It’s win-or-else time for the Broncos so enjoy the drama – if you can
The Boise State football team has won its past four games, two of them in places where bad things have been known to happen.
Last week, the Broncos beat BYU in one of the most thrilling finishes in Albertsons Stadium history.
The vibe coming from Bronco Nation: a mix of relief, frustration anxiety and, judging by this week’s ticket sales, a little bit of apathy.
Maybe it’s time to ease those standards just a bit — and enjoy what your team is doing. And this is the perfect time for a new approach, because November 2018 for Boise State is about wins, and only wins.
The Broncos (7-2 overall, 4-1 Mountain West) face No. 16 Fresno State on Friday night. The Bulldogs are tied for the highest-ranked opponent to play the Broncos on the Blue.
That designation likely will change in two weeks, when No. 14 Utah State comes to town.
In between, the Broncos play at New Mexico.
Win all three of those games, and the Broncos will play for the Mountain West title — and possibly a major bowl bid — at Albertsons Stadium. Doesn’t matter what the score is.
Doesn’t matter how many missed tackles they have. Doesn’t matter if the offense runs hot and cold, as it does nearly every game.
Lose any one of those games, and the Broncos almost certainly will miss the championship game for the fourth time in six years of divisional play in the Mountain West. That’s just one of many reminders that the juggernaut of the WAC days that created the expectation of winning with style and ease has been succeeded by a program that must scratch and claw its way through the more challenging Mountain West.
Four weeks ago, coach Bryan Harsin seemingly had to remind everyone that the 31-27 win at Nevada was a positive result — even though it was a nailbiter to the end. San Diego State lost in Reno two weeks later.
Three weeks ago, frustration crept into my Twitter feed and email inbox as the Broncos let off the gas with a 35-0 lead over Colorado State. They won 56-28.
Two weeks ago, I listened on the airplane ride home as fans expressed happiness with the program’s first victory at Air Force’s Falcon Stadium but voiced frustration with the first half — which, at 28-28, was the most entertaining half in a Boise State game this season.
And Saturday night, reporters were asked to rip the Broncos in print for their performance in the 21-16 win against BYU. Mistakes were made, of course — but wasn’t the true story of that game an injury-riddled defense stopping BYU from scoring a touchdown on seven of its eight possessions inside the 30-yard line, including on the final snap of the game from the 2?
It’s good to have high standards. Boise State coaches and players often point out that their standards are the highest of all.
It’s not as good to have high expectations. Because
The inclination is to go with Boise State, because that’s the way it almost always has gone. But Fresno State beat the Broncos once and was 5 minutes away from beating them again last season, and their offense is better now. They have more pieces in play than they did for either of those games, so I’d expect them to be in better position to win this game. I don’t see Fresno State running the ball with any success with its backs, but the Bulldogs will use quarterback Marcus McMaryion in the run game. McMaryion is much more comfortable with the offense, and that shows in the third-down and red-zone numbers; both way up. I don’t see the game going over that total, but I think Fresno will win.
20. Fresno State 27, Boise State
when you start expecting greatness, it’s difficult to appreciate the very good.
That’s what this Boise State team is. As was last year’s, and the 2016 version, too.
None of those teams have been great. The inconsistency can be maddening — I get that, and mention it frequently.
But the Broncos’ record since the start of 2016 is 28-8 — an outstanding mark at a time when many of college football’s most-storied programs have been unable to sustain their expected level of success (Florida, Florida State, Miami, Nebraska, USC and Texas for starters). Boise State’s non-conference and bowl matchups in that stretch include seven Power Five opponents, three games vs. BYU, two vs. Sun Belt power Troy, two against other Group of Five schools and none against FCS schools.
Have the Broncos been capable of accomplishing more? Yes.
Did they win some games they probably shouldn’t have? Also yes.
With three games to go, it’s time to appreciate rather than nitpick ... until the Broncos lose. Then have at it.