Boise State football fan Mike Mers booked his airline tickets for Fridays season opener at Michigan State a few days before the NFL Draft.
When former Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions that weekend and the preseason schedule showed theyd be home this week Mers scrambled to find his itinerary.
I think we might get in in time for that, he thought.
He and his 13-year-old son, Bryce, land in Detroit about 3 hours before Moore and the Lions face the Buffalo Bills at 5 p.m. MDT Thursday in their exhibition finale.
The Merses will go straight to Ford Field to watch Moore, then travel to East Lansing to watch the No. 24 Broncos battle the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans on Friday (6 p.m. MDT, ESPN).
Were excited to go root (Moore) on, Mers said, and it sounds like were not the only ones.
Not even close.
Boise State fans in Idaho and Michigan have pounced on the scheduling fluke, creating a unique 28-hour itinerary. The school sold about 3,000 tickets to the Michigan State game.
Some of us are a little nervous for the new era, but were all really excited, said Dan Lema of Meridian, whose group doing the Moore-Broncos doubleheader includes seven people from three states. Most of us are bouncing off the walls for this week.
Moore is the No. 3 quarterback for the Lions and will find out Friday if he makes the final roster. The team could keep two quarterbacks and place him on the practice squad.
He likely will get his most extensive playing time yet perhaps more than a half as the team rests starters for next weeks season opener. Moore is 24-of-48 for 223 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in three preseason games.
Score some touchdowns, he said of what he needs to do. Thats all were worrying about. For some of us guys who traditionally have been going in later in the game, it will be nice to kind of get in a groove.
Moore says he has become more comfortable each week. One look at the stands the orange shirts will be difficult to miss should increase that feeling Thursday.
The Varsity B club has assembled a group of about 30 fans for the Lions game. Moores family also will have a strong presence at both games because his brother, Kirby, is a starting wide receiver for Boise State.
Its a good opportunity for everyone to cash in and get a little two-for-one deal in Michigan, said Kellen Moore, who plans to attend the Boise State game.
Joel York of West Bloomfield, Mich., already has seen Moore play once, in the preseason opener against the Browns. The Boise State graduate moved from Utah to Michigan for work about eight months ago.
This weekend was on his mind during the decision-making process long before Moore landed in Detroit. York attended all but one Broncos game last year but wont see them much this year.
He has recruited a family member and a couple of Michigan fans to attend both games with him.
Im not going to lie, it was a good convincer for me to move, he said of the Boise State-Michigan State game. I thought it was a sign from God that I should move out here.
Ben Fisher of Detroit followed a similar path. The Kuna native transferred from Utah to Michigan about a year ago.
Hell be at both games with his wife and their 8-month-old son. Like York, the Fishers have recruited some friends and a family member to join them.
When we moved out here, it was actually the second thing we thought about, Fisher said. Great, weve got a job. And great, we can see the Broncos. Weve been planning ever since (the draft). Its Kellen Thursday and now Joe Southwick Friday.
The Boise State and Michigan State defenses were in nearly identical situations this week while preparing for the opposing quarterback.
Boise States Southwick and Michigan States Andrew Maxwell are juniors who havent seen any significant playing time outside of mop-up duty.
Both staffs watched every snap the quarterbacks took last year Southwick was 23-of-30 passing, Maxwell was 18-of-26.
What did they learn?
When youre handing the ball off? Not much, Boise State defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.
Many Broncos will get their first turn in the spotlight Friday night.
Inevitably, coach Chris Petersen said, some will shine and some will struggle.
You havent seen them respond there, he said. You havent had a chance to see them grow throughout the year. Thats all in the future. And so a lot of kids really answer those challenges appropriately in a great way and some guys dont. Those are the questions well be sorting out as we work through this year.
We talk till were blue in the face about different situations that were going to get ourselves in throughout the year, and this is one of them right out of the gate. Im very curious to see if any of the things that we talk about have sunk in.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has studied the Broncos since February and provided an A to Z report to his team. His message: Its not what the Broncos do, but how they do it, that makes them so difficult to beat.
They play extremely hard and they play with a lot of aggression, Dantonio said. How hard they play, the toughness they play with and the execution thats what makes you good.
Michigan State owns the nations fourth-longest home winning streak at 14 games seven wins in each of the past two seasons. Thats the first pair of undefeated home seasons for the school since 1955-56.
The Sporting News ranked Spartan Stadium third on its Five Toughest Places to Play Right Now list this year.
The atmosphere is crazy, senior right tackle Fou Fonoti said. It truly feels like family. You feel the love and the support. We feed off the enthusiasm.
This will be the 12th night game in the 89-year history of Spartan Stadium. The Spartans are 7-4 under the lights, including recent last-play wins on a fake field goal (Notre Dame, 2010) and a Hail Mary (Wisconsin, 2011). Boise State receives $1.2 million for playing this game. Petersen is 8-1 vs. BCS-conference teams, including six straight wins. The Broncos left for Michigan on Wednesday evening.
Chadd Cripe is in his 11th season covering Boise State football for the Idaho Statesman. He also is a voter in The Associated Press Top 25. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 377-6398. His Twitter account is @IDS_BroncoBeat.