Boise State Football

Revitalized offense, ‘great defense’ push Boise State to a rare home blowout

Best of Bryan Harsin after Nevada game

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin talks about creamsicle uniforms, Brett Rypien’s catch and the Mountain West race.
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Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin talks about creamsicle uniforms, Brett Rypien’s catch and the Mountain West race.

Here’s a sentence Boise State football fans hardly ever imagined they would hear: It turns out the Broncos can play great at home, too.

Strange, but true, considering the absolute dominance with which the team played on the Blue over the years, but recently, games have been a little closer than most would hope.

But not on Saturday. The Broncos’ suddenly hot offense continued to roll in a 41-14 rout of the Nevada Wolf Pack at Albertsons Stadium for Boise State’s fifth straight win.

“I thought tonight they attacked being at home,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s part of where we are as a team.”

Playing well on the road has become a point of pride for Boise State (7-2, 5-0 Mountain West), but home victories have tended to leave some questions.

Coming into Saturday, the Broncos had covered the point spread just once, by a half-point, in their previous 13 home games. They were 21-point favorites against the Wolf Pack (1-8, 1-4). It was Boise State’s first home win by 21 or more since Oct. 3, 2015.

“We’ve got to realize when we come on the Blue, you take it for granted sometimes because we’ve had such a good home record here,” Boise State junior quarterback Brett Rypien said. “… It felt really good to go out there and put up a lot of points for our home fans.”

Harsin said “it wasn’t really about being home or away, it was about consistency.”

Well, how’s this for consistency? The Broncos won by the exact same score, 41-14, in their previous game at Utah State. That game also seemed to be a game in which the offense turned a corner. The momentum carried over against Nevada with 31 first-half points.

It was pretty close to a vintage home performance: a season-best 479 yards of offense on the Blue, and once again, no turnovers. Both quarterbacks caught passes. Four players scored touchdowns, 11 players caught passes. The Broncos didn’t punt until 6 minutes remained.

“It’s a testament to the talent we have on this team. We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things,” senior tight end Jake Roh said. “That’s part of what this Boise State offense has always been about — that creativity, that funk stuff. When everything’s working, you’re able to get to that stuff.”

Trying to keep pace was Nevada’s Air Raid offense, which had proven to be potent in the three games prior to Saturday and scored on two of the first three drives.

Nevada led 14-10 early in the second quarter, but Rypien’s 44-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson put the Broncos ahead for good and kicked off a run of 31 unanswered points. Nevada produced 302 total yards, but just 88 in the second half.

“That’s a great defense we just played today,” Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett said. “They made their adjustments and they started making big plays. That’s what happens when you’re playing a championship-caliber team. All the credit goes to them and what they were doing.”

Quarterback Ty Gangi was intercepted by Boise State safety Kekoa Nawahine, STUD end Curtis Weaver and cornerback Tyler Horton after entering the game having gone 77 passes without being picked off.

The Broncos' Brett Rypien, DeAndre Pierce, Kekoa Nawahine and Jake Roh discuss the Broncos' 41-14 win over Nevada on Nov. 4, 2017. Courtesy Boise State Athletics.

Wolf Pack running back Kelton Moore — whose name perked up an ear or two — rushed for 106 yards, becoming the first back to go over the century mark against the Broncos this season.

“They came out firing,” sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce said. “Coaches got on us on the sideline, we went through a couple adjustments, and since then, we were able to play lights out. … We knew the quarterback was going to throw us a couple, it was just up to us to make those plays.”

It truly was a balanced effort for the Broncos, as no receiver or rusher went over 80 yards, and Rypien’s 258 yards passing was tops. Pierce had a game-high 10 tackles, while four defenders had tackles for loss.

Boise State is riding high entering the final three weeks of the regular season, and the Broncos need to win twice to clinch the Mountain Division. A win next Saturday at Colorado State would go a long way toward reaching a goal that hasn’t been achieved since 2014.

“If you look ahead and slip up and lose, no one cares what you did prior to that,” Roh said.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn