Eleven years ago, a rivalry was born when an up-and-coming Boise State team with a first-year coach walked into Bulldog Stadium and stunned nationally ranked Fresno State.
On Saturday, the rivalry will end at least for now when an up-and-coming Fresno State team with a first-year coach walks into Bronco Stadium with similar intentions.
The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West), who fell flat toward the end of coach Pat Hills tenure, have shown a renewed vigor in 2012 under coach Tim DeRuyter.
The new spread offense scores 39.5 points per game. The aggressive, 3-4 defense leads the nation with 18 takeaways and ranks ninth with 20 sacks. Together, those units will try to produce the Bulldogs first conference win at Bronco Stadium in a critical game in the Mountain West championship race.
It definitely could decide the Mountain West, Bulldogs safety Phillip Thomas told The Fresno Bee. There are other teams still out there that could decide things weve got to play each game one at a time. But this ones big.
The Broncos (4-1, 1-0) have dominated the rivalry the winner gets the Milk Can ever since that 2001 game, when they rallied to upset the then-No. 8 Bulldogs 35-30.
Boise State has won 10 of the past 11 meetings, losing in 2005 in Fresno.
Theres a new energy, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said of the Bulldogs, who lost to the Broncos 57-7 last year in Fresno and 51-0 two years ago in Boise. This is one of those games thats going to be a slugfest.
DeRuyter formerly served as a defensive coordinator at Air Force and Texas A&M. The Bulldogs rank 31st in total defense (338.5 yards per game) and 21st in pass-efficiency defense (107.19). Opposing quarterbacks have thrown eight touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
On offense, theyre 14th in passing (315.5 yards per game), 20th in yards (493.8 per game) and 19th in scoring.
DeRuyter knows the Bulldogs ugly history against the Broncos. He says it isnt relevant.
Sure, theyve had our number the past few years, but theyve never beaten the 2012 Bulldogs and thats who theyre getting ready to play this team, not the past teams, he told the Bee. While were not coming close to playing perfectly, were playing with enough swagger that I think we can play with people and thats the key when you get into big matchups like this.
MITCH BURROUGHS OUT
Boise State starting wide receiver Mitch Burroughs will be out for a while with a wrist injury, Petersen said. There was no timetable for his return at the time of Petersens press conference Monday.
Burroughs was injured when he fell to the ground after leaping for a pass in Saturdays game at Southern Miss.
He is third on the team with 12 catches for 124 yards. He also is the co-punt returner and co-kickoff returner. He was the Mountain West preseason special teams player of the year.
We just miss him as an all-around player, Petersen said. A senior who is all about the team, who does everything right on and off the field, who just wants to play and do whatever he can do and you really trust him because he knows our stuff inside and out.
Senior wide receiver Chris Potter, who leads the team with three TD catches, is listed as the starter at Burroughs position this week. Potter also will handle the majority of punt returns. Sophomore Dallas Burroughs and junior Geraldo Boldewijn will help fill the void in the pass game. Dallas Burroughs is listed as the co-kickoff returner.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr has tossed 18 touchdown passes, tied for the second-most in the nation (West Virginias Geno Smith, 24).
Boise State has allowed one touchdown pass, tied with Oklahoma for the fewest in the nation. The TD pass against the Broncos was thrown by a Miami (Ohio) running back.
Fresno State has won the turnover battle against Boise State once since 2001 in that 2005 victory.
Boise State is tied for fifth in turnover margin (plus-10 in five games). Fresno State is 11th (plus-10 in six games).
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat