Tyler Horn, the Senior Night throwback

It’s probably with mixed emotions that you read this. It’s probably with mixed emotions that you read this. You may just be happy for the experience-of-a-lifetime Tyler Horn has had in his five-year career at Boise State as he prepares to walk out for Senior Night before the Air Force game this evening. Or it may have you longing for the olden days. Horn, the defensive end from Mountain View High, is the only Bronco remaining who played on the 2011 team that went 12-1 and capped Kellen Moore’s career with a 56-24 win over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. There’s one name for you. How about some others who were teammates of Horn’s when he was a true freshman: Doug Martin, D.J. Harper, Tyler Shoemaker, Kyle Efaw, George Iloka, Shea McClellin, Tyrone Crawford and Billy Winn. How are you feeling? Melancholy, or happily nostalgic? Talk amongst yourselves.

Horn, one of 20 seniors to be honored tonight, has seen it all. Last season he experienced the heartbreak of an Opening Night knee injury against Ole Miss at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. But Horn’s second chance at a senior season has been solid—he has 32 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, and a 45-yard interception that ended up a couple feet short of a touchdown. His feelings about the game against Air Force won’t be different than any other Bronco, regardless of age. Horn and his teammates don’t want to shutter their hopes for a Mountain West championship, and they especially don’t want to be the team that suffers two straight losses on the blue turf for the first time in 18 years.

It’s going to be cold tonight, though it’ll be nothing like that nine-degree San Diego State game last November. Boise State is hoping it can get fans to reignite this week after the disappointment of the loss to New Mexico. The seniors deserve as much. Bronco Nation has to know it makes a difference. Lobos coach Bob Davie sure noticed it last Saturday. “I tell you, I’ve got to compliment their fans,” Davie said. “That’s a home field advantage there—I mean, they almost willed it. Their fans almost willed them to win that game. What did we have, eight false starts, nine false starts?” I do know the crowd that is there tonight will be there for a reason. It’ll be like the Mountain West championship game against Fresno State last year, when noise from the 26,101 in attendance made up for those who weren’t there.

We’ve talked about the similarities between what New Mexico’s offense did to Boise State and what Air Force’s did to Utah State. Here’s a comparison on the other side of the ball. Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien threw for 506 yards on a record 75 attempts against New Mexico, while Utah State QB Kent Myers passed for 347 yards on 47 throws at Air Force. Rypien’s completion percentage was 55 percent, and Myers’ was 54. The difference—Rypien had two touchdowns and three interceptions against New Mexico, while the Air Force defense allowed four TDs and grabbed just one pick versus Myers. It can be argued that without nine or so drops last week, Rypien would have had a similar ratio—and he can tomorrow night if the Broncos can just get back to normal.

This week the Mountain West game outside Boise that will draw the most attention is Colorado State at New Mexico, although we learned last week what a waste of time scoreboard-watching can be. The Lobos are 1½-point underdogs to CSU despite the roll they’re on. Utah State is a 15-point favorite over Nevada in Logan, and oddsmakers think Fresno State is going to get worked in Provo—BYU is the pick by 26½ points. Also tomorrow, San Diego State is at UNLV and San Jose State visits Hawaii.

Speaking of point spreads, Idaho is a 33½-point underdog at Auburn tomorrow. Two things to consider here: Vandal quarterback Matt Linehan is capable of explosive plays, and the Tigers’ offense hasn’t been all that this season. Auburn is averaging just under 369 yards and 26 points per game. The fear for Idaho fans is that their team will be respectable at halftime—and not so after that. If the Vandals could lead 30-7 at New Mexico State and 24-0 at South Alabama and have nothing to show for it, what will happen at an SEC venue? Idaho fell at Jordan-Hare Stadium by just seven, 30-23, in Chris Tormey’s final season in 1999.

You’ve gotta like this headline at ESPN.com: “First-round bust? Shea McClellin proving he belongs at inside linebacker.” ESPN staff writer Jeff Dickerson has props for the former Boise State star, who led the Bears with eight tackles (nine after a coaches’ review) and forced and recovered a fumble in the Bears’ 37-13 romp at St. Louis. The Marsing High grad was key in holding Rams phenom Todd Gurley to just 45 yards on 12 carries. “McClellin admitted he sometimes wonders how life would have been different if he entered the league at inside linebacker instead of bouncing around from defensive end to strong-side linebacker,” writes Dickerson. ‘I think you always have those thoughts, and definitely with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs here (early in my career); I think that would have helped out at a young age,’ McClellin said.”

The Boise State men’s basketball team did what it could against a bigger, deeper opponent last night before falling 88-76 to No. 12 Arizona. The Broncos played a great first half that saw 13 lead changes ahead of a 42-40 Wildcat lead at the break. Arizona was en fuego in the second half but still didn’t carve out a double-digit lead until 3½ minutes remained in the game. “You learn a lot from playing games like this,” said coach Leon Rice on his Learfield Sports postgame show on KBOI. “We’re in ‘get better’ mode. It can give you a lot of excitement and hope that we can be a really good team.”

Boise State’s James Webb III was at his best at the McKale Center last night. After a slow start, Webb finished with a career-high 27 points and added nine rebounds. Nick Duncan’s three-pointers were falling in the first half, but he canned only one in the second. The Australian junior scored 21 points, 16 of them before the intermission. Anthony Drmic started well, putting up eight points in the first 10 minutes, but the Wildcats put a drape on Drmic after that, and he notched just a free throw the rest of the way. The Broncos have depth this season, but not the elite depth the Wildcats do. Boise State was outscored in bench points 38-3. The Broncos return home Monday night to face Concordia.

On the local pro sports front, Bakersfield is in to face the Idaho Stampede tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena. Ira Newble, who played for the Stampede in their first three seasons, is now an assistant coach with the Jam. Newble went on to an eight-year NBA career with five teams after his Idaho days in the old CBA. And the Idaho Steelheads finish their three-game series at Colorado tonight and tomorrow night after snapping a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday. The Steelheads have played in five overtime/shootout games this season, more than any other ECHL team. They are 1-3 in OT contests and 1-0 in the shootout.

Around the horn: At the beginning of the week there was still a lot of confusion over where the state 5A championship game would be played. Thankfully, Rocky Mountain and Mountain View will play at Albertsons Stadium tomorrow at 12:30. There’ll be plenty of room for everybody. It’s the first all-Treasure Valley big-school title game in six years. The College of Idaho men’s hoops team hosts a new tournament this weekend, the Dominos Classic. The Coyotes face Montana Tech tonight and Metro State tomorrow night. C of I coach Scott Garson calls Metro State “the Duke of NCAA Division II basketball—quite possibly the highest-profile team ever to play in Caldwell.” And the Boise State men’s and women’s cross country teams run at the NCAA Championships tomorrow in Louisville. Anxious to see where Allie Ostrander finishes.

Toronto’s Josh Donaldson has become the first former Boise Hawk to win a major league Most Valuable Player award. Donaldson, in his first season with the Blue Jays after establishing himself as a force in Oakland, earned the AL honor with 41 home runs and a league-leading 123 runs batted in. And Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge carded a two-under 70 yesterday in the first round of the RSM Classic in Sea Island, GA. Aldridge will need a solid 18 today to make the cut.

This Day In Sports…November 20, 1982:

On the final play of the game, now known as “The Play,” California makes five laterals on a kickoff return to score the game-winning touchdown as the Bears defeat Stanford in the Big Game, 25-20, spoiling John Elway’s final game with the Cardinal. The Cal players had to weave their way through the Stanford band, which had prematurely come out onto the field—with a trombone player being leveled in the endzone.