Boise State Broncos

Boise State won’t receive BYU treatment from ACC

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The Boise State Broncos have been one of the best non-Power Five programs for the past 15 years, but that’s not good enough for the ACC.

A report surfaced last week that stated that the ACC would now consider the BYU Cougars a non-conference Power Five opponent despite the school’s independent status.

While the Broncos have been just as good — if not better than the Cougars — on the field, their status won’t be be considered to fulfill the requirement.

Originally, the ACC wasn’t going to count BYU. It then realized that would be a mistake since at least one program scheduled the Cougars for a future date. Who’s to say the same won’t happen for Boise State?

After all, two programs already scheduled three games against the Broncos in the coming years.

The biggest difference in this scenario is Boise State is affiliated with the Mountain Conference, while the ACC reached agreements with two independents in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and BYU. Boise State obviously doesn’t bring the same national appeal or flexibility with its scheduling.

Boise State regains top billing with 38-30 victory over Arizona in Fiesta Bowl

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The Boise State Broncos are back, and it’s like they never left.

After an 8-5 record during Chris Petersen‘s final season with the program, Boise State appeared to be on a downward trend. The start of the 2014 season wasn’t promising either with a 35-13 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels to open the campaign. However, this year’s Broncos squad proved to be resilient.

The program reeled off 11 wins in its next 12 games and claimed a Mountain West Conference title. The Broncos were then anointed the top team among the Group of Five conferences and was granted a bid to the Vizio Fiesta Bowl.

The magic the Broncos experienced in two previous Fiesta Bowl appearances continued Wednesday. The nation’s 20th-ranked team held on for a 38-30 victory over the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats.

The win helped cement Boise State’s status as one of the elite programs outside of the Power Five conference.

“It’s huge,” Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin told ESPN’s Todd McShay after the game. “To be here and play a Top 10 team on this stage, I think it says a lot about what we’ve endured throughout the season to be where we are right now.”

Boise State finished 12-2 overall during Harsin’s first year with the program.

What has been built is Boise, Idaho, is bigger than the coaches leading the program. Since Dirk Koetter took over in 1998, the Broncos are 133-35 overall. Three different head coaching changes occurred between then and now, and the program continues to chug along.

The Broncos win by finding talent that is overlooked by other programs.

The best example on this year’s squad is running Jay Ajayi. The junior ran for 134 yards on 22 carries on his way to setting Boise State’s single-season records for rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns.

Undersized quarterback Grant Hedrick also posted a solid effort despite a poor second half. The senior completed 24 of 34 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown.

These were Boise State’s leaders on offense. Neither will be with the team next year. However, the program will continue to do what it does. It’ll win more games than almost anyone else in the nation.

Boise State’s Jay Ajayi shreds Arizona Wildcats defense during first half of Fiesta Bowl

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The No. 20 Boise State Broncos feel at home playing in the University of Phoenix Stadium for the Vizio Fiesta Bowl.

The Broncos are making their third trip to the Fiesta Bowl in seven years. The difference this year is the Broncos aren’t determined to keep the game close.

Bryan Harsin‘s squad built an impressive 31-17 lead against the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats in the first half.

The game quickly turned in Boise State’s favor during the Bronco’s initial drive.

Four plays into the game, Broncos running back Jay Ajayi ripped off a 56-yard touchdown romp. He went untouchded through of the middle of the line of scrimmage. It wouldn’t be Ajayi’s only big run of the first half nor his only touchdown.

The running back started hot and didn’t cool off. Ajayi carried the ball 12 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns.

With his second touchdown, Ajayi broke two school records:

Ajayi’s second touchdown romp was done with style, too. Harsin decided to dust off the Statue of Liberty again, and it worked as well against the Wildcats as it once did against the Oklahoma Sooners in 2007.

As special as Ajayi’s first half was, Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick also played at a high level. Hedrick was nearly perfect through two quarters of play. Not a single pass the quarterback threw touched the ground.

Hedrick, the nation’s leader in completion percentage, was 17-of-18 passing for 272 yards and a touchdown. His only incomplete pass come from an interception by Arizona’s Cam Denson.

As explosive as Boise State proved to be on offense, Arizona was capable of moving the ball as well. The Wildcats gained 196 yards. They were able to close the gap to 11 points before giving up a late field goal just before half time.

Arizona needs to find a way to slow the Broncos in the second half. They’ve been unable to do so at this point. Meanwhile, the Wildcats defense can expect a big dose of Ajayi as Broncos try to control the third and fourth quarters.

Boise State’s Tyler Horn lost for season due to knee injury

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Tyler Horn‘s season is over, but his career as a member of the Boise State Broncos isn’t finished.

The school announced on Friday Horn, a senior, will miss the rest of the season due to knee injury he suffered during the Broncos’ opening contest against the Ole Miss Rebels.

Horn injured the knee in the second half of the game only to return to the sidelines wearing a heavy brace. Prior to the injury, Horn had four tackles including one for a loss.

Horn played in 34 games during his career, and his absence along the defensive front leaves a big void.

“He had that leadership role,” defensive line coach Steve Caldwell told the Idaho Statesman. “Sam (McCaskill) did some good things in there, but they have a lot of confidence in Tyler. He’s been around here for a while. (Defensive end Beau Martin) will take over that. Then those other guys just have to step up if (Horn) can’t play.”

Along with McCaskill, senior Justin Taimatuia, junior Antoine Turner and freshman Dereck Boles should be expected to contribute with Horn out of the lineup.

“…Sam is the right guy to step up,” senior nickel Corey Bell told the Idaho Statesman. “He’s been somebody who has been growing underneath guys like Tyler and some of the older guys for a couple years. I think he’s ready to get out there and kind of mature and play at a more serious level and more serious snaps.”

The biggest concern moving forward for Boise State is McCaskill’s lack of size in the middle of the defense. At 250 pounds, teams are going to run right at the redshirt sophomore. McCaskill and the rest of the Broncos played the run well during the team’s 35-13 loss, though. Boise State surrendered only 71 yards on the ground.

Horn, meanwhile, is expected to receive medical redshirt this season and return for the 2015 campaign.

(Hat tip: ESPN Boise 730 AM)

Chris Petersen backs off vote, still wants to play Boise State

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Washington head coach Chris Petersen recently gave the impression he had already forgotten the program that made him a household name. Peterson, however, argued he was misquoted and the Boise State Broncos have every right to play against top college football programs.

There was a time when it would have been unthinkable to see Petersen leave Boise State for another job. Year after year, his name was attached to every available opening at a major university. Petersen politely declined interviews each time until the Washington Huskies called.

Petersen was named the Huskies’ new head coach on Dec. 6. Eight months later, ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy polled all 65 Power Five head coaches about whether or not they would like to see their program exclusively schedule other Power Five opponents. Inexplicably, Petersen was one of 30 coaches that voted in favor of such a change.

It was a shot across the bow for Petersen’s former school, particularly when Washington is slated to play Boise State during the 2015 season.

Petersen decided to clear the air regarding his vote.

“First of all, I don’t even know when I answered that question,” Petersen told reporters in Seattle. “I had a lot of questions coming at me and I didn’t really know exactly what it meant. I think we are trying to get some parity in terms of scheduling in terms of the league games that we play so we are all on the same footing there. I think a Boise State, I don’t know if they are in a quote power conference, but they are a power team. So I’m always a Boise State fan and I wouldn’t do anything to keep those guys, so called, out of the mix.

“I’ve been in that conference forever and I know the players and coaches that are in there so there’s no question that we’d wanna play those guys and I know they wanna play us. There’s good players and that’s great competition.”