Josiah Hall was still 15 years from being born when Men Without Hats produced its lone hit song, “Safety Dance.”
So, when he danced with his hands together above his head following a safety that won last Oct. 29’s 30-28 victory over Boise State, the Wyoming defensive lineman busted a move not like in the song, but something a little different.
The dance may have upset some Bronco fans, but the players seem mostly unaware of its existence. Sure, teams will try to play down any sort of revenge factor, but there is plenty of extra motivation for Boise State on Saturday.
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“That stuff definitely sticks with you, but it’s a new season, new team,” senior tight end Jake Roh said.
That win for Wyoming proved to be the tiebreaker that gave the Cowboys the Mountain Division title at the end of the season. It ended a 7-0 start for the Broncos. It was Wyoming’s first win over Boise State in 11 meetings.
“That ended up defining our season,” sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce said.
Wyoming, coming off a 28-23 win at Utah State, is prepared for Boise State to bring a bit of an edge but also knows that Mountain West teams can knock off the Broncos.
“Sometimes when you go up against an opponent like Boise, there’s some sort of mental block. But understand that we beat them last year and we’re in a good position to do the same thing (again),” Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen said. “... At the same time, it gives them a reason to play even harder. I’m sure they want to get back at us for what we did last year.”
The Cowboys got that elusive win against the Broncos, in the process becoming the fourth team in the division to beat Boise State in 2015 or 2016. Colorado State is the only one that didn’t.
In July at the Mountain West Football Media Summit, Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard said something that many were thinking — rankling some around Boise State.
“I’m not putting them down or anything, but I’ll say it like this: My freshman year, I thought Boise was an unbeatable team. ‘I don’t know if I’m ever going to beat Boise,’ ” he said. “Then we beat Boise, and it was like, ‘Wow, they’re human.’ ”
Pierce, the only player to use the word “revenge” this week, said he’d seen those comments again recently and they would add to the “chip on our shoulder.”
For the Broncos, the matchup also gives them a chance to put together a better showing than their last game at Albertsons Stadium, a 42-23 rout at the hands of Virginia on Sept. 22.
“We’re happy to be back,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... You walk out of the locker room, it says ‘Protect The Blue.’ That means something. We had not a great performance last time we were out here.”
Whatever the motivation may be, Saturday’s game should provide plenty at its most basic level: Wyoming is a team in the Broncos’ division. Losing five times to division foes the last two seasons kept Boise State out of the conference championship game.
“It doesn’t have to be about what happened last year,” Harsin said. “They are a very good football team. We know we didn’t win last year, so our guys, they understand all that.”
The three-overtime loss at Washington State on Sept. 9 the exception, Boise State thus far has done better in 2017 than last season at closing out games in which it’s had a lead. A strong defense and a refreshed running attack have prevented teams from coming back on the Broncos like Wyoming did. That game in particular has stuck out as inspiration to finish the job in competitive contests this year.
“Definitely motivated to get back at somebody we didn’t finish the job against last time,” wide receiver Cedrick Wilson said. “I think we’ll finish all four quarters this time and be victorious at the end.”
Wyoming at Boise State
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf); fans are asked to wear orange in sections 27-30, 101-104, 127-130, North End Zone and Stueckle Sky Club; blue in all other sections
TV: ESPN2 (Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 4-2, 2-0 (beat San Diego State 31-14); Wyoming 4-2, 2-0 (beat Utah State 28-23)
Series: Boise State leads 10-1 (Wyoming won 30-28 on Oct. 29, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 14 1/2
Kickoff weather: Upper 40s, cloudy, 50 percent chance of rain