Tuesday, October 03, 2023

THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Tracking three games at once, and other stuff

| September 25, 2022 1:30 AM

Thoughts during a lonnnnnnnnnng Saturday …

• UTEP 27, Boise State 10.

• Watching the local college football teams play will take a little bit of creativity — with Idaho (on ESPN+), WSU (KAYU) and Eastern Washington (SWX) all playing at 1 p.m. Thank goodness the days of only having 2, 4 and 6 are gone.

• Still can’t get over the dude who sat on the tennis court and set his arm on fire before Roger Federer’s retirement match. Kudos to the worker who used his jacket to put out the fire on the court. Hopefully he got to expense it.

• UTEP 27, Boise State 10.

Bronco fans are in mourning on the internet.

One person on social media suggested Boise State has slipped so low that even Idaho could give the Broncos a run for their money these days. The teams haven’t met since 2011, in part because it’s no longer a competitive matchup. But Idaho says it wouldn’t mind playing Boise again, figuring if the Broncos are going to play an FCS school anyway, might as well be the in-state school to the north. Hopefully that will be a matchup again one of these years — and a competitive one again, at that.

• Early on, Oregon can’t cover all those WSU receivers. Idaho still struggling to stop the run against Northern Arizona. Defense optional in Cheney with Eastern and Montana State, which gave up 68 last week. Tyson Pottenger (Coeur d’Alene High) getting the start at safety for Montana State.

Idaho freezes the kicker, who misses the practice kick. After the timeout, he makes it, and NAU cuts the Vandal lead to 17-10 at the half.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s field-goal-or-bust offense now produces a pick-6 for WSU.

• UTEP 27, Boise State 10.

And Boise State just fired its offensive coordinator.

• Oh, no, Tommy Mellott! I get the added benefit of a running quarterback, but man …

• Sandpoint at Lakeland on Oct. 7 is shaping up as the Game of the Year in North Idaho high school football. After 4A Sandpoint went 3-1 vs. 5A Inland Empire League teams last year, 4A Lakeland went 2-1 vs. the 5A IEL this year.

It won’t be a do-or-die matchup because both teams will be in the state playoffs, but the winner will be assured a top-eight seed, and will host a first-round playoff game, while the loser will be on the road in the first round of the 16-team playoffs.

• Now getting set up at the office.

Idaho has a comfortable 27-10 lead, which you haven’t been able to say much about the Vandals on the road since their return to the Big Sky. Since 2018, Idaho was 2-13 on the road in conference play.

Meanwhile, Oregon is driving, down four field goals (27-15) to Washington State.

• The Mariners aren’t really going to mess up this chance, are they?

• The Vandals finish off their 17-point victory quickly, allowing time to “tune” over to the EWU game, which started at the same time but might not end until early evening. With no SWX in the office, we are treated to the spinning wheel of death as we try to watch the stream on ESPN+.

• You know those readerboards that are more and more prevalent on freeways and highways, providing useful information to motorists?

What about, when there wasn’t an accident ahead to warn us about, or a reminder to pull our boats over for inspection, they could mix in some sports scores and sports headlines?

• Montana State takes the lead late on Eastern, then wraps up the victory with a highlight-reel interception on a deep ball that looked like an even better catch by the EWU receiver. Maybe the ground can’t cause a fumble, but it can result in an interception?

Somehow, Oregon pulls out a game Washington State deserves to win. Where have we seen that before?

• Colson Yankoff starting to get some run at UCLA. The former Coeur d’Alene High quarterback, now a running back for the Bruins, caught two touchdown passes in UCLA’s romp over Colorado in Boulder.

• Damn them Beavs.

It was all set up for Oregon State to upset No. 7 USC on Saturday night in Corvallis. Even scored to take the lead late, but couldn’t stop them on that final drive and let ’em off the hook.

Another disappointing loss for the little guys in the Northwest.

• UTEP 27, Boise State 10.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 208-664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at mnelke@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.

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