They vowed not to overlook their immediate opponent, not even with a big nonconference matchup on the horizon.
Mission very much accomplished.
The Boise State Broncos took care of business at Albertsons Stadium against the UConn Huskies, and it was even more of a drubbing than expected. This was dominance of the highest order.
Saturday’s 62-7 rout enthralled the home-opening crowd of 34,515 with a school-record 818 yards of offense and another standout defensive showing.
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“The entire performance was tremendous,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
The No. 20 Broncos (2-0) crushed the Huskies (0-2) even worse than No. 19 UCF, which beat them by 39 in the season opener. UConn didn’t get past its own 40-yard line until its 10th drive of the game and finished with 193 yards of total offense (71 passing). The Huskies had 486 yards against the Knights.
On Sunday, the Broncos moved up to No. 17 in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches’ polls. The win sets up a top 25 showdown Saturday between Boise State and Oklahoma State.
“I think that Boise State is a little bit better and a little bit ahead of Central Florida right now,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “Defensively, I think Boise State is outstanding.”
Almost comically overmatched, UConn committed a false start its first play from scrimmage, something it did on three of its next five drives. Boise State scored on all eight of its drives with the starting offense, outgaining the Huskies 588-78 in the process.
Boise State senior quarterback Brett Rypien was out of the game after just one pass in the third quarter, a 74-yard catch and run by A.J. Richardson that made it 48-0. Rypien threw for 362 yards in the win.
The Broncos tried to be benevolent hosts, but even the backup offense moved the ball, scoring on 80- and 76-yard drives. Boise State’s previous record was 742 yards of offense on Oct. 15, 2011 at Colorado State in the Broncos’ Mountain West debut.
“I loved the way we finished tonight,” Rypien said, adding, “We talked about getting off to a good start in the second half ... that was pretty ideal for me, especially.”
Now, the Broncos’ attention can turn to the game many had circled on the schedule for months, a matchup at Oklahoma State next Saturday in Stillwater, Okla (1:30 p.m., ESPN). The Cowboys won their first two games 113-30 against Missouri State and South Alabama.
“We’re very excited, we’re going to treat it like a regular team, practice hard — that’s where it’s really been paying off. ... We don’t care who the opponent is, we’re going to play like it’s a championship game every time,” said Richardson, who had 100 yards receiving.
As Boise State prepares for the high-octane Oklahoma State offense, some new weapons emerged for the Cowboys to think about on their end.
Three Broncos scored their first career touchdowns against UConn — junior wide receiver John Hightower had two, sophomore tight end John Bates and freshman running back Andrew Van Buren had one apiece.
Hightower, who had two catches for 15 yards in the season opener at Troy, had five catches for 119 yards. He scored on a 67-yard pass and a winding, crowd-rousing 55-yard run. Ten different players caught passes Saturday, and the Broncos’ 400 rushing yards were sixth-most in school history.
“It felt amazing just for our offense to click, to be out there having fun. ... We pride ourselves in executing as much as we can, whether that’s in the run game or in the pass and have explosive plays, and we were able to do that,” said junior running back Alexander Mattison, who had 11 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos averaged 10.5 yards per play, were 6-of-9 on third down, did not turn the ball over, did not allow a sack and scored in all four red zone visits until taking a knee inside the UConn 20 as the game winded down.
“It felt like we would sit down, we would talk and then we’d get right back up because the offense had just put points on the board,” sophomore linebacker Riley Whimpey said.
Perhaps the game will be remembered as part of the argument of who is the best in the Group of Five, or a big step forward for momentum’s sake into a big game, but for now, Saturday’s win was as enjoyable for anyone not on the west sideline as any in recent years.
“We’re not going to take this for granted, we won a big game tonight for us,” Harsin said. “Whatever anybody else thinks about it because of the score, winning is hard ... it was a fun night.”