Two years ago, when the Boise State and BYU football teams began a 12-year series that promises to turn into a regional rivalry, both programs’ coaches said the series was too long.
"That's a lot of years strung together," then-Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "That's like they're in your league, and they're not in our league."
His good friend, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, agreed at the time.
"I would probably say the same,” Mendenhall said in 2012. “How do you know after four (games) what is going to happen or who is going to be where? So I think it's probably too much."
Now, as the teams prepare for year three of the deal Friday night at Albertsons Stadium (7:01 p.m., ESPN), the story is much different.
First-year Boise State coach Bryan Harsin likes the series.
“It makes a whole lot of sense that we play, it really does,” Harsin said. “You’ve got two good football teams. I think the fan base for both and the proximity and all that is strong. To me, it makes sense. Playing here against BYU, that’s always a great atmosphere.”
And Mendenhall has changed his stance.
“I was joking with Chris Petersen as soon as he signed the deal and left for Washington (that he wouldn't be playing BYU as much),” Mendenhall said. “I think it is good. It is a great regional matchup — two teams with high profiles, a lot of fan following. For us, we are always looking to find good games, and over time, and teams that will come to Provo.
“I think it makes sense. Again, whether 12 years or not (doesn’t matter). Whether that even happens, the way contracts go now, but I think both schools jumped at the chance for a regional matchup.”
Boise State and BYU first played in 2003-04. Boise State won 50-12 in 2003 in Provo in front of 60,554 fans — the largest crowd for a Boise State game that year. The Broncos won again 28-27 in 2004 in Boise in front of 30,601 fans, an above-capacity crowd.
The Broncos opened the new series with a 7-6 win in 2012 in Boise with a crowd of 36,864 — still the Albertsons Stadium record.
BYU came back with a 37-20 win last year in Provo with a crowd of 62,954, about 500 short of capacity. The only BYU opponents who drew larger crowds last year were Texas and Utah.
The games also have proven popular with ESPN. The teams will have met on two Thursdays and three Fridays, all on ESPN, by the end of this week.
Next year’s game is scheduled for Sept. 12 in Provo, although it wouldn’t be a surprise if ESPN moves the game to Sept. 10 or 11. The next game in Boise is Oct. 15, 2016.
Boise State junior cornerback Donte Deayon was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Deayon recorded his fourth interception of the season, first career sack and eight tackles in the 37-27 win over Fresno State. It was Boise State’s first defensive weekly honor in almost exactly a year (Oct. 21, 2013) and the first of Deayon’s career.
The other Mountain West honorees were San Jose State quarterback Joe Gray (33-45, 322 yards, two TDs vs. Wyoming) and Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts (3-4 field goals, including 46-yard game-winner).
BYU at Boise State
When: 7:01 p.m. Friday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387 , FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN (Dave Flemming, David Diaz-Infante, Allison Williams)
Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 5-2 overall, 3-1 Mountain West; BYU is 4-3.
Series: Boise State leads 3-1 (BYU won 37-20 last year in Provo, Utah)
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