Scott Slant Wednesday Weekly: A deeper dive into 10-win seasons

In case you missed it on Sunday Sports Extra, it’s worth expanding on that coveted 10-win season Boise State earned with its victory over North Texas in the Frisco Bowl.The Broncos just completed their 55th season as a four-year program, and they’ve now had 10-win seasons in 26 of them. Do the math, and that comes out to 47 percent. Boise State has had 18 10-win campaigns in the 27 seasons since joining Division I-A in 1996. Only Alabama and Oklahoma, with 20 apiece, have more. And those 18 for the Broncos, in fact, have all come during the past 24 seasons, since the school’s amazing run took off in 1999. Seventy-five percent, anyone? Sure, Boise State isn’t where it was 10 years ago, and appearances in the top 25 aren’t regular anymore. But you can’t question the Broncos’ legacy of winning.


When Boise State’s offense was stuck in the mud at halftime last Saturday night, managing just 133 yards and in a 10-6 hole against North Texas in the Frisco Bowl, did anyone think it felt strangely familiar? The Broncos had been there before—against San Diego State in September, for example, when they trailed the Aztecs 13-0 at the break. The offense’s second half performance versus the Mean Green was very similar to that one, as Boise State rushed for 240 yards in the third and fourth quarters, ending up with 318 total on the ground. Dirk Koetter went out in a blaze of glory in the Broncos’ 35-32 victory. Fare thee well.


Boise State’s decimated defense should have been totally out of gas in the fourth quarter in Frisco. While North Texas was unable to stop the Broncos in the second half, Boise State was likewise unable to stop the Mean Green—until Jaylen Clark’s interception (and 38-yard return) early in the fourth. That led to an Ashton Jeanty touchdown and a two-possession lead that was crucial. The Broncos would give up another TD and two-point conversion, but they had enough left to force two three-and-outs in the final 3½ minutes to hang on for the win. Clark was playing in place of Kaonohi Kaniho. Alexander Teubner had to fill in for JL Skinner. Rodney Robinson was in for Tyreque Jones. And it was Robinson who got the final pass breakup of the night to seal it.


My trivia question on KTVB’s pregame show Saturday was kind of ironic. The answer was Brock Forsey, who held the Boise State record for most yards rushing in an FBS bowl game—152 against Louisville way back in 1999. By the time the Frisco Bowl was over, Ashton Jeanty had shattered that mark. Jeanty’s 178 yards against North Texas also equaled the most by a Bronco since Alexander Mattison’s consecutive 200-yard nights in 2018. How fitting that Jeanty would be the star of the show along with Taylen Green. Jeanty is the Frisco kid. And he swung the momentum on the first snap of the second half with a 34-yard run. Two plays later, Jeanty had one of the runs of the year, a tackle-breaking, hurdling 19-yard gain to the North Texas two. Ashton Jeanty is certainly the face of the running backs room moving forward.


Will Bush Hamdan hit a home run as the new offensive coordinator at Boise State? It’s too early to tell, of course, but there’s no reason to think this isn’t a good fit. The best coach in Broncos history, Chris Petersen, brought Hamdan aboard on his Washington staff not once, but twice. The second time, he was the Huskies offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the final two seasons of Petersen’s coaching career. One thing that was always impressive about Hamdan was his involvement in the community. For his senior project in the summer of 2008, he organized the Broncos’ first summer softball game between the offense and defense to raise money for the First Tee of Idaho. You can safely say that Hamdan is an “OKG” as Coach Pete used to say, our kind of guy. Now he’s Taylen Green’s professor.

Hamdan certainly paid his dues at Boise State. He was a quarterback for the team from 2005-08, backing up Jared Zabransky for two seasons and Taylor Tharp for one. Then as a senior, Hamdan was beaten out by redshirt freshman Kellen Moore. But he never wavered, as he soaked up football smarts from Coach Pete and alongside Kellen. He’s seen the lows and the highs. In his first college game, Hamdan came on in relief of Zabransky in the 48-13 loss at Georgia in 2005, and on New Year’s Day 2007, he was scheming on the sideline with his fellow backups as Boise State won the Fiesta Bowl with the Statue of Liberty. Hamdan knows the Boise State program, and with stops in the Pac-12, NFL and SEC, we’re going to assume he can coach.


There was a sudden flurry of activity Monday inside the Bleymaier Football Center, as Boise State received four new commitments ahead of today’s early signing day. Three of them were at positions of need: cornerback Gabe Tahir of Kennewick, WA, corner A’Marion McCoy out of Laney College in Oakland, and a safety transfer from Wisconsin: Titus Toler. Then more chaos yesterday, as the Broncos flipped tight end Matt Wagner from, ironically, North Texas, and picked up Colorado tight end Chase Penry from the transfer portal. As the letters begin to roll in this morning Boise State goes in with as many as 24 commits.

