Bronco Beat

To Boise State, San Diego State players, it’s rivalry. But Rocky Long? Not so much

The last two seasons, Boise State’s football schedule was missing a little something, apart from facing BYU. Traditional rivals were nowhere to be found, but those will be back in spades in 2017.

Boise State faces not only BYU, but Nevada, Fresno State and two-time defending Mountain West champion San Diego State. For the Aztecs, it is a game they are looking forward to, despite not having played the Broncos since a 2014 Boise State win at Albertsons Stadium.

“They beat us, so we’ve still got that bad taste in our mouth, we’re ready to get after them this year,” San Diego State defensive back Kameron Kelly said.

Former San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey was known to engage with Boise State fans on Twitter, including one tweet proclaiming him to be better than Jeremy McNichols. Pumphrey made it no secret he wanted to play Boise State once more in the conference championship game, but the Broncos failed to make it for a second straight year.

The Broncos and Aztecs are the preseason division favorites in the Mountain West.

“It’s a big rival game, I feel like,” San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny said. “... Knowing DJ wanted this game so bad, it sucks for him, but I’m glad we’ve got it.

“Because of the tradition and the past success with Boise State and San Diego State, going into the game there’s so much energy. Everybody loves that type of game. It’s two teams always tabbed to win the championship. There’s just something different about it.”

The teams are 2-2 against one another in their four meetings, with Boise State taking the first and fourth. Junior defensive tackle David Moa is a San Diego native and eager to face the Aztecs for the first time.

“Very excited,” Moa said. “They have a bunch of talented guys, we have a bunch of talented guys.”

Junior quarterback Brett Rypien also has not faced the Aztecs yet.

“It’ll be fun, I haven’t been able to play them my first two years,” Rypien said. “... We’re looking forward to that game. They’ve been at the top of the conference the last two years, so getting a shot at them will be good.”

San Diego State coach Rocky Long has been a provocateur in the matchup, famously saying Albertsons Stadium’s blue turf had “no mystique.” On Tuesday, when asked about prodding Boise State fans, Long joked: “I love Boise State fans. Why, have I said something that offended them?”

“I think our fans in San Diego like to see Boise, so I think it’ll be a good crowd,” Long said.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an interview with Long when Boise State is brought up without something intriguing mentioned.

“I don’t know if it’s a rivalry, I think true rivalries you play every year,” Long said. “... On the Mountain side, there’s probably some real good rivalries building.”

Long said so-called bulletin board material used to matter, but added that it makes little difference now since most of the players know one another and “half of them are saying it back and forth to each other on their phones.”

BOISE STATE-SAN DIEGO STATE HISTORY

Nov. 19, 2011 (San Diego): Boise State 52, San Diego State 35

Nov. 3, 2012 (Boise): San Diego State 21, Boise State 19

Nov. 23, 2013 (San Diego): San Diego State 34, Boise State 31 (OT)

Nov. 15, 2014 (Boise): Boise State 38, San Diego State 29

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