Sure, the Boise State football team would love a little revenge Saturday against Utah State as the Broncos try to exorcise demons lingering from last year’s frightening 52-26 loss in Logan.
But a win would also mean one step toward the most critical goal: winning the Mountain West.
The Broncos have played in the conference championship game once since it was established in 2013. The senior class, which played in the game in 2014, is hoping for another shot, especially after going 5-3 in MW play in 2015.
“This is where everything really matters. This is part of our goal, to get to the championship,” guard Travis Averill said. “So this week is very important. We need to get through this team to reach our goal.”
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What awaits the Broncos, however, might not be as frightening as last year’s Utah State game.
The Mountain West is 21-21 in nonconference games this season, with a 10-21 record against FBS schools. Boise State and San Diego State have five of those wins, including the conference’s only three victories against Power 5 teams.
Last year, the conference went 8-29 against the FBS, at one point losing 21 straight, and like this year, Boise State had two of its three Power 5 wins. So it could be worse, but the dropoff is significant as the Mountain West was 17-24 against the FBS in 2014.
“There’s so many things that go on week to week, I couldn’t even tell you who they played,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We know what they’re capable of doing. Whatever their struggles might’ve been, but certainly they’re going to figure out answers before they get to play the Broncos, and that’s really all we assume and get to think about.”
WALE OFF TO A STRONG START
Punters don’t get enough love, so it was a little unexpected when senior Sean Wale received a pair of honors this week.
On Monday, he was named Mountain West special teams player of the week after averaging 45.6 yards on six punts at Oregon State on Saturday, the first Boise State punter to earn the honor since joining the conference. He was named one of 156 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy on Wednesday, an award that honors the top senior football scholar-athlete across all divisions of college football.
“It’s a great honor. We’re one of the better conferences in the country for punters,” Wale said. “I was a little bit surprised. To get recognized for (academics) is really cool to see.”
Wale is averaging 44.0 yards per punt on 13 attempts, tied for 25th nationally, with three kicks of 50 yards or more. He averaged 42.0 yards the last two seasons. His career average of 42.25 is fourth in school history.
“Kicking with confidence, being it’s my fourth year of playing now, just going out there, kind of being relaxed and not having the nerves I maybe used to have, trusting the 10 guys in front of me,” Wale said.
MILES GETS ANOTHER SHOT
Junior safety Kameron Miles arrived at Boise State in January of 2015 from Butler (Kan.) Community College as one of the Broncos’ most highly-touted recruits. Scout.com ranked him as the nation’s No. 10 safety coming out of high school, and he redshirted at Texas A&M in 2013.
Last season, he made six starts, picking up 25 tackles and two forced fumbles.
This season, he’s been quiet. Miles planned to play outside linebacker/nickel, but junior Blake Whitlock’s emergence and safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner’s suspension led him back to safety. Miles did not play the first two games, but appeared on special teams at Oregon State. With redshirt freshman safety Evan Tyler out for the season (ACL), Miles has a chance to be a defensive contributor.
“He’s done some things on special teams, but with Evan being out, he’s going to get another opportunity to step in there. ... You’ll probably see more of him this week,’’ Harsin said.
FORMER BSU PASSERS MAKING IMPACT
A pair of quarterbacks are playing at other FBS schools, each finding some success this season.
Ryan Finley, a redshirt sophomore at North Carolina State after leaving BSU in the spring, is ranked No. 12 in the nation in passing efficiency (176.0), completing 61-of-80 passes for 714 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions for the 2-1 Wolfpack.
Nick Patti, a redshirt senior at Central Florida, left after the 2013 season and has played quarterback and receiver for the Knights. A backup quarterback, he has rushed 11 times for 47 yards with a touchdown and is 12-of-23 passing for 137 yards.
Utah State’s second-leading receiver, freshman Rayshad Lewis (12 catches, 185 yards), is the son of former NFL star and 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis. ... Utah State cornerbacks coach Julius Brown is a former Boise State player and was the Broncos’ defensive backs coach in 2014 and 2015 before being let go in January. ... Three Idahoans are on the Aggies’ roster: senior cornerback Austin Cheney (Borah High), freshman linebacker Logan Lee (Madison) and sophomore defensive end Jake Templeton (Timberline). Templeton, a walk-on, transferred last year from Boise State. ... Boise State senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck, with 100 yards Saturday, would be the first Broncos receiver to have four straight 100-yard games. ... Sophomore nose tackle David Moa has four sacks, but he said he needs some sort of celebration, joking “I don’t know what to do, I’ll figure out something.” ... Boise State is one of five teams in the FBS yet to trail this season, along with San Diego State, Miami (Fla.), Memphis and Louisville.
Utah State at No. 24 Boise state
- When: 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday
- Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
- TV: ESPN2 (Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey, Alex Corddry)
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
- Records: Boise State 3-0 (0-0 Mountain West); Utah State 2-2 (0-1 Mountain West)
- Kickoff weather: Low 60s and clear, light winds
- Vegas line: Boise State is favored by 21 points
- Series: Boise State leads 15-5
- Tickets: BSU reported Thursday afternoon that 1,400 tickets remained. Student tickets sold out Tuesday. Tickets are available at the Boise State ticket office, online at broncosports.com/tickets or via phone at 208-426-4737.