The Boise State football team will play outside the usual Mountain West bowl system, and the fit is a good one — playing in a historic venue against a Power Five opponent in a key recruiting area.
The Broncos will play in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Wednesday, Dec. 26, against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent — Boston College. The game kicks off at 11:30 a.m. MT and will be televised on ESPN. The game is played at the Cotton Bowl.
It is the 17th straight bowl appearance for Boise State (10-3), which lost to Fresno State 19-16 in overtime Saturday in the Mountain West championship.
“I don’t see any negative in it ... we’ve had a lot of consecutive bowls we’ve been a part of, and to play against a team like Boston College, you see Boston College-Boise State, I think that’s a bowl game a lot of people will know about,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
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The Broncos and Eagles have played once before, in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, a Boston College win. Harsin was a Boise State assistant coach in that game.
The Eagles (7-5) lost three games to end this season against Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse. They were ranked as high as No. 17 in the AP Top 25, when they were 7-2 going into their home game with Clemson.
Both teams feature talented running backs — Boise State junior Alexander Mattison has rushed for 1,415 yards in 13 games and Boston College sophomore AJ Dillon has 1,108 yards in 10 games, missing two October games with an injury. The Broncos are 15-9 since 2006 against teams from Power Five conferences, but 1-4 in their last five.
“We know how big of a challenge it will be to face the Broncos,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio said, adding of Boise State, “excellent football program, very successful ... football’s very important in that community, and it’s obvious.”
Usually, the First Responder Bowl pairs a team from the Big Ten with one from Conference USA, but Mountain West Associate Commissioner Bret Gilliland said that the ESPN-owned game allowed the network to move teams around to create matchups like the Broncos and Eagles.
The bowl game was formerly known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl and has been played since the 2010 bowl season. Bowl director Brant Ringler said Boise State had wanted to play in a new game and to face a solid opponent. The Big Ten did not have enough teams to fill all of its bowl slots, allowing an at-large spot for Boise State and the bowl was able to switch an ACC team for a C-USA team with the Gasparilla Bowl. Marshall is the C-USA team in that game. The Thundering Herd play at Boise State next season.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. ... Our guys are excited about it,” Harsin said.
SHAKIR LIKELY BACK FOR BOWL: Harsin said freshman wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who was hurt late in the Nov. 9 win against Fresno State, is expected to play in the bowl game. He has missed the three games since. Shakir had the game-winning touchdown against the Bulldogs. Harsin also said sophomore receiver Octavius Evans is unlikely to play. He had a lower leg injury he suffered in fall camp that was aggravated in October and has not played since Oct. 19.
First Responder Bowl
Who: Boise State (10-3) vs. Boston College (7-5)
When: 11:30 a.m. MT Wednesday, Dec. 26
Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas (92,100)