Bowl trickle-down possibilities, or not

The Mountain West will likely vacate its spot in the Las Vegas Bowl this year to BYU. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a media conference call yesterday that the league will likely vacate its spot in the Las Vegas Bowl this year, allowing BYU to play in the December 19 game. That’s where the Cougars want to go in exercising their option to play in either the Las Vegas or Hawaii Bowl this season. And hey—the Vegas Bowl could guarantee a sellout by making Utah its Pac-12 representative, couldn’t it? Thompson also acknowledges that the Big 12 will probably be able to fill its Cactus Bowl berth after all now that a process has been developed to accommodate 5-7 teams in bowl games, thus shutting out the Mountain West there.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Poinsettia Bowl, which has the next choice out of the Mountain West, would tweak its wish list, which currently has Boise State at the top. The Broncos could still end up in San Diego on December 23 regardless, with a matchup against a good MAC team like Toledo. That’s the best they can hope for with the November they’ve had. I’m just wondering how the conference will now give San Diego State and Air Force their just rewards for making the Mountain West championship game this Saturday.

With Boise State football hitting the pause button this week, it’s a good time to check out the record book watch. Thomas Sperbeck, who has 82 catches for a school-record 1,334 yards and eight touchdowns, is six catches away from Matt Miller’s Bronco standard of 88 receptions in 2013. Sperbeck doesn’t have the benefit of the Mountain West championship game to help him get there. Then again, neither did Miller two years ago. Miller had a big finish in the Hawaii Bowl against Oregon State, making 11 catches for 206 yards and an 85-yard TD.

Jeremy McNichols, currently the national leader in touchdowns and points, will be hard-pressed to stay there. McNichols, with 23 touchdowns overall, is one ahead of Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. Like McNichols, Dixon also has just one game remaining. But Henry, the Crimson Tide’s Heisman Trophy candidate, could have as many as three—the SEC championship game, the College Football Playoff semifinals, and the national championship game. McNichols posted his seventh straight 100-yard game at San Jose State, tying the Mountain West mark held by San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey and extending his Mountain West record of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown to 11.

Kicker Tyler Rausa is knocking on the door of a couple records, but he took the long way in getting there last Friday. Rausa missed his first extra point (and followed with a kickoff that went out of bounds). The rest of the day went better, as Rausa connected on field goals of 25 and 31 yards and hit his four remaining extra points. He’s now scored 120 points this season, two short of the Mountain West kickers’ record set by Utah’s Louie Sakoda in 2008. Boise State’s record is 141 by Tyler Jones in 2004, the year the Borah High grad led the nation in scoring overall. Rausa’s field goal total is 23, one behind Jones’ Bronco mark, also set in 2004. He’s tied for second in the nation with, among others, Idaho’s Austin Rehkow.

Darian Thompson already has his record, the Mountain West mark for career interceptions with 19. Thompson’s invitation to the Senior Bowl next month is a lifetime achievement award for one of Boise State’s best-ever safeties and its top NFL prospect. The Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist has also recorded 240 tackles and 14 tackles-for-loss during his career. He sat out the last two games with a concussion but traveled with the Broncos to San Jose and served his usual role as a co-captain. Thompson was missed again, though, as the Spartans nicked Boise State with 336 passing yards.

With Tony Romo now out for good this season in Dallas, the Kellen Moore question is abuzz again. The former Boise State great is poised to be back on the Cowboys roster as the backup to Matt Cassel. None other than David Helman of DallasCowboys.com is wondering aloud why Moore and Cassel aren’t on more equal footing. Helman asked during the Cowboys’ seven-game losing streak, quarterbacked by Cassel and Brandon Weeden, why the team couldn’t give Moore a chance. And he is again. “The Cowboys have a young quarterback with an unknown potential. (Offensive coordinator Scott) Linehan likes him enough to keep him nearby–at two different stops, no less,” writes Helman. “I take it as a pretty big vote of confidence when the guy calling the offense feels that strongly.” Helman adds, however, that he doesn’t expect it to happen.

The Miami Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor yesterday, and Jay Ajayi’s numbers in Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the New York Jets are probably a clue. The former Boise State star was the Dolphins’ leading rusher in the game—with six yards. On three carries. Miami’s pass-to-run ratio was a stunning 58-9. Ajayi was a factor in the overused Dolphins air attack, making four catches for 52 yards. The Dolphins have lost four of their past five games, averaging just 15.6 points during that stretch with Lazor calling the plays. They’ll presumably clear out the rest of their coaching staff when the season ends.

Projections in Anthony Drmic’s pursuit of Tanoka Beard’s Boise State basketball career scoring record are based on his playing 32 or so games this season. But Drmic is still not 100 percent as he slowly heals from last January’s surgery on his left ankle. So what seemed like a layup could be touch-and-go, depending on what kind of workload Drmic can absorb. He was 1-for-12 from the field in Sunday’s 68-59 loss to Arizona but made all six of his free throw attempts for eight points. That gave him 1,620 career points and moved him into the top 10 all-time in the Mountain West. He needs 224 points to reach Beard’s record, and the Broncos have at least 25 games left this season. That’s just under nine points per game—if Drmic plays them all, beginning with tomorrow night’s home game against Willamette.

Other hoops notes: College of Idaho’s Joey Nebeker has collected another Cascade Conference Player of the Week award after averaging 26 points and two rebounds in the Coyotes’ two games last week. The Yotes open conference play at home tonight against Eastern Oregon. And the Idaho Stampede are back on the road tonight against the Oklahoma City Blue. The Stampede, with a 1-7 record, have a chance to pull themselves up off the mat, as the Blue are worse at 0-5. The Utah Jazz have assigned center Tibor Pleiss to the Stampede and expect him to be in uniform tonight. The 7-3 German has seen action in four games for the Jazz this fall—he played in Spain last season.

Idaho Steelheads coach Neil Graham is looking for answers, and he hopes he’s found a couple in forwards Kyle Jean and Jake Fallon. Jean has played 19 games this season with Asploven HC in Sweden’s Allsvenskan league. He has appeared in 74 ECHL games and 126 AHL games in his career. Fallon played the past three seasons at the University of Vermont. Both players should be available tomorrow night when the Steelheads return home to host the Florida Everblades.

This Day In Sports…December 1, 2011:

Boise State introduces Mark Coyle as its new athletic director, replacing longtime AD Gene Bleymaier, who was fired in August of that year after almost 30 years at the helm. With BSU’s plans for a massive expansion of Bronco Stadium already drawn up, Coyle came in with the expressed goals of ramping up the Broncos’ fundraising effort—and keeping coach Chris Petersen in place. He did keep Pete, for two years anyway. Coyle had spent the previous 6½ years as deputy director of athletics at the University of Kentucky. He’d be at Boise State for 3½ years before departing for Syracuse.

(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.)