Do you think Boise State plays better on the road than at home? The Broncos’ three biggest blowouts of the year have been away from Boise: at Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico and Hawaii. The largest margin of victory in Albertsons Stadium has been 14 points two weeks ago over San Jose State. Boise State is 0-8 against the spread in its last eight home games. Now UNLV comes in as a 28½-point underdog. The Las Vegas Review-Journal points out: “This week last year, New Mexico, a 30-point underdog, stunned Boise State in a 31-24 upset win on the Broncos’ signature blue turf. On the same day—Nov. 14, 2015—Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.” Can you tell point spreads bug me?
Anyone bemoaning (or relieved) that UNLV star wide receiver Devonte Boyd was lost for the season against Wyoming should realize that it wasn’t going to be Boyd that gave the Rebels their best shot at upsetting Boise State tonight. It’s that running game—the one that produced 401 yards against the Cowboys, including 157 from quarterback Kurt Palenech, who earned weekly national honors from the Manning Award and Davey O’Brien Award. Wideout’s going to be a weird spot for UNLV, which has lost four guys who started at one time or another this season. Dalton Sneed, who was starting at QB a month ago, has volunteered to play receiver. Already starting is Jericho Flowers, who was a third-string cornerback a month ago.
UNLV hasn’t beaten Boise State in 40 years, since one-time Bronco coach Tony Knap had departed to take the Rebels’ reins in 1976. Of course, the teams went 34 years without playing before becoming Mountain West foes in 2011. What we know about tonight’s game is that Boise State will get UNLV’s best shot. It’s a familiar refrain for college football’s winningest program this century. The Rebels are the ones who defeated the only team to beat Boise State this year, Wyoming. If the Broncos are going to get the best UNLV has to give, it’s time for them to give someone their own best shot—especially with this group of seniors leaving.
Boise State and Wyoming. Broncos and Cowboys. That’s what the Mountain Division of the Mountain West is all about right now, right? Well, did you know that New Mexico captures the division crown if it wins out and Boise State loses one of its final two games? Wyoming has to win to stay in tomorrow and will have to contain San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey to do it. Pumphrey is just 346 yards away from becoming the leading rusher in college football history, with four games to play. Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne currently holds the record with 6,397 yards from 1996-99. Pumphrey, now No. 2 on ESPN.com’s Heisman Trophy watch list, went over the 6,000-yard mark last Saturday at Nevada and now stands at 6,051.
New Mexico has to get past Colorado State tomorrow night to remain in the race, and the Lobos will be bucking emotion in Fort Collins. This will be the final football game in the 48-year-old history of Hughes Stadium. CSU has been playing in the 32,500-seat facility located miles west of its campus since 1968. Next year the Rams will be moving into their new $220 million, 41,000-seat on-campus stadium. Colorado State is 5-5 and needs this one to become bowl-eligible—the Rams finish on the road next week at San Diego State (for Pumphrey’s Senior Night).
Youth is part of the equation this season for Boise State men’s basketball. Everyone knows that going in, and coach Leon Rice noted the “deer in the headlights” syndrome after the Broncos lost 60-47 last night at College of Charleston to open the Gildan Charleston Classic. They shot just 35 percent from the field and 19 percent from three-point range. Boise State will sooner or later be depending on scoring punch from James Reid and Justinian Jessup and got zero points from both as the duo combined to go 0-for-9 from the field.
Reid is not young, but he’s new to the Boise State program. Jessup is a sharpshooter, but he’s, well, young. Chandler Hutchison is the old wise one now, and he posted another double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds to become the first Bronco with consecutive 20/10 games since Tanoka Beard in 1993.. The Broncos now face an SEC team on a neutral court this evening as they take on Mississippi State, who lost 86-61 to Central Florida in the first round.
This Gildan Charleston Classic is a good tournament. Now Boise State has announced it’s heading for another one next year in November, the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The event will take place at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan. The Broncos will be joined there by Florida State, Iowa State, South Carolina, Illinois State, Tulsa, UTEP and Western Michigan. Elsewhere in college hoops, College of Idaho plays its home opener tonight, hosting Colorado Christian as part of the 30th annual Taco Bell Shoot-Out. That game will be preceded by NNU versus Portland Bible. The Boise State women play at Seattle University Sunday afternoon.
The Idaho Steelheads have been riding the power play wave as they wrap up their series at Norfolk this weekend. The Steelheads lead the ECHL in the power play, converting 26.3 percent of their chances on the man-advantage. And Steelies rookie Will Merchant in tops in the league in power play goals at five after scoring twice in Wednesday night’s 6-4 win over the Admirals. Idaho has won three straight.
A year after earning National League Rookie of the Year honors, Kris Bryant has become the second former Boise Hawk ever to be named Most Valuable Player. Bryant captured the NL award yesterday after leading the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series championship since 1908. He hit .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs in just his second year in the majors and was stellar in the field. Bryant also led the league in runs scored with 121. Former Hawk Josh Donaldson was the American League MVP last year.
Other campus things: Boise State tries to clinch its first-ever berth in the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament when it takes on Wyoming tomorrow in Laramie. The Broncos are coming off an epic five-set win over Colorado State Wednesday night. It’s a big day tomorrow for the Boise State men’s cross country team—and Bronco women’s star Brenna Peloquin—as the NCAA Championships unfold in Terre Haute, IN. The men, the Mountain West champions, were seventh last week at NCAA Regionals. Peloquin was third individually among the women. And for the ninth straight year, the College of Idaho men and women are in the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, set for tomorrow in Elsah, Mo. Both teams are in the Top 10 in the NAIA.
This Day In Sports…November 18, 2000:
In the final regular season game ever in Big West football, Boise State trounces Idaho, 66-24. The Broncos rolled up a 42-10 halftime lead on four of Bart Hendricks’ five touchdown passes on the day. Hendricks wrapped up his regular season career with his first 400-yard game, as Boise State won the last Big West football title. The victory capped a 10-game conference winning streak during which BSU averaged 50 points a game.
(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.)