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Wednesday, October 3, 2018.
Not saying that Boise State is going to sell out Saturday’s game against San Diego State, but a confluence of events may foster a near-capacity crowd at Albertsons Stadium. The dominating win at Wyoming last week creates some momentum. The first October afternoon game since 2012 should have Bronco Nation energized, as well as the fact that this is the longest Boise State fans have had to wait for a second home game in eight years. It’ll be football weather, as we’re about to get our first taste of fall. And then there’s the rivalry with the Aztecs. And I think it is a rivalry, going beyond SDSU coach Rocky Long’s infamous old “They don’t have a mystique” comment about the Broncos. These teams have played five intense games. Boise State is 1-1 versus the Aztecs on the blue turf and 2-1 against them on the road.
If it weren’t for Juwan Washington’s broken clavicle, Boise State would be preparing to stop two standout San Diego State tailbacks on Saturday. But one is going to be enough. Washington’s replacement is Chase Jasmin, who was doing damage even before the injury to Washington. The shifty sophomore rushed for 112 yards to help the Aztecs put away Arizona State three weeks ago after Washington was sidelined with turf toe. Jasmin has rished for 233 yards this season and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The tailbacks just keep on comin’ for San Diego State. Ronnie Hillman was followed by Adam Muema, who was followed by D.J. Pumphrey, who was followed by Rashaad Penny. Jasmin, at least for now, has skipped a step.
Did this nugget fly under the radar? Boise State’s 34-14 triumph at Wyoming was the Broncos’ 200th win of the century. Oklahoma’s 66-33 victory over Baylor was the Sooners’ 200th of the century. What a tangled web we weave. Boise State and Oklahoma—the old Fiesta Bowl mates—are the first two college football programs to reach 200 victories in the 21st century. Ohio State is next in line at 198 wins; then it drops all the way to Alabama at 183. The Sooners, by the way, have played six more games than the Broncos since 2000, so Boise State still leads the nation in winning percentage. If you’re keeping track at home, Oklahoma plays Texas Saturday in the Red River Rivalry in Dallas.
The relatively slow Boise State recruiting season has had little explosions here and there. One of them came Monday night, as four-star running back George Holani of perennial power St. John Bosco in Bellflower, CA, committed to the Broncos. Holani is rated as the No. 14 running back in the nation by 247 Sports. The 6-foot, 195-pounder had six offers from Pac-12 schools and has never been to Boise, but he gave his verbal sight unseen. Bryan Harsin and running backs coach Lee Marks had visited Holani during Boise State’s bye week. “There’s just something about the school that always attracted me to them,” Holani told Greg Biggins of 247 Sports. “When I played NCAA football growing up, I always liked Boise State and always liked the blue field.” Now the Broncos have to hold onto Holani for the next 2½ months.
This week’s USA Today “re-rank” of all 130 FBS teams appears to be more realistic as it pertains to Fresno State. The Bulldogs, who lost at Minnesota by seven points and drilled UCLA by 24 in Pasadena, received zero votes in the AP Poll and one in the Coaches Poll this week. But Paul Myerberg of USA Today is more of a believer after their rout of Toledo, placing the ‘Dogs at No. 24, one spot behind Boise State. Fresno State has the top-ranked Mountain West defense right now and has not allowed 30 points in 15 consecutive games. This from a team that averaged—averaged—a yield of more than 30 points per game in each of the four seasons before coach Jeff Tedford arrived.
Idaho State is nobody’s doormat this year. That’s why Pocatello is so amped up for the Bengals showdown against Idaho Saturday. ISU is off to a 3-1 start, 2-0 in Big Sky play, and is receiving votes in both national polls. During the dark days of Idaho State football—and there have been plenty of them the past two decades—running the ball was a recurring problem. But the Bengals are averaging 240 rushing yards per game this year and boast the current Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week, James Madison, who ran for 146 yards on only 19 carries against Northern Arizona last week. Madison has 429 yards on the season and ranks third in the FCS with seven rushing touchdowns. He’s complemented by Ty Flanagan, who’s netted 334 yards with four TDs.
It’s only the first week of October, but College of Idaho goes in knowing it has to win out to secure a second straight winning season. The 0-5 Coyotes do have a shot at stopping the slide Saturday at Simplot Stadium, though, as 3-2 Carroll College is not the juggernaut it once was. But it’s still Carroll. And it’s still Mike Van Diest coaching the Fighting Saints. Van Diest is in his 20th season in Helena and is 201-50 with six NAIA national championships and 12 Frontier Conference titles. Carroll, however, is last in the conference in total offense right now and is coming off a 27-0 home loss to Southern Oregon two weeks ago. Like the Saints, the Yotes had a bye last week. C of I is trying to right the ship in what had been a season of high expectations.
If nothing else, Jeremy McNichols has rushing statistics in the NFL. Hey, no one can take that away from him. Unfortunately, McNichols was waived by Indianapolis yesterday, two days after he rushed for four yards on two carries in the Colts’ overtime loss to Houston. McNichols’ place on the roster was filled by Robert Turbin, the Utah State product and former Seahawk, who returns this week from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Furthermore, the Colts signed veteran running back Jonathan Williams to their practice squad. Elsewhere, former Bronco Darian Thompson is getting a second chance, as he’s been signed to the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. Thompson was cut by the New York Giants just before the season.
Boise State’s last men’s basketball game against a conference foe came last March in Las Vegas, when the Broncos fell 78-75 to Utah State in the Mountain West Tournament. The Aggies head coach that night, Tim Duryea, has now turned his attention to his old rival. Duryea was scooped up by coach Leon Rice after being fired by USU. He can put all his energy into his specialty, offense, as preseason practice has begun for the Broncos. Duryea’s teams have always taken good shots—and made them. Utah State had the most efficient offense in the Mountain West two years ago, as the Aggies shot a conference-best 46.1 percent from the floor and were No. 2 in three-point shooting at 37.9 percent.
This Day In Sports…brought to you by POOL DOCTOR & SPA…so many ways to soak and save!
October 3, 1951: Bobby Thomson hits the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” in the deciding game of the National League playoff series between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth—and the Dodgers leading 4-2—Thomson belted a three-run homer off Ralph Branca to give the Giants a 5-4 victory and the National League title. You can still hear the old recording of announcer Russ Hodges: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”
(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.)