It wasn’t supposed to be this way

Presented by POOL DOCTOR & SPA.
Monday, October 8, 2018.

Of all the weird things I thought could happen in Boise State’s game against San Diego State Saturday, a total egg laid by the Bronco offense was not one of them. The formula for beating the Aztecs was not going to be on the ground against the No. 2 rush defense in the country. It was supposed to be a rejuvenated Brett Rypien who would take apart an Aztec secondary that hadn’t been up to par. Instead, Rypien threw his first interception of the year in the first quarter—and then another. His throws were off, the deep balls weren’t there, and the varied blitzes brought by the SDSU defenders had him on his heels. It could not have been a more discouraging day. Terrible timing with Albertsons Stadium’s fourth-largest crowd in history (36,679) there.

The 19-13 loss produced the second-fewest points on the blue turf by Boise State since the school moved to the FBS in 1996. (And what would have happened had the Broncos not recovered a muffed punt on the San Diego State four-yard line to set up their first touchdown?) Boise State had just 72 yards at halftime and 122 at the end of third quarter. The Broncos finished with 229 yards, their fewest at home in 20 years. Symbolic of the day: Boise State had one sustained drive in the game, the 73-yard scoring march in the fourth quarter that provided a glimmer of hope. And Joel Velazquez missed the extra point. The Broncos could have rallied to win without it. But still.

The use of Chase Cord was curious in this game. Boise State’s backup quarterback made several cameos—including the one in the second quarter during which he was hit as he threw, resulting in his first career interception (San Diego State converted it into a crucial touchdown). Then Cord was inserted into the game with 10 minutes remaining. Was it a QB change? Not exactly. After five plays, Rypien came back in on a third-and-five and threw several yards clear of an open Chase Blakley. Cord was 1-of-3 with the pick and rushed twice for six yards. Montell Cozart really crossed up the Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium last year. This was not the same at all.

The Boise State defense could only hold up for so long. It was put in myriad difficult situations, getting out of two of them by holding San Diego State to field goals. The one letdown came on the 72-yard touchdown run by Jordan Byrd in the fourth quarter. The Broncos stacked the box on a third-and-two, and the Aztecs hit it outside. Other than that play, Boise State held SDSU to 195 yards, and just 82 on the ground by a team that prides itself on the rush. What ails this Boise State team is not the defense, but an offense that has come to depend on Rypien—and can’t survive that when he has a bad day like he did Saturday. The offensive line that came into the season with such high expectations cannot get anything going in the running game.

All you need to know about the Mountain Division race in the Mountain West (beyond that blue turf episode Saturday) happened Friday night in Provo. It wasn’t a conference game, but Utah State served notice in a 45-20 rout of BYU at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Jordan Love threw for four touchdowns, while the USU defense didn’t allow much from the Cougars’ Tanner Mangum other than dink-and-dunk. The game that directly affects the road ahead for Boise State is Fresno State’s 21-3 win at Nevada Saturday night. The Wolf Pack had to go without star quarterback Ty Gangi due to serious swelling in his thigh after the Pack’s win at Air Force the week before. Nevada coach Jay Norvell hopes Gangi will be able to play against the Broncos.

Idaho’s defense was not prepared for the havoc the Idaho State offense wrought in an unfathomable 62-28 loss to the Bengals Saturday in Holt Arena. ISU rolled up a staggering 754 yards on the Vandals as Tanner Gueller threw for 492 yards and—would you believe?—eight touchdowns. Gueller averaged 25.9 yards per completion (not a typo) and had three receivers top 100 yards. The Bengals gained 10.9 yards per snap on the day. Idaho’s offense rolled up 541 yards, it’s most since the 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. So much for that. For the Vandal defense to be so over-matched in an in-state game that was so hyped is mind-blowing.

At least one Treasure Valley team had a happy ending Saturday. College of Idaho snapped its five-game losing streak and won its first game of the season with a 28-7 thrashing of Carroll College. The seven points was significant against a team that was the envy of the NAIA when the Coyotes brought back football in 2014. The defense recorded six sacks and held the Fighting Saints to 39 yards rushing, the fewest allowed by the Yotes since the return of the sport. All the while, C of I quarterback Darius-James Peterson was rushing for 132 yards and breaking Teejay Gordon’s school record for career total offense. DJP now has 5,508 yards.

Safe to say Troy Merritt is healthy again after healing from that emergency blood clot surgery two months ago. The former Boise State star staged an amazing back-nine rally yesterday to finish in a tie for fourth at the Safeway Open, the inaugural event of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season. Merritt went into the final round in the top 10 but dropped to 15th after three bogeys in his first seven holes. Then he tore up Silverado down the stretch, clocking birdies on five of the last six holes to come in at four-under 68. Merritt ended up just one shot behind the three participants in a playoff (won by Kevin Tway) and made $241,280.

Maybe we got some insight the past three days on why far-flung recruits are drawn to Boise State. Damon Amendolara and Sean Mraz are wrapping up their first “Permission Granted” tour this morning, doing the DA Show live on CBS Sports Network from the KTIK studios. DA and Mraz were both sincerely blown away by the response they received in Boise and the Treasure Valley, especially the genuine friendliness of the people. They had no idea what to expect (especially Mraz, who had “never been to the mountains”). KTIK didn’t either. It was an unqualified success, though. Except maybe for three hours Saturday afternoon.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.

October 8, 1995: Probably the most memorable moment in Seattle Mariners history, as Edgar Martinez beats the Yankees in the Kingdome with a dramatic double in the playoffs. Martinez brought home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to rally the M’s to a 6-5 win, sending them to the American League Championship Series for the first time. Seattle would, however, lose the ALCS in six games to the Cleveland Indians. Not only have the Mariners never been to the World Series, they haven’t so much as made the playoffs since 2001.

(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.)

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