Turning the tables on a turning point

The New Year’s Six isn’t very much in the conversation right now at Boise State. It was two weeks ago. And it was two years ago, when the Broncos were undefeated and headed to Wyoming. That’s where Wyoming and Josh Allen shocked undefeated 13th-ranked Boise State 30-28 in Laramie, sending the 2016 season down a different path. It was a fork in the road that some would argue—Broncos among them—the team never recovered from. Sure, it was a 10-win season, but it sure didn’t feel like one when it ended with ugly back-to-back losses to Air Force and to Baylor in the Cactus Bowl. This Saturday’s game at Wyoming has that undercurrent.

Brett Rypien really shined at Oklahoma State in a very difficult situation with his 380 yards and three touchdowns. The only thing he didn’t do well against OSU was hold onto the ball under duress. Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re watching from the couch. But Rypien fumbled three times in Stillwater, losing one at the end when the issue was decided. Which brings us to Rypien’s fumble in Laramie in 2016. The one with 1:25 left in the game that bounced out of the back of the end zone, resulting in the safety representing the winning points for Wyo. Almost every part of Rypien’s game during his senior year has been solid—he and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa are the only two quarterbacks in the country with at least 10 TD passes and no interceptions. Ryp’s determined to prevent any echoes at Wyoming.

The bye week didn’t affect Boise State much in the rankings, despite all of this week’s shuffling. The Broncos dropped one spot in the Coaches Poll to No. 25 and remain second in line to get back into the AP Poll in the “others receiving votes” department. The polls always have their curiosities. The Broncos now have 14 more points in the AP Poll than Oklahoma State, who was stunned at home Saturday by Texas Tech (the Cowboys are still No. 21 on the Coaches list). Another curiosity: BYU jumped five spots to No. 20 in AP after a 30-3 win over…FCS McNeese State. And you know what? The Cougars aren’t even ranked in the Coaches Poll. Tough to figure things out in September.

The Mountain West went 1-2 against other Group of 5 conferences Saturday. And the one win wasn’t easy. It took overtime for San Diego State to fend off Eastern Michigan 23-20 at home. Running back Juwan Washington exited the game with an injury for the second straight week for the injury-plagued Aztecs. In another matchup versus the MAC, Nevada fell at Toledo 63-44 despite racking up 582 yards of total offense. And UNLV fell at the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State 28-20. The worst loss of the season in the Mountain West came courtesy of Colorado State, who fell 35-19 at home to FCS Illinois State. In the only conference game of the week, Jordan Love threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns to lead Utah State past Air Force 42-32.

It was a shoot-yourself-in-the-foot kind of day for Idaho, as the Vandals fell 44-21 at UC Davis in their first Big Sky game in 23 years. Idaho committed two turnovers. That would have been survivable had both not come inside the Aggies’ five-yard line. On the Vandals’ first drive of the second half, Mason Petrino threw a goal-line interception. Their first possession of the fourth quarter saw David Ungerer fumble at the UCD two-yard line as fought to get into the end zone. Then there was a special teams implosion, as the Aggies blocked an Idaho punt at the goal line and recovered it for a TD. The possible 21-point swing on those three plays casts a different light on the 23-point defeat. As it is, Dan Hawkins is 6-0 against the Vandals.

What does College of Idaho have to do to get a victory? The Coyotes were leading Rocky Mountain College 41-28 midway though the fourth quarter when the Battlin’ Bears scored on a 46-yard touchdown catch by former Emmett High standout Lucas Overton on a third-and-11. Then Rocky executed an onside pooch kick, recovered, and scored the go-ahead touchdown two plays later. Final: Rocky Mountain 42, C of I 41,and the Yotes fall to 0-5. The loss wasted a great day by College of Idaho quarterback Darius-James Peterson, who became the first Coyote in history to combine for six touchdowns in a game. Peterson amassed 413 yards of total offense.

Two of Bronco Nation’s favorite sons came through in the NFL yesterday, albeit one of them in a loss. Leighton Vander Esch, with a busload of fans out of Riggins rooting him on, led Dallas with 11 tackles in a frustrating 24-13 loss to Seattle at CenturyLink Field. Nine of Vander Esch’s stops were solo, and one was for loss. DeMarcus Lawrence shared a sack and had three quarterback hits for Dallas. And in Houston, Donte Deayon helped the New York Giants to their first win of the season, 27-22 over the Texans. Deayon made four tackles and registered his first NFL fumble recovery.

Raimee Sherle broke a Boise State women’s soccer record with an exclamation point yesterday. Sherle accounted for all the Broncos’ scoring in a 3-0 victory at UNLV, recording the fastest hat trick in school history—three goals in 3:11. That feat gave her the Boise State record for career goals with 37, just four short of the Mountain West mark. And Sherle is only a junior. She also broke Bronco career records with her eighth multi-goal game and fourth hat trick.

Paul J. Schneider announced Friday morning that he’s hanging up the mic December 14 after 51 years at KBOI. Talk about the end of an era. Paul J. was already doing sports on KBOI-TV when I moved to Boise in high school. Then in my formative years on the radio at KFXD, I remember some late-night requests from Schneider and the late Jim Poore (a cut from “Spirit in the Dark” by Aretha Franklin, if I recall). I remember his first Bronco football broadcast—at Idaho in 1973. One of the greatest comings-of-age in my life was doing games with Paul J. on KBOI in 1985-86. Oh, the stories. I will forever be grateful for those years and for his friendship.

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September 24, 2011: Tony Knap, Boise State’s first coach as a four-year school, passes away at the age of 96. Knap took the reins of Bronco football 50 years ago when the legendary Lyle Smith moved to the athletic director’s chair. Knap guided Boise State into the Big Sky in 1970 and earned the Broncos’ first three Big Sky championships and first three 10-win seasons. He compiled a record of 71-19-1 in eight seasons before moving on to UNLV in 1976. Knap built the Bronco fan base as we know it today, entertaining it with an innovative pass-first offense that was way ahead of its time. Knap’s signature win was the 42-14 victory over Idaho in the first Bronco-Vandal game in 1971.

(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.)