28 seasons with the Pack and won or shared 10 conference championships. He was Boise State’s arch-nemesis for three decades but was just 8-17 all-time against the Broncos, including only two wins in Boise. But Ault’s overtime win against the Broncos in Reno in 2010 was one of the most painful in Boise State history.

(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.)