It’ll be quite a day for Boise State, with the flips and transfer portal grabs and surprise commits. The transfer that really stands out is Penry. He’s a different kind of transfer portal guy, coming from a program where new coach Deion Sanders almost shoved current Buffaloes players in there. So you’d think Penry’s coming to a place where he feels wanted, and no doubt he’s bringing a sizeable chip on his shoulder. But he actually went into the portal the day before Sanders was hired, so he hadn’t even heard Neon Deion’s infamous speech. It seems like it’s more about winning for Penry. When he tweeted his commitment to the Broncos, he said, “There is something to be said about a program that just wins. I am going to Boise State University! Excited to get to work.” Another target for Taylen Green.


Only one bit of bad news for Boise State: backup quarterback Sam Vidlak, who just came over from Oregon State last summer, has entered the transfer portal. I guess that’s what backup quarterbacks do in this new era. In the first post-Hank Bachmeier game against San Diego State, Vidlak played most of the second quarter. But Green’s star was launched in the second half that night. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Jackson Cravens has hit the portal as a grad transfer. And there was this expected news: JL Skinner has declared for the NFL Draft. Skinner is the only Bronco who looks like a lock to de drafted next spring. He’ll be remembered as one of the hardest hitters in school history. As KTVB’s Jay Tust pointed out on Twitter: No. 0 posted 208 career tackles for the “208.”


It’s funny—the people I was with at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Tuesday talked about San Jose State shooting itself in the foot against Eastern Michigan, and Spartans linebacker Kyle Harmon used that exact analogy in the postgame press conference. SJSU looked like it was going to boatrace the Eagles early, but EMU caught fire with a 41-27 win, its first in a bowl game since beating San Jose State in the California Bowl 35 years ago. The Spartans took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and lined up for the PAT. Then the extra point was blocked, and Eastern Michigan’s Tristen Hines took it 87 yards the other way for a defensive two-point conversion. That changed the mojo of the game, and the Eagles ended up scoring 33 consecutive points. Two Chevan Cordeiro interceptions didn’t help SJSU.


All signs point to former Boise State star Brett Rypien returning to the bench in Denver. Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said as much in his postgame press conference after Rypien led Denver to a 24-16 win over Arizona last Sunday. The Broncos play the L.A. Rams on Christmas Day. “Russell is going to be playing next week, but I thought Brett did a really good job,” Hackett said. Rypien went 21-of-26 for 197 yards and a touchdown with one interception against the Cardinals. His other winning start in the NFL was against the Jets in 2020, a 37-28 Broncos win in which Rypien threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.


Okay, it’s an old joke. The Broncos play the Broncos Thursday afternoon in the South Bay. Both iterations of the Broncos are off to solid starts. The Boise State version is 10-2, and Santa Clara is 11-3, coming off a 71-62 victory last Sunday over Cal. Boise State takes a nine-game winning streak on the trail, during which it has held opponents to less than 56 points per game. And Tyson Degenhart appears to be hitting his stride. The sophomore star put up 17 points in last Sunday’s win over Oakland after two games in single digits. Degenhart hasn’t scored 20 yet, but it’s coming. We’ll be anxious to see if there’s a Marcus Shaver Jr. sighting at Santa Clara. Shaver has missed two of the past three games with an undisclosed injury. He’s still averaging an amazing 7.4 rebounds per game.


The Idaho Steelheads have never had an October…and a November…and a December close to this in their 25-year history. The Steelheads are 20-3-1 after yet another sweep—this one over the Rapid City Rush in Idaho Central Arena last week. There’s more home ice ahead, as the Steelies host the Utah Grizzlies tonight and Friday. The team is talent-rich, especially between the pipes. After Jake Kupsky pulled in ECHL Goaltender of the Week and Month honors earlier in the season, Remi Poirier joined him Tuesday as the league’s new Goaltender of the Week. Poirier won both of his starts with a 1.00 goals-against average and a save percentage of .971 against Rapid City last week.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by BBSI BOISE…payroll, process and prosperity for your business.

December 21, 2000: UNLV upsets Arkansas in the Las Vegas Bowl, 31-14, in a battle between Rebels coach John Robinson and Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt, the former Boise State head man. UNLV surprisingly outrushed Arkansas by 187 yards as the Rebels won their hometown bowl game for the second time. UNLV has been to only one bowl game since, though. The Rebels are hoping two decades of general futility will end with their hiring of new coach Barry Odom (and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino).

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)

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