Boise State Football

Boise State, Fresno State will meet again for Mountain West football title

Watch Boise State’s game-clinching touchdown vs. Utah State

Boise State junior tailback Alexander Mattison scored the game-clinching touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 24, against Utah State.
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Boise State junior tailback Alexander Mattison scored the game-clinching touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 24, against Utah State.

With No. 14 Utah State out of the way, Boise State will have a shot at back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles for the first time in program history.

The 21st-ranked Broncos host Fresno State (10-2) at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Albertsons Stadium with the 2018 Mountain West Championship trophy up for grabs. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

It will be the fourth meeting between the two teams in the last 16 games, including a 17-14 Boise State win in last year’s title game. The Broncos also beat the Bulldogs 24-17 on Nov. 9 in Boise.

[Related: Mattison fuels Boise State’s big win; Broncos show their toughness during win streak; scoring summary]

Boise State (10-2) clinched the Mountain Division title with a 33-24 win over Utah State on Saturday.

“We’re going to celebrate this (win) for 24 hours,” Boise State sophomore Curtis Weaver said in a postgame press conference. “We know Fresno’s hungry. We beat them on the Blue last time.

“They’re going to come back with everything they’ve got.”

Fresno State could be the third ranked opponent to play Boise State in the past four games. The weather forecast is ugly. According to The Weather Channel, there’s a mix of rain and snow expected in the morning with snow showers possible in the evening. The expected high is 39 degrees.

Boise State last won consecutive conference championships with a Western Athletic Conference three-peat from 2008 to 2010. The Broncos previously won Mountain West titles in 2012, 2014 and 2017.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at BroncoSports.com/tickets, by calling (208) 426-4737 or in person at the athletic ticket office on the west side of Albertsons Stadium.

Tickets are $45 in the main stadium, $35 in the curves and south end zone, and $25 in the north end zone. Student tickets are free, and student ticket reservations begin at 8 a.m. Monday.

Season-ticket holders can purchase their same seats, which will be held until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Boise State has won 13 conference titles in the FBS era, which began in 1996. The Broncos have 19 conference championships all-time, including three in the Mountain West, eight in the WAC, two in the Big West and six in the Big Sky.

Thomas has career game

With three fellow receivers sidelined, sophomore CT Thomas stepped up for the Broncos with a career night.

The 5-foot-8, 171-pounder from Lancaster, Texas, hauled in six receptions for a career-high 89 yards and was one of seven Broncos to catch a pass against Utah State. Thomas’ previous career best was 68 receiving yards against Troy in the Broncos’ 2018 season opener.

“When other guys are out, some guy’s got to step up, and CT’s been a guy all year that’s been doing a great job,” Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien said. “I’m sure if you asked him he’d probably want a few more touches, but that’s any good receiver. I think they always want the ball more.

“He did awesome tonight. ... He was out there making plays.”

Wide receivers John Hightower, Khalil Shakir and Octavius Evans each missed Saturday’s game. Hightower and Shakir also did not play last week against New Mexico.

Broncos’ defense takes another injury hit

Boise State junior safety Kekoa Nawahine — the team’s leading tackler (67) and one of only two defenders to start every game this season — was out for Saturday’s game against Utah State with an injury.

He joins a lengthy injured list on defense. Defensive linemen David Moa (season-ending injury) and Chase Hatada, safety DeAndre Pierce (season-ending) and linebacker Riley Whimpey (season-ending) also were out. Pierce and Whimpey led the team in tackles at the time of their injuries.

The Broncos have used 22 defensive starters this season, including 20 who have started at least two games.

Broncos win attendance battle

With the help of the 35,960 fans on hand for Saturday’s victory over Utah State, Boise State claimed more than just a division title.

Boise State increased its average attendance at Albertsons Stadium this season to 34,635, which is tops among Mountain West teams.

Going into the game, Boise State was averaging 34,370 fans. Fresno State was second with an average of 32,571 and San Diego State third at 32,010.

It is the third Mountain West attendance championship for the Broncos but first since 2015.

“That was one of the best atmospheres that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been back in our stadium,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “The crowd was phenomenal. The energy was amazing. We needed that tonight.

“We’ve been down a few dudes, and everyone knows that. I thought the crowd tonight really was the 12th man.”

More snapping struggles for Broncos

Boise State has dealt with inaccurate snaps on field goals and extra points in recent weeks, and it showed up again Saturday.

Junior Nicholai Pitman’s low snap on a 33-yard attempt by kicker Haden Hoggarth with 27 seconds left in the first half caused the kicker to be off balance, and he sent a low kick wide left.

Pitman was replaced in the fourth quarter by redshirt freshman Daniel Cantrell, the snapper on punts, but Cantrell’s extra point snap with 7:23 to play went right through holder Quinn Skillin’s hands. Skillin tried to pick it up and make a throw, which could’ve been a disaster, but it fell incomplete for a 26-17 lead.

Harsin said after the game that he still expects Pitman to be the snapper on placekicks.

Quick hits

Linebacker Tyson Maeva was the Broncos’ single-game captain. ... The Broncos wore all blue. ... Running back Skyler Seibold carried the Hammer. ... Linebacker Zeke Noa and STUD end Curtis Weaver tied for the team lead with seven tackles each. ... Chase Christiansen led Utah State with 15 tackles. ... STUD end Sam Whitney had the Broncos’ lone sack of the game.

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