OPINIONATOR: Boise State’s Loss to San Diego State Shouldn’t Be A Surprise – The Program Is No Longer Great, Just Good


Boise State’s 19-13 loss to San Diego State on Saturday night was humbling … sobering … frustrating.

It could be worse.

What if Boise State playing football at this level – good, but not great – is the new norm and we just don’t know it?

There’s certainly ample evidence to support a sneaky new norm:

  • The Broncos have started 3-2 in four of their past six seasons.
  • Quarterback Brett Rypien has lost three games in each of his three previous seasons, and now has two this year, with at least seven games remaining on the schedule.
  • Coach Bryan Harsin now has four unexplainable home losses on his resume – all as a double-digit favorite (New Mexico and Air Force in 2015, Virginia in 2017, SDSU in 2018).
  • Boise State has never produced an undefeated Mountain West season under Harsin or Rypien.

So, sitting here feeling duped after so much preseason hype, what were we expecting in 2018?

The standard around here remains Chris Petersen and Kellen Moore, where those things didn’t happen under their powerful regime.

We became spoiled.

We’re still spoiled.

We want Boise State to be great, because Petersen and Moore were great.

When if fact, Boise State is only just good, because Harsin and Rypien are good.

Great programs don’t have hiccups and scars and warts … and the Broncos have plenty of those since the two greatest icons in the history of the program departed. Boise State still wins plenty of games under Harsin and Rypien, and the team tends to finish strong, which gives us hope for the next two months, but let’s not pretend we haven’t felt the way we did Saturday night.

SMH! …

It’s the new norm for Boise State football, whether we admit it or not.

Power 5 wins, New Year’s Six bowl appearances, dominant Mountain West seasons and guaranteed home wins have been replaced by wins over Troy, Las Vegas Bowl appearances, a couple of league losses a year … and curious and crushing upsets at home.

Once-dependable results have been replaced with inconsistency … or in the case of Saturday night, poor quarterback play, a soft offensive line, questionable play-calling and curious special teams.

What makes this so humbling … sobering … frustrating … is the fact that Harsin can coach and Rypien can play quarterback. In the two previous seasons where Boise State started the season 3-2 under Harsin (2014, 2017), the Broncos went 17-1 the rest of the way with two Mountain West titles and Fiesta/Las Vegas bowl victories.

That gives Boise State hope for the rest of the season, though a NY6 bowl appearance and Rypien’s quest to finish his career in a big postseason game probably won’t happen after the ugliness we witnessed Saturday on the blue.

A great season is gone.

And a good season awaits.

That’s the new norm for Boise State football.


Mike Prater, editor of The Opinionator, co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk with Caves & Prater weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket and can be heard on Bronco GameNight after BSU football games on KBOI 670 AM and KTIK 93.1 FM. He can be reached at mike.prater@cumulus.com, and found @CavesandPrater(Facebook) and @MikeFPrater (Twitter).