What will Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison do for an encore after the two sterling performances he delivered last weekend to lead the Broncos past Oregon and Portland? With the senior star back in a groove, Boise State’s collective fingers are crossed for a 9-1 start in men’s hoops this season as the Broncos host Sacramento State tomorrow in Taco Bell Arena. Hutchison will be missing a little mojo-type support that he may have had in the wild win over the Ducks. Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard was sitting in the front row at Matthew Knight Arena to support Boise State assistant Phil Beckner, who was an assistant coach at Weber State when Lillard played for the Wildcats and helped develop him. Lillard often spends some time in Boise during the offseason working with Beckner.
We’re only through the first week of December, but college basketball RPI ratings are already becoming an intrigue. The NCAA’s RPI list is one that counts when Selection Sunday rolls around in March. Hard to figure this one, though. Despite Loyola Chicago’s 65-59 win at No. 5 Florida Wednesday night after a 34-point loss in Boise last week, the Broncos dropped from No. 39 to No. 41 yesterday. But a look at RealTimeRPI.com shows Boise State up five spots to No. 38. The big picture: things are looking up for the Mountain West, which has three teams in the top 50. San Diego State is three spots ahead of the Broncos in both RPI ratings—and hey, Nevada is in the top 10 (No. 7 in the NCAA and No. 9 in RealTimeRPI).
It’s not one of the well-known All-America teams, but still says something about the season defensive STUD end Curtis Weaver is having for Boise State. Weaver, the first freshman in Mountain West history to be named first-team all-conference on defense, was tabbed as an honorable mention All-American yesterday by fan site SB Nation. Weaver leads the Mountain West with nine sacks, but his most visible play of the year was his 55-yard fumble return for a touchdown at Washington State in September. That made him a finalist for SB Nation’s Piesman Trophy that goes to the best throw, run or catch by a lineman. Weaver also grabbed an interception last month versus Nevada.
The only thing to report today in Oregon’s coaching search is the surge of support from players for interim coach Mario Cristobal. Numerous tweets have urged the Ducks to give the co-offensive coordinator the head coaching job full-time after Willie Taggart’s departure to Florida State this week. We’re talking influential players, too, like left tackle Tyrell Crosby, voted the Pac-12’s top offensive linemen this week. Crosby added the name “Mario” to his Twitter photo, then tweeted last night that more than 70 players have signed a petition to keep Cristobal as Oregon’s head coach. The Ducks are giving the appearance of a bonded group ahead of the Las Vegas Bowl a week from tomorrow versus Boise State.
There won’t be any local ties wearing whatever shade of green and gold the Oregon Ducks sport in the Las Vegas Bowl. There were three Idahoans on the UO roster last year—this season there are none. Former Rocky Mountain High standout Khalil Oliver left the team at the end of September, saying then that he won’t make a final decision on a transfer destination until he graduates from Oregon this winter. Oliver played in 26 games for the Ducks and was their Special Teams Player of the Year last season. Offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso, a Boise High grad, transferred last summer from Oregon to Cal, where he’s been a starter for Justin Wilcox. Former Highland High defensive lineman Wayne Tei-Kirby transferred to BYU last winter and redshirted this season.
It that time of the year—when clamoring for an eight-team or 16-team playoff in college football hits a crescendo. Of course, that would just mean a No. 9 or a No. 17 would have a gripe with the system instead of No. 5, the way it is now with Ohio State. J.P. Scott of Athlon Sports is a proponent of 16 teams so that “every team in the FBS a path to a national title while also retaining a purpose for a College Football Playoff selection committee.” All 10 FBS conference champs would be in the field, plus six at-large selections. The higher-seeded team would play at home in the first two rounds, then from there the playoffs would proceed just as they do now with the Final Four. The way Scott seeds it, No. 13 Boise State would play at No. 4 Alabama in the first round. It would be a one-and-done, but it would be fun.
DeMarcus Lawrence is back in the NFL lead for sacks with 13.5 this season after picking up two more in Dallas’ win over Washington last week. It’s hard for the former Boise State star not to cast a glance at the future. In a game at Atlanta last month, Lawrence celebrated a sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan by getting on one knee and pretending to dial the combination to a safe. Lawrence is in the final year of his contract and could become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. The Cowboys would have to use their franchise tag to keep him in 2018—at about $17 million guaranteed. Dallas is on the road Sunday against the New York Giants, who have one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. We’ll see what Lawrence does with that fact of life.
The home-and-home series between the Idaho Steelheads and Utah Grizzlies, representing four games in six days, moves to CenturyLink Arena tonight. It should be Philippe Desrosiers’ turn between the pipes after a solid outing by Ryan Faragher in Wednesday’s 5-2 win in West Valley City. Desrosiers stopped 21 of 23 shots against Utah Monday night, extending his personal winning streak to a career-high six games. The 22-year-old from Quebec is now 10-1-1 on the season.
Back to hoops: Marta Hermida teased another triple-double, while Shay Shaw nailed a double-double as the Boise State women raced past Washington 85-62 last night in Taco Bell Arena. Shaw put up 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Shaw scored 16 points and added seven boards and nine assists. The Broncos shot 58 pwercent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range. The 23-point victory comes 10 years to the day since Boise State’s last double-digit victory over a Pac-12 school, an 88-66 rout of the Huskies at Taco Bell Arena.
This Day In Sports…December 8, 2012, five years ago today:
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel becomes the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy after a remarkable season in which he was also the first freshman to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000. Manziel became the frontrunner for the honor after he led the Aggies to a 29-24 road upset of top-ranked Alabama. He’d play for A&M one more year before becoming the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, going to Cleveland. But “Johnny Football” would play sparingly over the next two seasons—and then would find himself out of the sport, derailed by attitude and off-field problems.
(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.)