There are many motivations for the Boise State football team to win the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday against Northern Illinois.
Next year is not one of them.
The old adage is that a bowl win can springboard a team into the offseason and benefit it the following season. But a little Boise State history lesson shows the error of that thinking.
Boise State has lost its bowl game or failed to play in one seven times in the past 17 years. The Broncos’ record in the ensuing seasons: 82-11 (88.2 percent), including all three Fiesta Bowl championships.
The Broncos won the Fiesta Bowl after losing the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl to Boston College, the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl to TCU and the 2013 Hawaii Bowl to Oregon State.
The Broncos’ record the season after their 10 bowl wins: 103-24 (81.1 percent), including three eight-win seasons (counting 2015, which could improve). The most successful season after a bowl win was 2004, when the Broncos went 11-0 during the regular season and lost to Louisville in the Liberty Bowl. The Broncos were coming off a 2003 Fort Worth Bowl win against TCU.
Junior safety Chanceller James said next year isn’t on his mind.
“I’m thinking about right now,” he said. “Winning the last game is very, very important for finishing off the season right.”
What is on the line for the Broncos this week:
The team goal, which is the same every year, is to win the Mountain West and a bowl game with class, integrity and academic excellence. They can’t win the conference, but the rest remains within reach.
Thirteen straight Boise State senior classes have won at least 40 games in their careers. The peak was the 2011 senior class that won 50. But the 2015 class is stuck at 39.
The 2016 class also could struggle to hit the standard. That group is 28-11.
“We want to go out with a bang for these seniors,” junior right tackle Mario Yakoo said. “... We’re kind of disappointed in them going out (with a loss) on the Blue, so we want to make sure we get them this win for something special for them.”
The Broncos started the year talking about a potentially dominant defense — and they played that way much of the first two months. They have slipped to 24th in total defense (342.1 yards per game) and 26th in scoring defense (21.3 points per game).
“We had a great first half of the season and then kind of died out a little bit,” junior linebacker Ben Weaver said.
That losing feeling
The disappointment of a loss can drive players in the offseason, but nobody wants that feeling.
“You don’t want to have that in your gut all offseason,” Yakoo said. “It’s a long offseason if you lose ... fighting that loss until we play again.”