Boise State football: It has become an easy pick

By the time you read this, you’ll probably know how the Mountain West Preseason Media Poll reads. Since this was written before that time, I’ll try to predict the outcome. In the Mountain Division, depth rules, and that should carry Boise State to the favorite’s role. It’s easy to pick Utah State second, but the Aggies lost so much off last year’s team—and they’ve certainly had more coaching upheaval than the Broncos. Some are touting Air Force as a dark horse. The Falcons were 5-7 last season, but you can never keep ‘em down for long.

In the West Division, both Fresno State and San Diego State have had a lot of players move on. But the Bulldogs have enough of the “it” factor right now to be divisional favorites. I’ll go Aztecs second and Hawaii third. Could it be Boise State and Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game for the third consecutive year? With expectations that have become almost automatic, it’s up to the Broncos to do their part.

A GOOD TIME FOR HOME FIELD?

Boise State might be glad Hawaii is playing on the blue turf this season, because the Rainbow Warriors have a chance to really turn the corner. Nick Rolovich got them to 8-6 last year (their first winning season in eight years), and—unlike Utah State—UH’s returning starter at quarterback has a lot of familiar around him. Cole McDonald, the QB who was top 10 in the country in six different passing categories last year, has four of his five offensive line starters returning, along with two first-teamers at wide receiver. We’ll know a lot more by mid-September, as Hawaii has to survive home games against Arizona and Oregon State and a road game at Washington in consecutive games to begin the season.

WINN TRIES TO WIN A SPOT

Naturally, we’re tracking Brett Rypien as he tries to make the Denver Broncos. But we’re also keeping an eye out for Billy Winn news. The former Boise State star still has some shelf life, as he was re-signed by Denver in the offseason despite being absent from NFL rosters last year. Winn was with the Broncos in 2017, but he missed that season after undergoing knee surgery in training camp. The fact that Denver still wants Winn is saying something for a guy who is now 30 years old and hasn’t played in an NFL game in almost three years. His career stats must mean something: 111 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and five fumble recoveries.

FANGIO ON RYPIEN: ‘I THINK, MAYBE…’

And here’s a Rypien update after Day 4 of camp on Sunday. According to Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com, coach Vince Fangio plugged Rypien into the No. 2 offense against the first-team defense for one period late in practice. “A lot of teams only have three quarterbacks in camp—we have four,” Fangio said. “Some days he’s going to get more (reps) than others. That’s just the way it goes, but I like Brett.” Mason said that after taking a sack when Von Miller and Bradley Chubb exploded off the edges, Rypien settled in, hitting Brendan Langley and Kelvin McKnight. “The pass to McKnight saw Rypien stand in the pocket and deliver the ball despite pressure from DeShawn Williams, who closed on him as he prepared to throw,” wrote Mason. “Brett, I think, maybe, he’s got a future,” Fangio said.

MINNESOTA’S RB ROOM DOWN BY ONE

It was cause-and-effect Monday for Minnesota running back Roc Thomas, and it affects Alexander Mattison. Less than a week after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Thomas was waived by the Vikings. That removes one piece of competition for Mattison, who began training camp with Minnesota on Monday. Thomas was convicted of felony marijuana possession in May and was sentenced to three years probation. But Mattison still has to contend with Dalvin Cook, who led the Vikes last season with 615 yards on the ground.

EVEN HEAT CAN’T HELP THE HAWKS

What organization in the city would have been happiest had we not hit 100 degrees this summer for the first time in 37 years? The Boise Hawks, no doubt. But alas, Monday was our first triple-digit day of the year—on July 22, abnormally late. The Hawks are adversely affected by the heat in the stands, of course, but it’s been generally comfortable at Memorial Stadium this summer. Would the 102 degrees on Monday heat up the struggling Hawks on the field? Well, no. Salem-Keizer put up a five-spot in the seventh inning and went on to a 6-5 victory, handing Boise its seventh loss in a row. The Hawks collected 10 hits, but they were all singles. Adam Schunk knocked in three of the Hawks’ five runs.

MORE HARDWARE FOR ALLIE O

Allie Ostrander’s going to need a new trophy case. On Monday, the now-former Boise State great was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Women’s Outdoor Track Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Ostrander received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in May with a 4.00 cumulative grade-point average. The three-time NCAA 3,00-meter steeplechase champion is gearing up for the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships later this week in Des Moines, IA.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by POOL DOCTOR & SPA…so many ways to soak and save!

July 23, 2012: The NCAA levels a shocking series of sanctions on Penn State for its coverup role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The Nittany Lions had to forfeit $60 million, give up 10 scholarships per season over a four-year period beginning in 2014, endure a four-season bowl and Big Ten championship ban, and vacate all victories from 1998-2011. The latter penalty removed the late Joe Paterno from his pinnacle as the winningest coach in NCAA history. The postseason ban was rescinded and the scholarships were restored in 2014, and Paterno’s victories were reinstated in 2015.

(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.)

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