The most gratifying thing about the school-record 818 yards Boise State racked up while annihilating Connecticut 62-7 Saturday night was the balance it brought. The Broncos rushed for 400 yards and passed for 418 in smashing the mark they set at Colorado State in 2011 by a whopping 76 yards. There were four touchdowns on the ground and four through the air. Usually when there’s a tilt-the-scales offensive number like that, you have a 200-yard rusher or 200-yard receiver. Something freakzoid. But Alexander Mattison rushed for 115 yards, and eight other players shared the remaining 285 yards. John Hightower had 119 receiving yards and A.J. Richardson 100 and—speaking of balance—there were eight other guys sharing the load there as well.
The committee at wide receiver has certainly convened. We wondered aloud last week whether Boise State would divvy up the 100-yard games this season—one guy here, another guy there. Well, the Broncos have had three different players reach 100 yards in the first two weeks, with Hightower and Richardson joining Sean Modster, who hit the plateau in the opener at Troy. What happens once Octavius Evans returns? Hightower was balance personified against UConn. He added 55 yards rushing—on one carry. The touchdown run on the fly sweep was as electrifying as there has been on the blue turf in a long time, punctuated by Hightower’s speed. As far as his 67-yard touchdown catch is concerned, well, Brett Rypien did not underestimate his speed this time.
Maybe the AP voters looked at Boise State’s game against UConn as a measuring stick, too. The Broncos dominated the Huskies far more than UCF did in Week 1, and Boise State leapfrogged the Knights in the AP Poll yesterday while climbing to No. 17. UCF is No. 18. The teams are in the same spots in the new Coaches Poll, where the Broncos were already one notch ahead of the Knights for the top Group of 5 spot. Which brings us to No. 19 in the AP Poll. That would be Boise State’s next opponent, Oklahoma State, which leads the nation in total offense (the Cowboys are No. 24 on the coaches’ list). The scene could not be set any more perfectly for the game this Saturday afternoon on ESPN.
It’s interesting that some people have a problem with Boise State playing UConn. Sure, the Broncos outgained this team by 625 yards while reaching 60 points for the first time since 2014. But the series between the two schools was announced in March of 2013. The Huskies were coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons following their 2010 Fiesta Bowl campaign. This is not Incarnate Word or Stony Brook. There was no reason at that time to think that—as a member of the American Athletic Conference—UConn wouldn’t be a worthy peer opponent for the Broncos. The American is, after all, rated higher than the Mountain West. Hey, the AAC went 3-0 versus the Power 5 over the weekend. Hope everyone enjoys that win for what it is.
The Mountain West’s first win over a Power 5 team this season came from an unlikely source on Saturday. It wasn’t Fresno State, which squandered an opportunity at Minnesota and lost 21-14. The Gophers sealed it when they intercepted a Josh Hokit halfback pass from the six-yard line with just over a minute to play. No, it was Colorado State, the squad everybody had just about written off after two ugly losses to start the season. The Rams, hosting Arkansas, overcame an 18-point second-half deficit to stun the Razorbacks 34-27. A one-yard run by Izzy Matthews with eight seconds left won it. The MW had four other games versus the Power 5 Saturday, all losses by an average of just under 30 points.
Idaho got its dose of confidence Saturday, rebounding from a 66-point pounding at Fresno State to defeat Western New Mexico 56-10 in the Kibbie Dome home opener. The Mustangs led 10-7 early in the second quarter before UI peeled off 49 unanswered points. Now we’ll find out what it all means. The Vandals continued to alternate Mason Petrino and Colton Richardson at quarterback, and the duo combined for 246 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-25 passing. David Ungerer was Idaho’s star, though, logging his first 100-yard receiving day, including a touchdown, and scoring on a 65-yard punt return—Idaho’s first such runback TD in seven years. The 46-point margin of victory was Idaho’s largest since 2000.
It might not show against an FCS team (Portland State) this week, but there were good signs for College of Idaho Saturday. The Coyotes may be 0-3, but they went toe-to-toe on the road with one of the NAIA’s elite teams Saturday before falling 35-28 at Southern Oregon. The Yotes trailed the Raiders 27-14 when Darius-James Peterson ignited a rally, running for two touchdowns. A C of I onside kick failed with 1:14 left in the game, and SOU escaped. The Yotes running game, surprisingly stifled in the first two games, put up 192 yards against a solid Southern Oregon defense. Dominic Garzoli rushed for 109, including a 77-yard TD run in the first quarter.
Boise State notables from the NFL’s first Sunday slate: Leighton Vander Esch did indeed make his Dallas Cowboys debut, registering three tackles in a 16-8 loss to Carolina. It was DeMarcus Lawrence who did the most defensive damage, with seven tackles, a sack and three tackles-for-loss, and Tyrone Crawford added three stops. But the Cowboys offense was quagmired. We await reviews on Kellen Moore’s debut as quarterbacks coach. Also, Kamalei Correa got quality time in his official debut as a Tennessee Titan. Correa made three tackles and clocked a sack in a 27-20 loss at Miami. Because of two weather delays, it lasted seven hours and eight minutes—the longest game since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
It’s Albertsons Boise Open week. Here’s a refresher on why moving back to September and into the Web.com Tour Finals last year was such a big deal. Five years ago, the Web.com Tour became the primary vehicle to get to the PGA Tour. The top 25 money winners during the regular season are guaranteed spots on the big tour for the following season, which starts in October. But “The 25” will still have to play the Web.com Tour Finals, and—except for the No. 1 player—their priority ranking will be decided by results from this four-event series. There’ll be an additional 25 PGA Tour berths up for grabs based on winnings in the Web.com Tour Finals, which will include 150 players (the top 75 from the Web.com Tour and Nos. 126 through 200 on the PGA Tour money list). The stakes are high at Hillcrest Country Club.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.
September 10, 1997: The new Bank Of America Centre, now CenturyLink Arena, opens in downtown Boise with an Idaho Sneakers World Team Tennis match. The opening of the doors—and consequently the match—would be delayed about 45 minutes while final inspections were made. It was dusty and loud, with a giant fan making up for a lack of air conditioning. The Centre was in much better shape two weeks later for the first hockey game ever played there, an NHL exhibition game between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
(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.)