Following Boise State’s 41-14 win over Nevada on Saturday, football coach Bryan Harsin said a simple sentence that carried a lot of meaning: “We’ve been here before.”
The last two seasons, the Broncos have been in November in a similar situation, with the Mountain Division in their sights. But in 2015 they lost twice at home to division foes, and last year they still had a shot before losing the season finale.
“It re-emphasizes (the need for focus) ... we’ve always tried to get it done, I’m not saying we’ve always gotten it done,” Harsin said. “If they start paying attention to all these other factors, because everyone wants to speculate on what could be, then we’ll get caught up in it and we won’t play well.”
Now, the path is easy: Boise State just needs to win two of its last three games. Saturday’s matchup at Colorado State looked like a de facto division championship, but the Rams have lost two in a row after winning by a total of five points against New Mexico and Nevada.
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Still, it will be a game that carries a lot of weight. Colorado State would be eliminated from contention with a loss, and it remains the only team in the division never to beat Boise State.
“Coach (Mike) Bobo has the guys motivated every game, I don’t think it has to be a Boise State that’s rolling in there,” Harsin said. “... I know our guys are looking forward to it. We like being on the road.”
Harsin was a little fired up Monday talking about the potential pressure of these late-season games, ones that have escaped the Broncos’ grasp the last two years. He said the mentality of “let’s just jump to the end” is pointless, adding that the team hasn’t done anything yet.
But having won five games in a row will get hopes up for most outside the Bleymaier Football Center. Inside of it, there’s a yeoman’s mantra of less fun topics like focus, process and consistency.
“That’s the key. That’s where this team has done their best work, when they stay focused,” Harsin said. “... If we want to start believing all the hype, listening to things, getting on social media, retweeting stats and things like that about ourselves, what does that do? That does nothing.”
Even if one team’s momentum is trending upward, and another has gone the other way, this will be a major test for the Broncos.
Harsin said when he was the offensive coordinator at Texas and Bobo was at Georgia, they attended each other’s practices one spring. Harsin has maintained an appreciation for Bobo’s offenses. Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said the Rams have the most balanced offense the Broncos have faced. The Rams are 16th nationally in total offense (26th in passing, 36th in rushing).
Expect the Rams to have plenty of motivation, and make no mistake, they are eager for a shot at Boise State. Bobo mentioned the zero wins against the Broncos in six tries at his news conference Monday.
“We don’t control our destiny anymore. ... What we control is how we get ready for this game,” Bobo said. “We’re playing a team that right now is arguably the best team in the conference.”
THANKSGIVING’S GONNA BE AWKWARD
Boise State junior defensive end Durrant Miles left the game after the first play Saturday, getting accidentally poked in the right eye while trying to rush Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi. The blocker who did it was offensive tackle Austin Corbett, who is married to Miles’ wife’s cousin.
Harsin did not update any injuries, saying none that happened in the game or David Moa’s ankle (which caused him to miss the Nevada game) are serious enough to deem anyone out.
TWO RECEIVER RECRUITS COMMIT
Boise State picked up two wide receiver commitments in about 12 hours Sunday night and Monday morning in Redlands (Calif.) East Valley High receiver Billy Bowens and Vista Murrieta (Calif.) High’s Khalil Shakir.
Bowens (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) has 36 catches for 769 yards (21.4 yards per reception) and has 10 touchdowns this season. Shakir (6-0, 180) had five Pac-12 offers and is the only Boise State commitment thus far ranked in the top 500 nationally by 247Sports.com, at 462nd.
The Broncos have four wide receiver commits for the 2018 class, picking up all of them in the last two weeks.
AIR FORCE GAME GETS LATE KICK
The Broncos will face Air Force at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 18, televised on ESPN2, the school announced Monday.
Only Oct. 21’s home game against Wyoming had a kickoff later than 6 p.m. this season previously. Coming into the year, 17 of the previous 21 games played at home started at 7:30 p.m. or later.
That game against the Cowboys last month was the the highest-attended game of the season with 35,565. The other four games have averaged 31,193. Boise State has lost three straight games against Air Force. Should the Broncos win Saturday at Colorado State, they would clinch the Mountain Division with a win against the Falcons in the home finale.
Boise State at Colorado State
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: CSU Stadium (36,500, FieldTurf)
TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, David Diehl, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 7-2, 5-0 (beat Nevada 41-14 last week); Colorado State 6-4, 4-2 (lost to Wyoming 16-13)
Series: Boise State leads 6-0 (Broncos won 28-23 in Boise on Oct. 15, 2016, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 5 1/2
Kickoff weather: Mid-30s, clear