November night games, as we all know, can be tricky at Albertsons Stadium. It’s going to be really interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up Saturday for Boise State Senior Night against New Mexico. There’s been a big push for attendance since Jeramiah Dickey took over as Broncos athletic director, and it has born fruit. Boise State has averaged 35,909 fans per game this season. Granted, they’re counting “tickets distributed” this year instead of turnstiles. But the truth isn’t far off from that. It looked like it was going to be sparse for Wyoming last week—then late in the first quarter, when everyone finally came in, the stands looked good. The crowd was announced at 35,454 (it was probably closer to 33,000), but it’s all good. There’s one game to go now in what has been a solid season at the gates. Just bundle up and go.
NOT ENOUGH ROOM AT THE INN
The Senior Night list this week is larger than any I can remember, as Boise State will honor 24 players before the game. A combination of transfers and super-senior status is the reason. Here’s the deal: a whopping 16 of them could use “super senior” years next season due to COVID. But it’s not entirely up to them. The Broncos were allowed 92 scholarships this season as opposed to the normal 85 to accommodate players who wanted to use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA. Next year it reverts to 85, and Boise State has to make sure it saves room for the 2022 recruiting class. Right now that stands at, coincidentally, 16 players, and will grow between now and early signing day. Coach Andy Avalos is going to have some difficult conversations ahead the next six weeks.
NFL AUDITIONS FOR SHAKIR AND KANIHO
Boise State’s Khalil Shakir is headed for the Senior Bowl, providing a big boost to his NFL Draft status. The invitation was announced Thursday. Shakir will be the 14th Bronco in history to go to the Senior Bowl—and the first since Cedrick Wilson in 2018. Kekaula Kaniho has an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. While it doesn’t have the prestige of the Senior Bowl, the Collegiate Bowl will still attract nearly 200 scouts and front office staff from all 32 NFL teams. I’ve chronicled Shakir’s numbers. Kaniho? He has 209 career tackles, six interceptions, 30 pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, two defensive touchdowns and two special teams TDs.
TONIGHT’S MOUNTAIN WEST TEASERS
The Mountain West week begins tonight with two games of interest. Air Force plays at Nevada, and it’s a key one for the Wolf Pack’s credibility after being taken out of the West Division race. And San Diego State warms up for its Black Friday tilt against Boise State with a trip to Allegiant Stadium to face UNLV. It’s interesting that the College Football Playoff committee has placed SDSU considerably higher that voters in the AP and Coaches Polls. The Aztecs are No. 23 in both of the major polls, and they’re No. 19 in the CFP rankings. Why is that? The committee must really value San Diego State’s two victories over Arizona and Utah. On Saturday, Boise State could really use a Wyoming upset of Utah State in Logan. It’s unlikely, although the Aggies are favored by only 5½ points.
A sidebar of major proportions has emerged ahead of Saturday’s Battle of the Domes, the season finale between Idaho and Idaho State in Holt Arena. Idaho coach Paul Petrino and his staff will not return for the 2022 season. One report says “Idaho boosters have raised funds with the intention of buying out the remainder of Petrino’s contract.” Whatever the case, Petrino is 33-66 in his nine seasons with the Vandals, including a 14-25 mark since the program returned to the FCS and the Big Sky in 2018. His only winning season came in 2016, when Idaho defeated Colorado State 61-50 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. “Our goals are lofty, and our expectations are high, but we know the Vandal family expects nothing less than championship-caliber football in the Kibbie Dome,” said Idaho athletic director Terry Gawlik.
CLOSER, BUT NO CIGAR
The Boise State men hung with a top 25 team for a long time Thursday in the opening game of the Charleston Classic. Just not long enough. The shooting faucet turned off down the stretch, and No. 22 St. Bonaventure pulled away for a 67-61 victory. The Broncos had a two-point lead with 5:40 left in the game but went 1-for-9 the rest of the way. Boise State had started the game 1-for-9, too, falling behind by 12 points until rallying to take the lead at halftime. The net effect: the Broncos shot 33 percent from the field for the game. Three-point shooting was much improved, though, as Boise State hit 35 percent from deep. Most of that was due to Emmanuel Akot, who went 6-for-9 from beyond the arc and scored a career-high 24 points. The Broncos now face Temple on the consolation side this morning.
The Idaho men had shown some positive signs in their first two games, but they went off the rails Thursday night against Washington State in ICCU Arena. The Cougars ran roughshod over the Vandals 109-61, shooting 61 percent to UI’s 31 percent. The Boise State women, 1-1 after their win over Oregon Tech, have a tough road test at BYU Saturday. The Broncos-Cougars game in Provo last year was scrapped due to COVID. Boise State men’s cross country standouts Dario De Caro, Ahmed Ibrahim and Logan Rees run in the NCAA Championships Saturday in Tallahassee, FL. And the College of Idaho men’s and women’s cross country teams compete at the NAIA Championships today in Vancouver, WA.
POWER PLAYS & BIRDIES
On the local pro scene, the Idaho Steelheads play two more against the Adirondack Thunder tonight and Saturday in ICCU Arena. With another power play goal in Wednesday night’s 3-2 win, the Steelheads now have 11 for the season, second-most in the ECHL. The Steelies have been on the power play 49 times overall, also second in the league. And Troy Merritt started solidly at the RSM Classic in Sea Island, GA, shooting a six-under 66 in the first round Thursday. The former Boise State star birdied six of his first nine holes—he’s tied for 21st.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by ZAMZOWS…Nobody Knows Like Zamzows!
November 19, 2011, 10 years ago today: Two milestones for Boise State as the Broncos win their first-ever meeting with San Diego State, 52-35, in Qualcomm Stadium. Senior quarterback Kellen Moore tied Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell for second place on college football’s career touchdown pass list at 134 by tossing for four scores against the Aztecs. And senior wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker caught three TD passes to give him 14 for the season, tying the school record set by Austin Pettis two seasons earlier. Moore and Shoemaker hit the respective marks on the same play, a 24-yard touchdown hookup with 47 seconds left in the second quarter that gave the Broncos a 42-14 halftime lead.
(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.)