Are we to believe this point spread?

One thing’s for sure: New Mexico’s upset of Utah State last week got Boise State’s attention. One thing’s for sure: New Mexico’s upset of Utah State last week got Boise State’s attention. There should be a lot of focus in Albertsons Stadium Saturday night. But a 30-point spread in favor of the Broncos? This reminds me of the Wyoming game three weeks ago, when Boise State was a 34½-point favorite and won by 20. Now, here come the Lobos, within one victory of being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007. Their five wins also are the most for a New Mexico team since that year, when the Lobos went 9-4 and beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. You can say, “Hey, they were lucky to beat USU with a couple big plays and a makeable Aggie field goal that sailed wide right.” But were the Lobos lucky to do what they did to the Broncos last year?

It was November 8 in Albuquerque, and Boise State was coming off a bye week it used to theoretically prepare for New Mexico’s triple-option—just like this year, for cryin’ out loud. And what did the Broncos get? A gashing of their defense to the tune of 505 rushing yards, the most ever allowed by Boise State. UNM ran for 417 yards in the first half alone and had 42 points at the break. Jhurell Pressley ran 75 yards for a touchdown (he’s back this year), Teriyon Gipson blasted 49 yards for a TD (he’s back this year), and Ridge Jones had a 75-yard scoring dash on his only carry of the game and added a 100-yard kickoff return (he’s back this year but isn’t playing that much). The 627 yards of total offense by the Lobos were the fifth-most ever given up by the Broncos.

With those mind-numbing stats, you’d think the game would live in infamy as one of Boise State’s worst-ever losses. But the Broncos were able to answer with 658 yards of their own, and they scored the final 22 points of the game to win the donnybrook 60-49. Grant Hedrick threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 131 more and another score. His 498 yards of total offense that night ranks No. 4 on the Boise State all-time list. The Broncos can survive in a track meet if they need to (although New Mexico’s vastly-improved defense would indicate a different kind of game is in store).

Here’s the evidence of New Mexico’s defensive strides. Utah State had topped 50 points in three of its previous four games—including the win over you-know-who—before hitting the wall on a blustery day at University Stadiumn last week. The Lobos held the Aggies to just 294 yards, and 78 on the ground. USU was 4-of-15 on third downs and 0-of-2 on fourth downs. That’s what has New Mexico thinking bowl game.

Was Boise State’s utilization of its tight ends at UNLV a situational thing or a trend? I know a lot of fans are voting for “trend.” The Broncos spread six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown among four tight ends in the 55-27 win over the Rebels. If the New Mexico defense is as stout against the run as it was versus Utah State last week, the tight ends could be integral again in moving the chains. “Love the tight ends—that’s a position we use, something we believe in,” said coach Bryan Harsin Monday. “When you have great tight ends, those guys stand out, and I think that’s what we have here.”

Appalachian State, once a legendary FCS team, is now a growing FBS program as it ventures into the Kibbie Dome for the first time to face Idaho on Saturday. The Mountaineers were the first team to capture three straight FCS championships when they did it from 2005-07 (a record since eclipsed by North Dakota State). But, of course, Appalachian State is best known for one of the biggest upsets in college football history, the 34-32 triumph over No. 5 Michigan in the Big House. It was the first time an FCS school had ever beaten a ranked FBS team. App State is in its fourth season of FBS football and its second year as a full-time member of the Sun Belt. At 7-2, the Mountaineers are gearing up for their first bowl game since their small college days in the 1950’s.

It might be discouraging to local fans that no NFL team claimed Kellen Moore off waivers yesterday—not even the Indianapolis Colts, who are quarterback-challenged with Andrew Luck on the shelf for about a month. But at least Dallas still wants Moore. After releasing him Tuesday, the Cowboys have re-signed him to their practice squad according to a report by ESPN’s Todd Archer. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan welcomes him back.

If you live by the three, you can die by the three. Boise State was just 7-for-29 from beyond the arc in the exhibition against Northwest University last Friday. It may be an aberration for this team, but it happens. James Webb III was 3-of-6 on treys and Nick Duncan was 2-of-3, but their teammates were clangin’ them. Coach Leon Rice points to different surroundings as one factor—the Broncos had practiced only once in Taco Bell Arena leading up to the game. To that point, the atmosphere will be very different tomorrow in Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, where Montana is awaiting on Opening Night. One of the positive indicators in the exhibition win was 22 assists on 29 made baskets by the Broncos. Boise State needs to have the rest of its game in tune when the threes aren’t falling.

The first day of the fall signing period turned two Boise State verbal commits into Bronco basketball signees. Alex Hobbs of LaPorte, TX, and Justinian Jessup of Longmont, CO, turned in their letters of intent yesterday. Hobbs, a 6-4 guard, averaged 27.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a junior, leading La Porte to a state playoff appearance. He’s a fourth-year varsity starter. Jessup was named the 2014-15 Colorado 4A Player of the Year after leading Longmont to the state championship game. He averaged 17 points and 4.5 rebounds last season. Prep Hoops Colorado rates Jessup as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Colorado.

On the pro front, the Idaho Stampede roster is down to the 12-man D-League limit after the release of former Wichita State guard Nick Wiggins and former South Alabama forward Mychal Ammons. The squad still includes some more familiar names, like J.J. O’Brien out of San Diego State, Brandon Fields from Nevada and Ed Singler out of Oregon State. Opening Night is tomorrow at Rio Grande Valley. And the Idaho Steelheads begin their Far, Far Away road trip (“Shrek” reference) tonight with a game against the Orlando Solar Bears. This could be another high-scoring affair, as Orlando is second in the ECHL with 3.88 goals per game.

Tyler Aldridge is off to a decent start in his first PGA Tour season since 2009. The Nampa golfer has made the cut in all three tournaments he’s entered this fall and finished 12th last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Aldridge has won $119,568 and is 66th in the FedEx Cup standings. He tees off this morning in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. High today 83, low tonight 71.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by GREENWOOD’S SKI HAUS…plenty of reasons to shop locally!

November 12, 1969: Minnesota’s Harmon Killebrew, the proud product of Payette, is named the American League’s MVP after a season that saw him lead the AL with 49 home runs and 140 runs batted in. Killebrew led the Twins to the American League West title in the first year of divisional play in major league baseball. He would play six more seasons, ending up with 573 home runs and a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

(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.)

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