Boise State’s game at Colorado State once looked like it was in the danger zone. Going into the season, Boise State’s game at Colorado State looked like the most dangerous one on the Broncos’ Mountain West schedule next to Utah State. Even three weeks ago. What would the point spread against CSU have been at that time? Boise State by 3½ points? Now it’s 16 as the Broncos prepare for their contest in Hughes Stadium Saturday. The Rams were coming off a 10-win season with one of the nation’s most productive quarterbacks, Garrett Grayson. But the coach of that squad, Jim McElwain, is off to Florida and is making waves for the Gators now. And Grayson is backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans. Colorado State looked gritty in overtime losses to Minnesota and Colorado, but now the “quality” of those losses is being questioned. Remember, though, that the Broncos will be wearing a big bullseye at CSU.
The Broncos have a “Respect All, Fear None” sign in their locker room, one they take on the road with them (along with a patch of blue turf). This game falls into the “Respect All” category. Defensive tackle Tyler Horn, the only Boise State player left from the 2011 team, knows how to approach weeks like this in the face of all the national notoriety the defense is getting. “We’re not going to be complacent,” said Horn. “We have really good coaches, and they don’t let anything slide.” Not that the senior from Mountain View doesn’t find things to his liking right now. The Broncos are ranked in the top 10 in the country in eight different defensive categories. “It’s exciting, because there’s so much more we can do,” Horn said.
Horn is bent on going out in style in this, his second shot at a senior season. His first one was wiped out by a knee injury in the 2014 opener (but not before he had made four tackles and logged a sack in the first half against Ole Miss). “This year has probably been one of the funnest years of football I’ve ever played,” said Horn. “I’m enjoying every moment of it.” He finally grabbed his first sack of the season in the win over Hawaii. “I got the first one out of the way,” Horn said. “It took longer than I wanted it to.” Saturday he returns to Fort Collins for the third time in his career. Horn had one of the best games of his true freshman season four years ago at Colorado State, with three tackles and half a sack.
Watching dropped passes is like watching skateboard crash videos. It’s just painful. Even Boise State fans had to wince at some of the balls Hawaii’s receivers missed last week. I don’t have official Colorado State numbers for this, but I’m thinking there had to be some drops in last week’s 33-18 loss at Utah State. Quarterback Nick Stevens completed just 21 of 46 passes. Stevens did throw for 252 yards and one touchdown, but in today’s offenses, a 46 percent completion rate is alarming. USU’s pass rush played a significant role.
There are no givens in Boise State’s quest for another New Year’s Six bowl. This comes from a “Group of Five update” via Kevin McGuire at NBCSports.com. “Here is how I would rank the current Group of Five contenders at this moment if I had a seat on the College Football Playoff selection committee,” writes McGuire. “Toledo: Still owns the best victory over a P5 school in Arkansas. Memphis: Offense still scary despite tight one at USF, gets Ole Miss next after a bye. Temple: Wins against Penn State and Cincinnati look a little better now, could be undefeated when Notre Dame comes to Philly. Boise State: The best one-loss team in the Group of Five field and surging, but how much will MWC hold Broncos back? Navy: Midshipmen letting Keenan Reynolds do his thing, just beat Air Force by 22. Big win for AAC, tough loss for MWC.”
Paul J. Schneider hit me up with this trivia question in the halls: who leads the FBS this week in red zone offense? It is Idaho. The Vandals are a perfect 17-for-17 in scoring on trips into the red zone. They just haven’t been in the red zone enough, while their opponents have been there far too much. Idaho should be burning the midnight oil now during its bye week as it searches for answers on defense. The Vandals are in the bottom 10 in the country in six different defensive categories. The one defensive breakthrough in last week’s 49-35 loss at Arkansas State came from senior linebacker Chris Edwards. His 20-yard interception return for a touchdown was Idaho’s first pick-six in four years. The Vandals return to action a week from Saturday at Troy.
The College of Idaho is looking for rejuvenation this week, hoping a 700-mile bus ride to Havre, MT, doesn’t get in the way. The Coyotes visit Montana State-Northern as they try to snap a four-game losing streak. September was a frustrating month for the Yotes. They dropped a one-point contest to Pacific, fell in the final seconds at No. 17 Montana Western, were within a touchdown in the second half against No. 4 Southern Oregon, and had the lead going into the fourth quarter before losing to Montana Tech.
The Idaho Steelheads roster has grown a bit this week, with one of the six new additions being a goalie. The Steelheads have needed a second one to join Chris Rawlings. Philippe Desrosiers was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft in by the Dallas Stars. Desrosiers comes in with a nice junior hockey portfolio. He played just over three seasons with Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, with a record of 83-33-15 and a .902 save percentage. And Desrosiers was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Goaltender of the Year last season. The “season-ticket-holders-only” exhibition game against the Utah Grizzlies is set for tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena.
How about that Kyle Schwarber? The former Boise Hawk knocked in a first-inning run that would prove to be all Cubs ace Jake Arrieta would need in a 4-0 win at Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card game last night. But for good measure, Schwarber blasted a two-run homer into the Allegheny River in the third inning. He hit 16 homers in just 232 at-bats in the regular season. Hitting right behind Schwarber in the Cubs’ order was fellow ex-Hawk Kris Bryant, the NL Rookie of the Year favorite after batting .275 with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs. Bryant went 0-for-3. Javier Baez and Matt Szczur are also on the Chicago roster—there are nine Boise alums still alive in the postseason.
The season is over for former Hawk Josh Harrison of the Pirates. Harrison was sidelined by a thumb injury on 4th of July weekend and missed a month and a half, but he finished on a hot streak after South Korean phenom Jung-ho Kang was lost for the year with an injury. Harrison went 5-for-8 last weekend—the sparkplug infielder/outfielder ended the regular season with a .287 average and 10 stolen bases. We’ll never know how far he could have taken it in October.
This Day In Sports…October 8, 1956:
One of the defining moments in World Series history, as Yankee pitcher Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in a 2-0 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen would end up Series MVP as the Yanks won another world championship. Nothing else in Larsen’s major league career came close to what happened that day—he was 81-91 with nine different teams over 14 years.
(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.)