They don’t like it, and it is not a thought the Boise State Broncos were eager to ponder Saturday night, but they’ve been in this position before.
An upset-minded opponent knocks the Broncos from atop the Mountain West, and any hope for a conference championship appearance is out of their hands, for the time being. It happened when they lost at Air Force in 2014. It happened last year at Utah State.
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Only in the first instance did Boise State wind up in the Mountain West championship. But as devastating as the 30-28 loss to Wyoming was, it isn’t exactly a death knell for the season.
“You always want to have the control in your hands, the ball in your hands, and it’s not anymore for us, so all we can do is focus on ourselves,” senior linebacker Ben Weaver said, “... doing all we can to win this next game and continue to win.”
As the Broncos wonder, “What now?” thoughts for those off the field turn to, “What if?”
If Boise State (7-1, 3-1 MW) wants to win the Mountain Division, it needs Wyoming to lose at least once more in its final four games while the Broncos run the table. Should both teams wind up tied atop the division, Wyoming gets the championship berth since it beat Boise State head-to-head. If Boise State, Wyoming and New Mexico win out, and New Mexico beats Wyoming on Nov. 26 in the regular season finale, it would create a three-way tie among one-loss teams in the division, but all would be 1-1 against each other.
Mountain West tiebreakers would then go all the way to the fifth criterion, the team with the highest College Football Playoff ranking.
Then, of course, if they got in, the Broncos would need to beat the West Division opponent, likely San Diego State, and hope Western Michigan stumbles to have a shot at the Group of Five’s automatic berth into the Cotton Bowl.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
The first step in rebounding from a loss for the first time this season comes at 8:15 p.m. Friday against San Jose State (3-6, 2-3) at Albertsons Stadium.
“Since coach (Bryan) Harsin has been here, it’s that 1-0 mentality,” Weaver said. “When you get up and you’re 7-0 and you have all that pressure, if you look too broad, then you’ll lose. I don’t think we did that for this (Wyoming) game.”
The initial CFP rankings will be announced at 5 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN. Boise State could make an appearance, as the Broncos are ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press and coaches polls released Sunday, a drop of 11 spots in both. Western Michigan, from the MAC, is 17th in the AP poll. San Diego State is third among teams receiving votes outside the top 25, and Wyoming is eighth.
QUICK HITS: The Broncos are 4-4 in their past eight games against Mountain Division teams, with losses to Wyoming, Air Force, New Mexico and Utah State. ... Wyoming’s win against Boise State was its first in 11 games between the schools. ... Boise State freshman running back Alexander Mattison’s four carries for 40 yards were his most since the season opener Sept. 3, and his 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was his first since that game. ... Senior safety Chanceller James’ interception (the second of his career) in the first quarter was the Broncos’ first takeaway since Oct. 7. The offense turned it into a touchdown, making it the first points scored off a turnover since Sept. 24. ... Wyoming was not called for a penalty Saturday, while Boise State was flagged four times for 24 yards.