Boise State football coach Chris Petersen knows there will be some divided loyalties at Bronco Stadium when the Broncos host BYU, but hes hopeful the home fans will be plenty loud enough.
A record crowd of more than 37,000 is expected for the Broncos most-anticipated home game of the season.
I hope theyre our fans, all our fans, he said. I know theyve got a lot of fans around here. Make sure we check the colors when we let them into the stadium.
Some will certainly be wearing a darker shade of blue and rooting for the visitors. BYU, owned and operated by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a strong following in Idaho, where nearly a quarter of the population is Mormon. BYU received 1,800 tickets.
Senior guard Michael Ames, who served a two-year LDS mission before his Boise State career, said hes not sure what team his in-laws are rooting for.
Im hoping theyre going for Boise State, but you never know, said Ames, whose wifes parents and sister all graduated from BYU. For the most part, theres a lot of LDS Boise State fans that are really good to us, really loyal.
Such loyalties have not really been tested in the past. Despite their close proximity, the two schools played just twice. Boise State won both games, including a 28-27 decision in 2004, their last meeting.
That will change.
Thursdays game marks the first in a 12-year series between the programs.
Petersen issued a public call for noise Monday. The previous Bronco Stadium attendance record is 34,196, set last year against Air Force.
I know how important the crowd is, and Im being 100 percent serious. Crowd noise, like Ive said forever, is very difficult to deal with, Petersen said. If we can have our people as loud as theyve ever been, I promise you it will help us.
The Broncos havent needed much help, going 75-3 at home since 2000, the best winning percentage in the nation. BYU quarterback Riley Nelson, who started for Utah State at Boise State in 2006, knows it will be loud.
The intensity of the crowd and the environment there was something that impacted me, he said. You love playing in environments like that even if they are against you.