SCOTT SLANT: No. 21 in the top spot now?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021.

As the clock counts down to kickoff against Air Force Saturday night, the chances of Andrew Van Buren being Boise State’s starting running back against the Falcons increase. The Broncos coaching staff doesn’t sound hopeful of a George Holani sighting anytime soon, and Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s status is to be determined. So it’s beginning to look a lot like 2020. But Van Buren, the senior from West Hills, CA, seems to have accepted his role this season and would no doubt relish the opportunity to change the narrative with a start versus Air Force.  

Van Buren was skewered last year when he averaged only 3.4 yards per carry while filling in for Holani. Hey, Van Buren is getting just 2.8 yards per tote this season. But to this point, he’s been summoned more often than not in short yardage situations and has scored five touchdowns after scoring eight in 2020. Van Buren is up to 240 pounds this year from 228 last fall. Can he be an every-down workhorse Saturday? In that scenario, he’d be backed up by Tyler Crowe and Taequan Tyler. Only one of Crowe’s 12 carries this season has been outside of mopup time, but I think everyone is curious how the Skyview High grad would do in the heat of the battle.  

DALMAS OUT-KICKED FOR MW HONOR

Coming out of the BYU victory with four field goals, it seemed like Boise State’s Jonah Dalmas was a primo candidate for Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week. That was until Colorado State beat San Jose State 32-14, with Rams kicker Cayden Camper tying a Mountain West record by booting six field goals, one of them from 53 yards out. That doesn’t take away from the year Dalmas is having. The sophomore out of Rocky Mountain is 14-for-16 on field goals this season and has connected for at least one in 11 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Bronco since Tyler Rausa’s run five years ago. As for CSU, we should point out that the team that was given up for dead after falling to South Dakota State and Vanderbilt has clawed its way back to 2-3.

THE TICKET OFFICE IS IN THE MOMENT

No telling what attendance would have been in Albertsons Stadium Saturday night had Boise State not performed like it did in Provo last week. But the Air Force game is getting a big bump from the Broncos victory. And the marketing department folks are helping the cause in a very creative way. They’ve taken the score of the BYU game and drummed up $26.17 tickets for the final three home games of the season (for a limited time, of course). Technically, Boise State isn’t reaching athletic director Jeramiah Dickey’s target of six sellouts in six games, but it’s been close enough at 36,549 per game. Now the Broncos would like fans to finish—like the way they did last Saturday.

ONE FINAL BYU POSTSCRIPT

Let me preface this by saying Brandon Judd of the Deseret News posted this column last Thursday, before the Boise State-BYU game. So Judd’s contention that the series should continue after BYU goes to the Big 12 is only strengthened after what happened last Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Judd’s three key reasons to keep it going: attendance numbers are strong, it’s a competitive series, and both teams are nationally relevant. The four games in the current series played in Provo have averaged 61,825 fans per game, and two of the biggest crowds in Albertsons Stadium history have come during BYU games. The Cougars will have limited non-conference opportunities in the Big 12—one idea is for BYU to rotate between Boise State, Utah and Utah State every year to keep all three rivalries going.

SPEAKING OF RIVALRY GAMES

It’s been 11 years now since Boise State and Idaho have met in football. And this is the Vandals’ fourth season back in the Big Sky. So who is their primary rival? As much as people want it to be Idaho State, coach Paul Petrino has us thinking it’s Eastern Washington. Idaho plays the second-ranked Eagles in Cheney this Saturday on the red field, and Petrino was all about it Tuesday on Idaho SportsTalk. “Our guys don’t like Eastern, and they don’t like us,” he said. Petrino pointed out that not only are the schools close geographically, with players knowing each other pretty well, this will be the third time within the calendar year that Idaho and EWU have faced off (they played twice during the COVID-delayed season last spring, with the Vandals upsetting the Eagles in the first of those meetings).

ANOTHER KELLEN MOORE RUMOR MILL

There it was Tuesday, next to the headline “10 coaches the Raiders could hire to replace Jon Gruden in 2022”: a photo of Kellen Moore with his headset on, standing next to Dallas coach Mike McCarthy. This should not surprise anybody, as watching Moore’s Cowboys offense is almost as much fun as taking in Boise State’s was when Kellen was still the quarterback 10 years ago. But I don’t see Moore as a fit with Raiders owner Mark Davis. That will be important to him. Kellen will also want the types of pieces he has in Dallas. He might enjoy working with Derek Carr, who he faced once as a player. But the Raiders don’t have the running backs and receivers that would enable Moore—and whomever he’d hire as his offensive coordinator—to work magic. Odds are there will be a head coaching fit somewhere in the NFL, though.

MID-EVENING MADNESS

With freeze warnings left and right, can college basketball be far behind? Believe it or not, College of Idaho’s men’s season opener is two weeks from Friday. So it’s high time for “Meet The Yotes Night,” especially since the Coyotes played before no spectators last season. It happens tonight at the J.A. Albertson Activities Center, with a skills challenge, a three-point shootout and short intrasquad scrimmages from both the men and women.  

This Day In Sports…brought to you by GREENWOOD’S SKI HAUS…serving generations of Idaho ski families!

October 13, 1979: Boise State, now on a roll after a 9-7 Opening Night loss to Long Beach State, visits the Kibbie Dome and wins its fifth straight game in a 41-17 romp past Idaho. Quarterback Joe Aliotti was 20-of-24 for a completion percentage of 83 percent, a Bronco record that would stand for 23 years. Boise State would go on to finish 10-1 overall and 7-0 in the Big Sky, but would stay home for the Division I-AA Playoffs. The Broncos were ineligible for the Big Sky championship and the postseason while on probation for an illegal scouting incident the previous season.

(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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