The Chuckie Keeton comparisons begin

The timing is perfect for Utah State quarterback Jordan Love to be named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, on two counts. One is the momentum it gives Love going into Saturday night’s home game against the Mountain West’s second-leading defense, Boise State. And it gives said defense some new fire for the crucial conference matchup in Logan after its successful experience against sure-to-be future NFL quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming. Love got his first college start Saturday at UNLV, replacing senior Kent Myers. Love threw for 316 yards and two long touchdowns in the 52-28 victory. He had split snaps with Myers the previous week during the Aggies’ 28-23 loss to Wyoming. Has USU moved on? Myers played only one possession at UNLV.

Love became the first Aggies QB to top 200 yards passing in his first start since Chuckie Keeton in 2011. Here’s a key difference: Love is 6-3, 215 pounds—and he appears to have a stronger arm to go with it, witness his TD throws of 70 and 75 yards at Sam Boyd Stadium. He added 42 yards rushing on eight carries against the Rebels. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin knows who Love is. “I remember him from recruiting,” said Harsin of the Bakersfield, CA, product at his Monday press conference. “He’s bigger, he’s faster.”

There’s been plenty of talk about Boise State’s lack of go-to choices at wide receiver beyond Cedrick Wilson—and not so much talk about the tight end spot. The pass-catching options beyond senior Jake Roh have been limited at a position that was seen before the season as one of the Broncos’ deepest. Roh has been back in the groove after an injury-plagued 2016, recording 25 receptions for 192 yards and four touchdowns (he has also scored two rushing TDs). The next most productive tight end has been Fruitland’s Alec Dhaenens with three catches for 65 yards, although two of them were big ones: a 44-yard reception on the opening TD drive at Washington State, and a 13-yard grab to convert a third down in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s Wyoming game.

Only one other tight end has a reception. Sophomore Chase Blakley had one catch against Troy—then suffered an ankle injury at Wazzu and has been out since. Harsin announced yesterday that the former Coeur d’Alene High standout has now had surgery and is out for the season. Blakley may get this year of eligibility back, as Harsin says he’s a candidate for a medical redshirt. Matt Pistone and John Bates have appeared sparingly for the Broncos. Former Rocky Mountain star Jake Knight retired from football in fall camp, and Nick Crabtree had already moved from tight end to the offensive line last spring.

There was shocking news out of the ESPN Networks and the Mountain West yesterday. Boise State’s Homecoming game against Nevada a week from this Saturday will kick off at 5 p.m., the earliest start time for a November game on the blue turf in five years. The catch is that the game is on ESPNU (BYU-Fresno State has been plugged into the higher-exposure late-night ESPN2 slot). At this point, who cares? The turnout for the Wyoming game, 35,565 minus the rain-spooked no-shows, was impressive, and it was loud. You’d think a 5 p.m. kickoff would boost tickets sales for the Wolf Pack, the Broncos’ longest-running current rival, dating back to 1971.

Considering the futility of Idaho State football this century, the Bengals’ 4-4 record right now—including a road upset of Nevada of the Mountain West—looks really good. It’s especially gratifying for a coach who wasn’t even hired until a week before spring football, when ISU and Mike Kramer parted ways. Now, Idaho state athletic director Jeff Tingey and coach Rob Phenicie have agreed to a three-year contract extension to be finalized at the end of the season. The Bengals have a key road tilt this Saturday at Montana State.

With Dallas comfortably routing San Francisco 40-10 with just over six minutes left in the game Sunday, the Cowboys gave quarterback Dak Prescott the rest of the day off and put in…Cooper Rush. Some are trying to paint that as the beginning of the end for Kellen Moore, as the former Boise State great was declared inactive for the game in Santa Clara in favor of Rush. But coach Jason Garrett insisted on his radio show yesterday that is not the case. It’s the first time Moore has been inactive this season, allowing Rush to make his NFL debut Sunday—he was 1-for-2 for two yards in mopup time. There’s speculation that Kellen’s roster spot will be used for a new kicker to replace Dan Bailey, who’s going to be out several weeks with a groin injury.

There has never been a native Boisean who has played in a World Series, and that won’t change this year. Boise High grad James Hoyt, the 31-year-old reliever, was left off Houston’s postseason roster despite spending most of the season on the Astros’ 25-man squad. Hoyt was 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA in middle relief. There is a former Boise Hawk who’ll be in uniform for the Astros tonight as Game 1 unfolds in toasty Dodger Stadium. The versatile Marwin Gonzalez, listed as a leftfielder but capable of playing just about anywhere, is coming off a career year—a .303 average with 23 home runs and 90 RBIs. Gonzalez batted .279 in 65 games with the Hawks in 2008. Ex-Hawk Rich Hill is slated to start Game 2 for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

A couple other Boise State notes: the Broncos’ charity exhibition game against Portland State tomorrow night in Taco Bell Arena has been cancelled. The NCAA had approved a waiver for the game with the condition that players would not miss class, and a date and time in which that worked for both schools could not be found. And former Rocky Mountain star Raimee Sherle produced one of the best two-game runs in Boise State women’s soccer history over the weekend, and she is the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week. Sherle scored five goals with an assist in Bronco wins over Nevada and UNLV, including a hat trick Sunday against the Rebels.

This Day In Sports…October 24, 2012, five years ago today:

San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval becomes only the fourth player in major league history to hit three home runs in a World Series game, leading the Giants past Detroit 8-3 in Game 1. The first two came off American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, and the third was given up by former Boise Hawk Al Alburquerque. Sandoval joined Babe Ruth (who did it twice), Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols on the elite list. The “Panda,” despite his considerable girth, had hit only 12 homers during the regular season.

(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.)