Nothing like nostalgia around here

As soon as I saw the Boise State-Marshall series, my mind zipped right back to 1994. But, of course. As soon as I saw the announcement about the Boise State-Marshall home-and-home series in 2019 and 2020, my mind zipped right back to 1994. But, of course. The Broncos and Thundering Herd played a thriller on the blue turf in the semifinals of the Division I-AA Playoffs that year. Boise State rallied to win, 28-24, and advanced to the national championship game the following week—on Marshall’s home field. You don’t think that was a bitter pill? If it was any consolation for the Herd, Youngstown State dominated the Broncos in the final, 28-14. Leading up to the Marshall game, BSU coach Pokey Allen and I did the TV commercial with Pokey promising to ride a horse down Broadway if 20,000 fans came out that snowy week. They did, and he did.

Nostalgia aside, the big picture is this would be a great Group of Five matchup now, and hopefully it will be in four years. Marshall was college football’s winningest program of the 1990’s, and Boise State holds that distinction in the new century. The Thundering Herd moved to Division I-A in 1997, one year after the Broncos, but got to the Top 25 first. The Herd finished No. 10 in both polls in 1999 with a 13-0 record. Marshall, while taking shots for a 2014 schedule that didn’t include a Power Five opponent, was the top-ranked Group of Five team last season—until the Broncos overtook them at the end and went to the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State’s previously-scheduled home-and-home series with Cincinnati will now be played in 2024 and 2025.

I’m not sure if voting has ended at Yahoo Sports for college football’s “best catch of Week 8,” but Boise State’s Thomas Sperbeck is going to win regardless. Sperbeck’s stunning one-handed sideline reception against Wyoming has 84 percent of the vote against four other candidates. The junior’s amazing grab will advance to an end-of-the-year vote where the best catch of the season will be determined. It doesn’t surprise Sperbeck’s teammates and coaches. “We see it all the time in practice,” said center Marcus Henry. “Thomas makes crazy one-handed catches. It’s cool.” Ditto for coach Bryan Harsin. “I don’t know—I don’t really see the answer to it,” said Harsin. “He just has unbelievable determination. In his mind, ‘I can make this play.’ He practices that way.”

UNLV quarterback Blake Decker will return to the lineup Saturday afternoon against Boise State, giving the Rebels hope for a rebound. They’re 2-5, but they’re not giving up on bowl eligibility. Decker missed UNLV’s narrow losses to San Jose State and Fresno State due to a dislocated shoulder. “It was hard; it was really hard,” the fiery senior said in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s tough to be on the sideline in any situation, but I’m proud of my guys for the way they played, and I’m excited to get back in action with them.” Decker has played five games this season, completing 54 percent of his throws for 625 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He led the Rebels to their 23-17 conquest of rival Nevada in the Fremont Cannon game at Mackay Stadium in his last outing.

These are strange times for Chris Petersen. The former Boise State coach is under .500 for the first time in his coaching career after Washington’s 31-17 loss at Stanford Saturday night. The Huskies had been depending on the growth of quarterback Jake Browning, and he had been coming along slowly but surely, even with UW last in the Pac-12 in total offense. Browning, the true freshman, made his first career start on the blue turf September 4. But he was out with a shoulder injury against the Cardinal, and one-time Boise State commit K.J. Carta-Samuels was forced to fill in. Carta-Samuels was just 9-of-21 for 118 yards as Washington managed just 231 yards of total offense. The Huskies, now 3-4, host Arizona Saturday night.

Do you think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wish they had picked up the fifth-year option on Doug Martin’s contract? They declined to in May, and the former Boise State star can become an unrestricted free agent next year. He’s going to be wanted. Martin has risen to No. 2 on the NFL’s rushing list with 541 yards after going for 136 yards on just 19 carries in Sunday’s loss to Washington. He’s just 80 yards short of NFL leader Devonta Freeman of Atlanta (Martin has had a bye week; Freeman hasn’t). According to Buccaneers.com, Pro Football Focus, a website dedicated to providing high-level statistics and analysis on all 32 NFL teams, has Martin rated as the NFL’s second-best running back with a grade of +12.1. Pittsburgh’s LeVeon Bell is the top back with a rating of +13.4, while Freeman is third with a +8.7 rating.

There’s another guy named Doug Martin who’s not faring quite as well right now. This Doug Martin is head coach at New Mexico State, which is winless in seven games this season and will carry a 17-game losing streak into Saturday’s home game against Idaho. And you thought the Vandals had it bad. The Aggies were clobbered by Troy 52-7 last Saturday in Las Cruces, one week after Idaho beat the Trojans 16-13 on the road. Nonetheless, NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia is standing behind Martin as his head coach. The Vandals picked up their only win of the 2014 season with a 29-17 victory over New Mexico State in the Kibbie Dome.

It’s the second go-round for the College of Idaho and Montana Western Saturday, this time at Simplot Stadium. The Bulldogs won the first contest in Dillon in September, 24-20, as they rallied in the final two minutes after the Coyotes had taken a 20-17 lead. The Yotes are diversifying at quarterback. With J.J. Hyde out for the season, A.J. Martin is getting his chance behind starter Teejay Gordon. Martin, the redshirt freshman from Idaho Falls, was 2-of-3 for 30 yards in the second half of the loss at Southern Oregon last Saturday, with both completions going for touchdowns. Martin also ran the ball 15 times for 65 yards.

Former Boise State and Idaho Stampede star Coby Karl has hung up his sneakers in favor of dress shoes at the age of 32. Karl now starts his coaching career, as he’s been hired as an assistant coach by the Westchester Knicks of the D-League. Karl, the son of Sacramento Kings coach George Karl, appeared in 122 D-League games in his career and played parts of two NBA seasons with the Lakers, Cavaliers and Warriors. He is one of two players in league history to see action in both the D-League and NBA on the same day. Karl is Boise State’s career leader in three-pointers with 266 from 2003-07, a mark likely to be eclipsed this season by Anthony Drmic. Also, the D-League officially announced its 20th team yesterday. The Charlotte Hornets will place a team in Greensboro, NC, next season.

Tricia Bader Binford, one of the all-time greats in Boise State women’s basketball, is going into her 11th season as head coach at Montana State, and she has landed herself one special assistant. NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, whose daughter, Lindsay, is a senior guard for the Bobcats, has joined Binford’s MSU staff. “Coach Binford called and took a flier asking if I’d be interested,” the Utah Jazz legend said in a news release. “I’m excited about the prospect of working with the kids.” Binford was the 1996 Idaho NCAA Woman of the Year as a senior at Boise State and was inducted in the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

This Day In Sports…October 28, 1967:

The WAC’s wild reputation was created on days like this—UTEP quarterback Brooks Dawson sets an NCAA record for the most consecutive passes completed for a touchdown after he threw six straight against New Mexico. Dawson threw touchdowns on his first six passes that day, leading the Miners over the Lobos 75-12 in Albuquerque.
Courtesy of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

(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.