The Boise State football team earned its most significant win on a national level in nearly three full seasons Saturday afternoon at Sam Boyd Stadium — and set up the program for a return to national prominence in 2018.
The No. 25 Broncos beat the Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12 38-28. The Broncos improved to 3-0 against the Ducks all-time and 4-0 in the Las Vegas Bowl, all against teams that now are in the Pac-12.
The Broncos jumped out to a dazzling 24-0 start, survived a meltdown of two Oregon defensive touchdowns in the final minute of the first half, responded with a touchdown to open the second half, went quiet for a while and made big plays to close out the win in the closing minutes.
“It was a total team dominating performance,” Boise State junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said.
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The win was the Broncos’ first that will generate national buzz since beating Washington and former coach Chris Petersen in the 2015 season opener. The Broncos are 11-3 with Mountain West and bowl championships.
The victory guarantees that Boise State will finish this season in the Top 25 — a first since the 2014 Fiesta Bowl season. And the Broncos should begin next season inside the Top 25, opening all kinds of possibilities.
The Broncos open next season at Troy, then play at home against Connecticut. Wins in those two would set up a showdown at Oklahoma State with potential to be a high-profile regular-season game right out of the 2008-11 era.
The Broncos will return QB Brett Rypien and possibly Vander Esch, a junior whose draft stock is rising with every incredible effort. The young defense, which coordinator Andy Avalos has crafted into an outstanding unit, should be loaded. And the offense will be better than we thought a couple months ago thanks to improved performances at wide receiver, running back and offensive line.
Jeff Misner: BSU was pretty young this season. The O-line will be great next season. Sad to see Roh, Wolpin, Wilson, and Cozart go. Hopefully Vander Esch sticks around.
This post will be updated.
Bryan Harsin at Boise State
Here’s how the Boise State football team has fared in four seasons under coach Bryan Harsin:
Fiesta: Beat Arizona 38-30
Poinsettia: Beat NIU 55-7
Cactus: Lost to Baylor 31-12
Las Vegas: Beat Oregon