The Boise State and Fresno State football teams find themselves in an incredibly rare situation.
On Saturday, the No. 25 Broncos and Bulldogs face off in Fresno. The following Saturday, they’ll do it again in the Mountain West championship game.
This is far different than when Boise State played Washington to end the 2012 season, then opened 2013 with the Huskies. In fact, it appears to be just the second time teams have been in this spot in more than 80 years.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 2012 Pac-12 championship game between UCLA and Stanford was the first time since 1935 two teams met in back-to-back weeks. The Bruins and Cardinal played in the regular-season finale six days earlier, not knowing for sure that they’d meet again. It hasn’t happened since.
Florida and Florida State played twice in 1994 and 1996, at the end of the regular season and then in a bowl. The Seminoles didn’t play anyone in between but the Gators played in the SEC championship game.
“We’re playing Fresno State this week. We’re not even worried about next week. … We’re going in with that mentality,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “It’s not like we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to handle two weeks. We’re just going to handle one week.”
Hill said the Broncos “won’t try to out-think ourselves this week.” In a vacuum, it might make sense to go with a basic playbook, maybe rest some injuries or go to the bench early and often. But, these are football guys, after all.
“I’ve never coached a game in my life you didn’t try to win, and tried to hold back something,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “I could be completely wrong, maybe someone that’s done it, I should reach out to and ask them, ‘Should we hold back certain things that help you win a game?’ I think they would probably hang the phone up.”
Well, there you have it. Expect the Broncos to play Saturday’s game and the game that will settle the team’s biggest goal, the championship game, the same way.
Perhaps there may be a perk in it, too. What takes place this week can be fresh in the minds of coaches as they adjust for the next week against the same team.
“It’s going to be cat and mouse, because I’m sure they’ll be doing the same thing,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “It’s a unique situation.”
What probably will be different when the teams face off a second time is the venue. The Broncos are well ahead of the Bulldogs in the computer rankings used by the conference to determine home-field advantage if neither team is ranked. Even Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford sees it that way.
“We anticipate going to Boise,” he said Monday.
CFP RANKINGS COMING TUESDAY
Last week, Boise State made its first appearance of the year in the College Football Playoff rankings, checking in at No. 25. Expect to see the Broncos again when they are updated at 5 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN. Two teams ranked closely ahead of the Broncos lost Saturday: North Carolina State (No. 19) and Michigan (No. 24).
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN COMMITS
Boise State picked up a verbal commitment for the 2018 class from offensive lineman Garrett Curran on Monday, shortly after returning from his official visit to Washington State.
Curran (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) hails from Granite Hills (Calif.) High just outside San Diego. A tackle for the Eagles, Curran also claimed offers from Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado State, Air Force, Utah State and Navy, among others. He is the second known offensive lineman to commit in the class, joining center Kekaniokoa Gonzalez.
No. 25 Boise State at Fresno State
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bulldog Stadium (41,031, FieldTurf)
TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, Jay Feely, Jenny Dell)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 9-2, 7-0 (beat Air Force 44-19 last week); Fresno State 8-3, 6-1 (beat Wyoming 13-7 last week)
Series: Boise State leads 13-5 (Broncos won 28-14 in Boise on Dec. 6, 2014, in last meeting)
Vegas line: Boise State by 7
Kickoff weather: Low 70s, partly cloudy