Last February former San Diego State star Donnel Pumphrey tweeted, “I’m p*ssed that Boise State is on the schedule when I’m no longer playing. & no McNichols for them, that’s a dub for us. He’s their team.” Someone forgot to tell Alexander Mattison, who ran with the determination of Jeremy McNichols and the power of Jay Ajayi in the Broncos’ win over the Aztecs last Saturday. If I told you before the game that Mattison would have more than twice as many yards as San Diego State stalwart Rashaad Penny, well, I know what you would have said. Mattison is a completely different guy than he was a month ago, going off for a second straight career-high with 128 yards against the Aztecs.
Mattison’s season in review: a decent start against Troy, although more than half of his 82 yards rushing came on one touchdown run. Washington State kept him pretty much in check, and then came the 21 yards combined versus New Mexico and Virginia—just 1.6 yards per carry. As the coaching staff started to lean toward Robert Mahone, Mattison basically said “enough is enough” before the coaches could, and has responded with gutty, physical performances the past two weeks. In September it didn’t look like he was seeing the field that well. Now Mattison’s finding the holes without hesitation. Think about this: if he averages 100 yard a game the rest of the season (including a bowl game), Boise State will have its nation’s-best ninth straight 1,100-yard rusher after all.
Just seven weeks ago, Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was headed into the season opener at Iowa with the weight of the world on his shoulders. A number of draftniks had predicted that Allen would go first overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, and scouts flocked to Iowa City to watch him. Allen proceeded to throw for only 174 yards with two interceptions in a 24-3 loss to the Hawkeyes. He’s still recovering. Now, halfway through the season, Allen is completing less than 58 percent of his throws and is averaging just 181 passing yards per game. He has seven touchdown passes and four interceptions with a pass efficiency rating of only 122, 79th in the country. Allen’s looking for a breakout game—kind of like the one he had last October in Laramie when he threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the upset of Boise State.
Allen is coming off a step-in-the-right-direction game in last week’s 28-23 win at Utah State, completing a season-best 69.2 percent of his passes. But more importantly, Allen engineered drives that got Wyoming into the end zone. He showed his physical side by running the ball 16 times and scoring the Cowboys’ first touchdown with a second effort on a fourth-and-goal quarterback sneak. The Pokes still like Allen’s running ability, occasionally using him on the read-option. But if he has an NFL future, it’s on the merit of his big arm, and he delivered at USU with a game-winning 14-yard TD pass to C.J. Johnson.
Idaho isn’t much more of an underdog at Missouri Saturday than it was last week at home to Appalachian State. The current spread is 15 points. Who knows what might happen in SEC country? The Tigers are in their second season since the retirement of the program’s winningest coach, Gary Pinkel, due to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mizou is 1-5 under coach Barry Odom after absorbing a 53-28 beatdown last week at the hands of Georgia. Odom is hoping for a fresh start against the Vandals. The St. Louis Dispatch reports that during a meeting Sunday, “Odom set ablaze remnants of the team’s first six games, which one witness described as scouting reports, game plans, references to criticism on social media, plus a list of the officials who botched the ending of Mizzou’s game at Kentucky a week earlier.”
Can College of Idaho take last week’s offensive show on the road Saturday? The one that exploded for 59 points and 636 yards on Montana Western? The Coyotes’ game at Southern Oregon will be a good barometer of how far they have come since first facing the Raiders on September 9 at Simplot Stadium. That day the Yotes logged 413 yards of total offense in a 41-25 loss. It was Southern Oregon’s offense that was the issue, with quarterback Tanner Trosin throwing for 366 yards and four touchdowns.
Going into the Dallas Cowboys’ bye week, former Boise State star DeMarcus Lawrence continued to lead the NFL in sacks with 8.5. He dropped Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers once a week ago Sunday in the Cowboys’ 35-31 loss to the Packers. What’s really eye-opening is that the resultant losses cover 90 yards—more than 10 yards per sack. A tweet from Pro Football Focus noted that “no edge defender has been more productive on a per snap basis so far this year than Lawrence.” PFF has a “pass rushing productivity rating,” and the highest one in the NFL belonged to Lawrence at 20.2, ahead of the Detroit Lions’ Anthony Zettel at 19.3. The Cowboys are back at it this Sunday at San Francisco.
Boise State is serious about Christian Sengfelder. So much so that coach Leon Rice has the graduate transfer in tow along with star senior Chandler Hutchison today at the Mountain West Men’s Basketball Media Summit in Las Vegas. The expectation is that the 6-9 forward from Levekusen, Germany, will step right into the lineup as a Nick Duncan-type after starting all 93 games of his career at Fordham. As for Hutchison, who returns for his final year after exploring the NBA last spring, he’s projected to be the No. 17 scorer in the country this season according to SI.com’s metrics.
Two games into the season, the Idaho Steelheads certainly have some balance. Idaho’s seven goals in a split with the Norfolk Admirals last weekend were scored by seven different players. Now, do the Steelies have their old penalty-killing mojo? Idaho was second in the ECHL each of the last two seasons on the penalty-kill—last season’s success rate was just under 86 percent. The Steelheads allowed two goals on eight Norfolk power plays on opening weekend. They’ll try to improve on that tonight when the Utah Grizzlies visit CenturyLink Arena.
This Day In Sports…October 18, 2002, 15 years ago today:
One of the most electric nights in Bronco Stadium history, as a then-record crowd of 30,924 and a national audience on ESPN watch Boise State dismantle Fresno State, 67-21. The Broncos started B.J. Rhode, and the senior quarterback staked them to a 13-0 lead. But then in the second quarter, Ryan Dinwiddie returned from a broken ankle suffered just six weeks earlier and torched the Bulldogs with a record 19-of-22 performance, covering 406 yards and five touchdowns.
(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.)