The Front Row with Mark Nelke, November 7, 2010
This week, with one of the hottest teams in the NFL enjoying a bye (the 49ers have managed to NOT lose two of their last three games), we turn our attention to that game in Moscow on Friday night that you may have heard about.
As I predicted last year in this space, ESPN (in this case, ESPN2) has picked up the Boise State-Idaho football game, and will televise it from the Kibbie Dome on Friday at 6 p.m. As it turned out, that prediction wasn't exactly going out on a limb - not like the (half) prediction that will appear below.
Other than BSU's game at Nevada the day after Thanksgiving, the game at Idaho might be the biggest obstacle between the Broncos and a perfect regular season and - depending on how many other top teams step on a landmine the rest of the way - a possible berth in the BCS championship game.
THERE'S NOTHING mystical about Boise State's success - the Broncos have playmakers at quarterback, receiver, running back and on defense. This just in - they're pretty good.
They can score from anywhere on the field, on any play. For the other team, it's like trying to plug a dike with your fingers - you think you've got the leak stopped when another leak springs. Before you know it, you have a flood.
Even when the Broncos "struggle," they still win fairly easily. I'm sure Louisiana Tech thought it played the Broncos pretty well in Boise a few weeks back - and still lost by 29 points.
(Of course, if Virginia Tech had called a better play on third and 8 instead of blindly heaving the ball down the sideline late in the season opener and hoping something good happened, we wouldn't be talking about Boise State in a BCS game anyway.)
THIS YEAR'S game takes on special meaning, of course, with Boise State leaving after this school year to join what's left of the Mountain West Conference.
Their fans are happy to leave the Vandals behind (at least until Idaho catches up with them again a few years down the road), and their coach and president have said they hope they never have to play in Moscow again.
Not sure if that's because Idaho's stadium is half the size of Boise State's, or if the Broncos feel they don't need to deal with what president Bob Kustra termed "nasty, inebriated" fans in Moscow.
Either way, with the two teams not scheduled to play each other in 2011 and 2012, and who knows if, when or where they will ever play again - Idaho supporters would love give the Broncos an "L" of a sendoff gift.
The chance of that happening is a longshot, but - given this year's wild world of college football - it is at least a shot.
My prediction is that either one of two things will happen Friday night - either the Vandals will play the game of their lives, play error-free football and shock the Broncos, or the Vandals commit a few turnovers, Boise State turns them into quick scores and goes on to win easily.
Either way, it's up to Idaho.
Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.