If the top 25 projections out right now have the “way too early” tag on them, you can take this with a grain of salt, too. But we do have odds for 44 Week 1 games in college football (plus two “Zero Week” contests). According to BetOnline.com, Boise State opens as a 10½-point favorite at Troy, which is a stout spread on the road against a team that went 11-2 and won a bowl game last season. The Broncos beat the Trojans by just 11 points on the blue turf last September, and the crowd at Veterans Memorial Stadium could top 30,000 for the first time on Labor Day weekend.
Two Mountain West teams play each other during Zero Week, on Saturday, August 25. Colorado State hosts Hawaii and is a two-touchdown favorite. Other Week 1 odds of note: Stanford gets San Diego State at home to wrap up the schools’ home-and-home series and is favored by 14 points over the Aztecs, who won 20-17 last year at Qualcomm Stadium. Utah State is expected to absorb a beating at Michigan State; the Aggies are 27-point underdogs. And after hosting Oregon last September and getting thumped 49-13, Wyoming gets another Pac-12 foe in Laramie. Washington State is a four-point favorite over the Cowboys.
Let’s kick off the 2018 “watch list season” with Boise State’s Kekoa Nawahine, who is on the docket for the Lott IMPACT Trophy that goes to the defensive player who has the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field. Nawahine is one of 42 candidates announced (representing Lott’s uniform number). The junior safety out of Rocky Mountain High had a breakout season for the Broncos in 2017, recording 108 tackles, second on the team behind Leighton Vander Esch. Nawahine also had three interceptions for 64 yards. He and DeAndre Pierce are a formidable tandem at the safety spot, and they each have two seasons to go.
OTA (organized team activity) season is here in the NFL, giving Leighton Vander Esch his first opportunity to get on the field the veterans in Dallas The Cowboys went to work yesterday and continue the first portion of their OTAs through tomorrow. This feeling has to be similar to the one Vander Esch had coming out of Salmon River High in Riggins. He was fresh off his redshirt year in the summer of 2015, just trying to earn his keep, when he spoke to the media for the first time as a Bronco. “Coming from a small town and doing the things that my team and I did in high school, now it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “That stuff was the world to me in high school, but I had to forget about that and start over.” Vander Esch is starting over again, although his status now is a ton different than that of a college walk-on.
Former Boise State star Cedrick Wilson also gets his first taste of drills with returning Dallas players. But Wilson has already seen one of his primary competitors at wide receiver multiple times—at rookie minicamp and in the Mountain West. Wilson was the Cowboys’ sixth-round draft pick, while Michael Gallup out of Colorado State was a third-rounder. Dane Brugler, senior NFL draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com told the Dallas Morning News, “I don’t expect Gallup to ever reach true ‘No. 1’ status. That would mean he belongs in the same conversation as Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, etc. and I just don’t think he’ll make that type of impact. But one of the biggest myths in the NFL is that you need a No. 1 wideout on offense.” I guess that’s good news for not only Gallup, but Wilson.
Back to Vander Esch—that famous bus is ready to roll out of Riggins. The rig that was refurbished by his dad and friends has been painted anew since the NFL Draft, and Boise State fans will be happy to know Vander Esch’s Bronco roots have not disappeared. His dad, Darwin, tweeted a couple photos of the bus. It has “55 Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys” on the front, but No. 55 splits time with good ol’ No. 38 (and plenty of blue and orange) on the side.
Former Idaho Steelheads announcer Will Hoenike said it best: “The guys wins everywhere he goes.” One-time Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph is in the Kelly Cup Finals, now as the head man for the Florida Everblades. Ralph won 132 games in three seasons with the Steelheads from 2012-15 before moving on to Kelowna of the Western Hockey League. Oddly, it didn’t work out in Kelowna despite Ralph nearly leading the Rockets to the WHL championship in his one and only campaign. So he took over the Everblades last season, and how he’s the ECHL Coach of the Year. Florida awaits the winner of the Western Conference Finals between Colorado and Fort Wayne. Game 7 is tonight in Loveland.
They’re saying former Boise Hawk Gleyber Torres is on an historic trajectory as a rookie. It might be early for that, but Torres keeps raising his own bar. He hit another home run last night, his seventh in 26 games. Monday night the Yankees second baseman clubbed two homers off the Rangers’ Bartolo Colon, who turns 45 years old tomorrow. Torres, who was three months old when Colon made his major league debut, became the youngest Yank to achieve a multi-homer game since Mickey Mantle in 1952. Torres is now hitting .330. I don’t know how far last night’s homer went, but each of his first six traveled at least 400 feet. Torres would be the leading AL Rookie of the Year candidate were it not for Angels phenom Shohei Ohtaki.
This Day In Sports…May 23, 2002:
Shawn Green of the Los Angeles Dodgers sets a major league record by amassing 19 total bases in a 16-3 shellacking of the Brewers in Milwaukee. How did he do it? Green went 6-for-6 and became the 14th player in big league history to hit four home runs in one game. His total bases broke the record of 18, held by Joe Adcock of the Milwaukee Braves since 1954.
(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.)