The formerly regular rivals

What’s the Scott Slant without some history from the Boise State-Idaho State series? What’s the Scott Slant without some history from the Boise State-Idaho State series? ISU was the first NCAA school to agree to play at Boise State when the latter became a four-year program in 1968. The Broncos won that first game 27-20 in the old wooden Bronco Stadium. BSU leads the series 24-6, with the Bengals’ last win over the Broncos coming during Pokey Allen’s magical season in 1994, a 32-31 decision in Holt Arena that spoiled what would have been an undefeated regular season. Idaho State is 0-22 versus FBS opponents over the last 15 years. Included are two defeats at Albertsons Stadium, 62-0 in 2003 (kicking off Jared Allen’s final season as a Bengal) and 49-7 in 2008 (Kellen Moore’s first game as a Bronco).

Each of Idaho State’s six victories in the series comes with a sidebar. Here’s one from 1987. The Bengals had recorded a 35-32 victory at Bronco Stadium that year on a 97-yard kickoff return, and at the Boise State team banquet after the season, the Broncos were treated to ISU’s Frank Selto romping to paydirt on the highlight video produced by KTVB. BSU’s outside linebackers coach at the time was current Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, and he was none too happy about that play being included in the video. Pagano made his feelings known to, uh, a couple guys who were there representing the station. (The following season, after Boise State won 31-10 in Pocatello, Pagano was introduced to Tina Heffner on one of those big concrete ramps in Holt Arena. Chuck and Tina Pagano have now been married 26 years).

Boise State gets to face two Mangums in seven days. At the beginning of the season we thought one Mangum would play a much bigger role than the other against the Broncos. That would be Madison Mangum, Idaho State’s All-Big Sky wide receiver. But it’s hard to imagine him having a larger impact than his brother Tanner. Madison is coming off a banner season that produced 83 catches for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns as the Bengals went 8-4 and just missed the FCS Playoffs. And against Sacramento State last season, he did his best Tanner impression by throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass. Madison redshirted at BYU in 2009 before going on his LDS mission. Madison played his high school ball at Timberline back when Boise city high schools still played on the blue turf.

Turnovers have been the recurring theme this week for Boise State. When a quarterback tosses three interceptions, a team’s chances of winning are severely compromised. Ryan Finley’s three picks at BYU last Saturday were all ugly ones (keeping in mind that if a certain Hail Mary was batted down with 45 seconds left, the third one would have never happened). Consider the last three losses suffered by the Broncos—to Ole Miss and Air Force last year and to BYU this season. The Broncos’ starting QBs have combined for two touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Finley has made some bad decisions over his first two games, but futility in the Bronco running game and spotty offensive line play have put a lot on his shoulders. Since racking up 152 rushing yards in the first half against Washington two weeks ago, Boise State has rushed for just 95 yards and has averaged less than 1.9 yards per carry. Would Jay Ajayi be finding more room to roam had he stayed for his senior year? Discuss.

Turnovers have been a theme on defense, too, at least for seniors Donte Deayon and Darian Thompson. Deayon caught up to Thompson in career interceptions last Saturday with his two picks at BYU. Each guy now has 15 career interceptions, tied for fourth on Boise State’s career list and tied for second on the Mountain West’s all-time list. If one (or both) can snag three more in the next 10-plus games, they’ll reach the Mountain West record of 18 held by former Utah great Eric Weddle. By themselves, Deayon and Thompson have more combined career interceptions (30) than any other starting secondary in college football.

Antoine Turner’s name is no longer on the Boise State depth chart. Here’s hoping that’s not a permanent development (he’s still on the roster). Turner, the senior defensive tackle who fled New Orleans after the chaos of Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago and was homeless in Fullerton, CA, as recently as a year and a half ago, is dealing with an academic issue and hasn’t played yet this season. It has to be painful for Turner, one of the most grateful individuals you’ll ever meet. Talk about putting a damper on a great story. Turner did not record a sack as a junior—and we were anxiously awaiting the first one this season. There was no doubt he was going to get it. If Turner never plays another down for the Broncos, you have to root for the guy to get his degree.

The College of Idaho returns home Saturday to face defending NAIA national champion Southern Oregon at Simplot Stadium. Attendance has not been a concern in Caldwell, where 5,289 showed up for the season opener against Eastern Oregon. That was the second-largest crowd not only since football returned to the C of I last season—the Yotes drew 5,356 against MSU-Northern last year—but in Simplot Stadium history. The previous attendance high in the facility was 4,500 for a game versus Idaho State in 1964. (When the Yotes played at Hayman Field on the C of I campus, the stadium held upwards of 6,500 fans and filled regularly during the 1940s and 1950s.)

Unfortunately, the Mountain West is poised for another pounding this weekend at the hands of Power 5 schools. The team with the best chance of stemming the tide is Colorado State, who takes on Colorado in Denver in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The question for the Rams: will the Mountain West’s top wide receiver play? Rashard Higgins sprained an ankle in CSU’s season-opening win over Savannah State—then he missed last week’s overtime loss to Minnesota. Yesterday, coach Mike Bobo predicted he will play. Higgins was a consensus All-American last year and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

All Troy Merritt had to do to ensure he’d advance in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs two weeks ago was make the cut, and he did at the Deutche Bank Championship. His FedExCup standing is No. 47 as the top 70 tee off today at BMW Championship outside Chicago. But now the former Boise State star has to be a cut above to make next week’s Tour Championship. Read that: top five, or even better. Merritt goes into this third leg of the PGA Tour’s playoff series smiling, though—he’s earned $2,074,931 this season.

Sad to see the Barber to Boise races go by the wayside. What would have been the 39th annual Barber to Boise next month has been cancelled due to a lack of entries. The 10K and 5K traced the Greenbelt from Barber Park into town at a glorious time of the year. The Boise YMCA ran the event through 2007—it has since been organized by Ryan Canning, who cites competition from not only other races but from all the things there are to do these days in the Treasure Valley. I wonder what percentage of Boise residents has run the Barber To Boise at least once.

This Day In Sports…September 17, 1955, 60 years ago today:

Hawaii shocks Nebraska 6-0 in Lincoln to avenge a 50-0 humiliation in Honolulu the prior season. The Rainbow Warriors’ 29-man team outgained the Cornhuskers’ offense, 318 yards to 219. With the game still scoreless and five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Hawaii halfback Bill Taylor ran 37 yards to the Nebraska 7-yard line. From there, fullback Hartwell Frietas powered into the end zone for the only score of the game. Now, if only UH could get a return game in Aloha Stadium after last Saturday’s wipeout at Ohio State…

(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.)