With Halloween right around the corner, it makes sense Boise State plays at Utah State’s Maverik Stadium on Saturday.
The Aggies’ home field was chock full of nightmares on the Broncos’ last visit in 2015 when the visitors had eight turnovers, their most in 26 years.
As far as we know, the stadium wasn’t built on an ancient burial ground, but it hasn’t been terribly kind to most visitors. Boise State’s brutal night wasn’t the only one. BYU had seven turnovers there Sept. 29.
“That’s a tough place to play,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Their fans are great. They get excited. It’s going to be loud. They always play well at home, and they will play tough against us. … This is going to be a major challenge for our guys.”
When Boise State prepared to host Utah State last year, Harsin wasn’t too keen on reliving the 52-26 loss in Logan the year prior. Perhaps winning 21-10 in 2016 at Albertsons Stadium helped, but returning to the scene of the drubbing is sure to conjure some memories.
“You don’t forget about it,” Harsin said. “Obviously the performance we had was very poor. The energy they had in their stadium, playing in that environment, you don’t forget that. You know what you’re getting into.”
The Broncos also lost two years ago on the road at BYU. They returned to Provo on Oct. 6 and won 24-7. Though players and coaches can try to downplay it sometimes, the Broncos can truly put that debacle behind them with a win Saturday.
“We use any motivation at this point that we can get,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “… We’re in the thick of it, we’re in a battle every single week. We’ve got to expect that, regardless of what happened last time.”
As turnovers played a major role in that game two years ago, it certainly should be the case again this time. The Aggies are tied for No. 2 in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 20 takeaways, while Boise State has not given one up in the last 177 minutes, 56 seconds of game time.
“The road to the championship goes through Boise,” said Utah State coach Matt Wells, who is 20-8 at home. “We’ve got two losses in the league, so I understand where that puts us in the race, but to me, they are who everybody is shooting for in the league. They will absolutely get our best shot.”
BLAKLEY’S, KELEMETE’S SEASONS ARE OVER
Harsin said Monday that junior tight end Chase Blakley is out for the rest of the season after having ankle surgery. True freshman STUD end Aisa Kelemete also will be out of practice as he’ll undergo shoulder surgery.
Blakley appeared in two games this season, getting injured during the Sept. 9 game at Washington State while trying to make a catch. He had one reception for 13 yards against Troy in the season opener. The Coeur d’Alene High grad missed all of 2015 with an injury, so he could get a sixth year of eligibility since he will have played in fewer than 30 percent of this season’s games.
Kelemete, who had an 11th-hour offer from USC before signing day, was redshirting this year. Harsin said he should be able to practice this spring, though likely in a limited capacity.
A REASONABLE NOVEMBER KICKOFF? REALLY!
On Monday, Boise State announced that its next home game, Nov. 4 against Nevada, will have a 5 p.m. start on ESPNU. That is the earliest November kickoff at Albertsons Stadium since Nov. 17, 2012, which was a 1:30 p.m. start.
Boise State has won eight straight at home against Nevada and is 28-13 all-time against the Wolf Pack. In the past, playing at home on ESPNU would not have meant any bonus money for Boise State, but the Mountain West changed the bonus structure this summer. The school now gets a flat payout, which will be approximately $2.9 million a season.
Boise State at Utah State
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Maverik Stadium (25,100; AstroTurf synthetic grass)
TV: CBS Sports Network (Carter Blackburn, Aaron Taylor, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 5-2, 3-0 (beat Wyoming 24-14 last week); Utah State 4-4, 2-2 (beat UNLV 52-28)
Series: Boise State leads 16-5 (Boise State won 21-10 on Oct. 1, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 8
Kickoff weather: Upper 40s, clear