It’s often said if you don’t like the weather in Idaho, wait a minute and it’ll change.
The same rule could have applied to the No. 16 Boise State football team’s performance on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The Broncos had their share of big plays — and head-scratching flubs — in a 38-13 victory over UNLV in a Mountain West matchup at Sam Boyd Stadium.
No. 16 Boise State (5-0 overall, 2-0 MW) achieved its goal of starting fast, as the offense scored on its opening drive and the defense shut out the Rebels (1-4, 0-2) in the first half. But the Broncos also committed 10 penalties for 130 yards, which happens to be the most penalty yards since they racked up 142 against Louisiana Tech in 1997, according to CBS Sports Network.
“I mean, a win’s a win. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done,” Boise State sophomore Khalil Shakir said. “We’re going to look over everything tomorrow and correct what we did wrong and try and execute better next week.”
Junior STUD end Curtis Weaver recorded three sacks against UNLV to push his career total to 29.5. He is now the Mountain West career sacks leader, surpassing BYU’s Jan Jorgensen (2006-09) and TCU’s Jerry Hughes (2006-09), who each had 28.5.
“Ten other guys are out there playing and playing really, really well. Curtis is doing his job, and he’s doing it well,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “When he gets a one-on-one opportunity, he’s able to go out there and make plays. But he’d be the first to tell you the other guys around him and what we’re doing schematically is helping those types of things happen.”
On the flip side, Weaver also had an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty that led to a UNLV touchdown in the third quarter. The Rebels’ scoring drive was twice kept alive by a Boise State penalty, including a personal foul on cornerback Jalen Walker that turned a stuffed run on second-and-12 into a UNLV first down.
“I thought these guys, they came ready to play. It wasn’t a perfect game, but they did come ready to play,” Harsin said. “You see teams that come off byes and they’re not (ready to play). I don’t think our guys had any of that in their mindset whatsoever.”
The Boise State offense had its ebbs and flows, too.
True freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier completed 19-of-30 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Shakir and fellow receiver John Hightower both surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark with 111 and 105 yards, respectively. Hightower covered 76 yards on a go route to put the Broncos up 14-0 in the second quarter. He also took a snap at quarterback on which the Broncos scored from 23 yards out on a reverse to Akilian Butler.
“We’ve been practicing it for a long time,” Hightower said. “It felt good to finally actually run it in a game.”
But Hightower also had a kickoff return for a TD called back because of a holding penalty, and the Broncos were a season-worst 2-for-13 on third downs. Even so, the Broncos’ perfect record remains intact despite their imperfections, something no other team in the Mountain West can claim.
“The best part is we have a ‘W’ and we get to go back and work on a whole lot of things,” Harsin said.
Boise State returns home to face Hawaii (4-1, 1-0) next Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. Kickoff is 8:15 p.m. on ESPN2.
“Hawaii is going to be the best football team we’ve played,” Harsin said. “I hope we’re the best football team that we can be come Saturday after all the work we’ve done, and then we’ll see what happens.”