The Beavers still wield Pac-12 talent

What a starkly different team Oregon State was last year from the one that worked over Boise State in the 2013 Hawaii Bowl. In Aloha Stadium, the Beavers used the 38-23 bowl win over the Broncos to salvage a winning season. There would be no such laurels for the Beavs the past two years. They did go 5-7 in Mike Riley’s final season, but then they endured last year’s 2-10 campaign, their first under former Utah State coach Gary Andersen. One thing for certain, though, OSU has a Power 5 roster. Boise State will see it in guys like wide receiver Victor Bolden, who peeled off a 92-yard touchdown run on a fly sweep and added a 48-yard circus catch in the Beavers’ 37-7 victory over Idaho State last Saturday.

In 2014, when Sean Mannion was still Oregon State’s quarterback, Bolden caught 72 passes for 798 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore. But in the Beavers’ quarterback-challenged 2015 season, Bolden had just 46 receptions for 461 yards. At Pac-12 Media Days this summer, Andersen liked Bolden’s chances this season with Darrel Garretson at QB. “I believe he will be a difference maker in this league,” said Andersen. “He holds himself at a high regard of being a tremendous player within our league, and hopefully elite within the country. If we can get him the ball the right way, he should do some fantastic things.” Bolden, incidentally, didn’t have a reception against Boise State as a freshman in the 2013 Hawaii Bowl, but he have one rushing attempt for nine yards. He also returned three kickoff for 75 yards.

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien has been boning up for Oregon State after what he would view as a sub-par performance in the win over Washington State. It was in the turnover department—the Broncos cannot thrive when they toss three interceptions. “He’s very self-competitive,” said coach Bryan Harsin of Rypien. “We won the game, but there’s a standard these guys like to play to.” Rypien also completed just 54 percent of his throws against the Cougars. But Harsin reminds everyone that Rypien’s learning curve is different than his predecessors. “He’s still a (true sophomore),” Harsin said. “He didn’t have a redshirt year.” All of the other Bronco starters this century did, including Kellen Moore, Jared Zabransky and Ryan Dinwiddie.

Boise State has only four players from the state of Oregon on the roster despite being less than 60 miles from its border, senior Sam McCaskill and true freshmen John Bates, Jordan Happle and Kayode Rufai. McCaskill, the Broncos’ captain and standout defensive end, was jostling between Boise State and Oregon State offers at the height of recruiting season five years ago. He opted for the Broncos upon his official visit to Boise. Bates, a redshirting tight end, had committed to OSU before flipping to Boise State in January. There’s one Idahoan on the Oregon State roster, Luke Leonnig, who was all-state as a defensive lineman at Eagle High last year and is now an inside linebacker for the Beavers.

Idaho State feels a little better about its effort at Oregon State, compared to the disappointment of the 56-7 blowout at Colorado. ISU coach Mike Kramer is just glad his team can move forward now. “It’s great to be done with the Pac-12,” Kramer said in the Idaho State Journal. “The day that spring ball got over with on the 25th of April, I’ve been thinking about these two events every day, every night, all night long. They’re grotesque. I don’t care if we make a billion dollars or a million dollars. It’s grotesque.” The Bengals have a logical chance of getting back to .500 in Game 4 on Saturday—they host Sacramento State in a Holt Arena homecoming tilt to open Big Sky play. The Hornets are 0-3.

Four weeks from tonight is when BYU visits the blue turf. And as I’ve said all along, I think that—for whatever reason—Eagle’s Tanner Mangum will start at quarterback for the Cougars against Boise State. BYU is 1-2 this season and has scored 18, 19 and 14 points. The offense has sputtered, and new coach Kalani Sitake says “time is running out” to fix it. Taysom Hill has always had the “it” factor, but the former Highland High star doesn’t seem the same this year. In the 17-14 home loss to UCLA last Saturday, he was just 26-of-48 for 250 yards, with one interception and one touchdown. And he was sacked four times and rushed for minus-seven yards, the first time he’s rushed for negative yardage in his career. BYU faces West Virginia Saturday at FedExField in Landover, MD.

Things get serious now for Chris Petersen and Washington. After three yawners in Husky Stadium, UW has to open Pac-12 play on the road at Arizona. The ninth-ranked Huskies will be in an interesting chess match against the Wildcats. It’s Marcel Yates, the former Boise State defensive coordinator who now holds the same post at UA, versus Coach Pete, one of his mentors. Yates will have to neutralize Washington quarterback Jake Browning and wide receiver John Ross. The Arizona defense has been generally good. There were some hiccups early against Grambling, and some late points yielded against Hawaii last week when the game was out of hand. The Wildcats’ problem has been the health, or lack thereof, of quarterback Anu Solomon.

What’s the mark of a maturing football program? A maturing defense. It’s evident three games into the season that College of Idaho has it. The Coyotes allowed 428 yards in their 20-7 win at Eastern Oregon, but it’s all about the scoreboard. The Yotes are giving up just 15 points per game after yielding 29 last year and 42 in their return-to-action year in 2014. Defensive yardage numbers have gone from 492 to 415 to 365. They’ve held opponents to 50 percent efficiency in the red zone and just 2-of-8 on fourth-down conversions. And C of I has played three good teams, two of them ranked in the NAIA and the other from the NCAA Division III level. Rocky Mountain College visits Simplot Stadium on Saturday.

After a well-run stop at the Albertsons Boise Open last week, the Tour Finals move into their third leg today at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course, considered one of the most challenging on the Tour. Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge is No. 42 in winnings during the Finals with $8,033. He needs something really good to happen in the next two weeks to retain his PGA Tour card, like about $27,000 worth of good.

Josh Osich has not been the worst offender, but the Bishop Kelly grad is part of the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen. Isn’t that enough? Osich was on the disabled list when the Giants’ freefall was catching fire in late July and August, but he has struggled along with his teammates. Osich was inserted during the fourth inning last night while the Dodgers were on their way to a 9-3 rout of the Giants. He bounced his first pitch to the plate and gave up a leadoff single to Cory Seager. But Osich retired the next three batters. After a 2.20 ERA in 35 appearances as a rookie, the 28-year-old leftie has posted a 4.46 ERA this season over 57 games.

This Day In Sports…September 22, 1969:

San Francisco’s Willie Mays becomes only the second player in major league history—behind Babe Ruth—to hit 600 career home runs. Oddly enough, Mays came up as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning at San Diego, and as he so often did, came through in the clutch with a two-run homer that broke a 2-2 tie. The Giants would beat the Padres, who were in their inaugural season, 4-2.

(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.)