Great start, and almost a great finish

Earlier in the day, Oregon had dropped from No. 13 to No. 23 in the AP Poll. For a good chunk of their game against Boise State last night, the Ducks looked like they might fall all the way out of the rankings this week. The Broncos led for about 32½ minutes in Matthew Knight Arena, coming close to snapping Oregon’s 27-game home-court winning streak before falling 68-63. Trailing 6-2 a couple minutes in, Boise State went on a 13-0 run, keyed by a trio of Nick Duncan three-pointers. The lead would reach 14 points in the first half before the Ducks narrowed the margin to three at the break. It didn’t seem like it would last, but it did—until 3½ minutes remained in the game.

Boise State got contributions from all corners. Point guard Paris Austin ran the show, leading the Broncos with 16 points and four assists. Zach Haney, who hadn’t played much of late, came off the bench to play 24 miniutes and score seven points with seven rebounds. Duncan ended with five buckets from beyond the arc and 15 points, although he did miss three treys down the stretch. True freshman Justinian Jessup’s growth continued—he connected on three from deep and scored 11 points. Jessup scored five pressurized points midway through the second half as Boise State continued to fend off the Ducks. The game wasn’t so much a learning experience as a confidence-builder for the SMU game tomorrow night—and for the Mountain West down the line.

Today we talk about Brett Rypien’s pass efficiency anomaly. In terms of accuracy, Rypien had easily the worst day of his career, completing less than 35 percent of his throws (9-of-26) in the 27-20 loss at Air Force. But those nine completions covered 316 yards. He had a good pass efficiency rating at 149.4, thanks to 12.15 yards per attempt and the fact he didn’t throw an interception. Therefore, Rypien’s season pass efficiency rating didn’t take that much of a hit, dropping to 162.3. He’s still eighth in the country. Rypien has thrown for 3,341 yards and 23 touchdowns against six interceptions. The numbers have come in peaks and valleys, but they’re good. Not that it makes him or anyone else feel any better right now.

Boise State fans are now left to root for the “other Broncos,” if only for the sake of the much-maligned Group of 5. Wyoming and San Diego State are limping into the Mountain West championship game this Saturday after giving up a combined 119 points over the weekend. The MW is out, so Western Michigan has to carry the banner. If WMU doesn’t win the MAC championship Friday night to go undefeated and advance to the Cotton Bowl, the Group of 5 has not put its best foot forward. Navy’s the only other candidate right now as it goes to the AAC title tilt. But the Midshipmen have a loss to, uh, Air Force in Colorado Springs. And what if both Western Michigan and Navy lose this week? The Cotton Bowl would be lampooned.

When Dan Hawkins was at Boise State, we got used to his phrase, “He’s a Davis guy.” Hawkins came from the Jim Sochor coaching tree at UC Davis. So did Chris Petersen and Gary Patterson and Mike Bellotti and Mike Moroski. Now, Hawkins goes home again, as he has taken the head coaching job with the Aggies rather than go cross-country to become offensive coordinator at Florida International. This is certainly a better fit. Hawk took the Bronco program up a notch—all the way into the Top 25 and even the Top 10—after taking over 15 years ago. Thing didn’t go so well at him at Colorado. Conversely, CU was not a fit. At UC Davis, Hawkins replaces one-time Boise State secondary coach Ron Gould, who was fired after going 12-33 over four seasons.

One of the two job openings in the Mountain West is churning an interesting name already. Dan Wolken of USA Today reports that Colorado co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren may be a candidate for the San Jose State post vacated by the firing of Ron Caragher. Lindgren is a former quarterback at Idaho who threw for 6,541 yards and 44 touchdowns in three seasons as an off-and-on starter. He set the FBS single-game record for the most passing yards in a game by a sophomore with 637 yards in a 2001 loss at Middle Tennessee. He was on CU coach Mike McIntyre’s staff with the Spartans in 2012 and went to Boulder with him the following season.

All season long, people wondered why BYU didn’t try to preserve a redshirt year for Tanner Mangum in the hopes Taysom Hill would stay healthy. Mangum, the Eagle High grad, had played in only one game before November 12 and did not attempt a pass. He then came on in mopup versus Southern Utah and was 11-of-13 for 121 yards. Mangum completed his only throw of the game against Utah State Saturday for a five-yard touchdown. Indeed, he was in due to an elbow injury to Hill, and it turns out Hill’s career is over. So the Cougars will be Mangum’s team when they face a foe to be determined in the Poinsettia Bowl next month. Hill suffered four season-ending injuries at BYU, and three of them came against USU in games played in Provo.

Doug Martin is starting to get his mojo back. The former Boise State star carried 23 times for 87 yards Sunday, a season high in Tampa Bay’s 14-5 win over Seattle. Still, Martin has to thank the Buccaneers’ defense for an assist. He fumbled in the fourth quarter, giving the desperate Seahawks the ball at their own 41-yard line. But the Bucs turned the ‘Hawks away with a turnover. Elsewhere, NFL teams seem to be figuring out ex-Bronco Jay Ajayi after his midseason surge. Ajayi was held to 45 yards on 18 carries in Miami’s 31-24 victory over San Francisco. But Ajayi was playing through a sore Achilles tendon that required sideline treatment. He did score his seventh touchdown of the season. Ajayi has rushed for 201 yards in the past three games after totaling 529 rushing yards in the previous three.

The Idaho Steelheads will be without not only goalie Landon Bow, but defenseman Brandon Anselmini as well when they opoen a three-game series against the Alaska Aces tomorrow night. Like Bow, Anselmini has been called up by the AHL’s Texas Stars. Anselmini’s eight power play points are tops among ECHL rookies and defensemen—he has two goals and nine assists overall. Anselmini was already under an AHL contract with Texas and was assigned to the Steelheads during training camp in October.

Boise State’s first Mountain West women’s volleyball championship resulted in MW Player of the Year honors for Sierra Nobley and a second straight Coach of the Year nod for Shawn Garus. Other Broncos on the All-Mountain West team: Maddy O’Donnell, Kaitlyn Oliver and Maddi Osburn. And College of Idaho has it first-ever first-team Academic All-American. It’s defensive back Nate Moore, the senior from Mountain View High, who made the college division squad yesterday. Only 24 players were named, and Moore was the only Frontier Conference player on the list. He finished the 2016 season with a school-record 119 tackles, ranking among the top 10 in the NAIA. Moore added three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

This Day In Sports…November 29, 1982:

The first Boise State game ever played in the BSU Pavilion (now Taco Bell Arena), as Michigan State tops the Broncos, 71-59. MSU was just 2½ years removed from its national championship with Magic Johnson and was still coached by Judd Heathcote, the one-time Montana coach who was familiar with Boise State through old Big Sky battles. The Spartans were led that night by freshman point guard Scott Skiles, a future NBA coach with the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.

(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.)