Boise State Looking For Magic, While UCF Plays Hide And Seek

BY MIKE PRATER
THE IDAHO PRESS & BLUE TURF SPORTS

By most accounts, the Boise State football program cranks out one of those truly magical seasons every 12 to 14 years. Or roughly every decade.

1980: Broncos win NCAA I-AA national championship.

1994: Broncos end losing streak to Idaho, play for national title.

2006: Broncos win Fiesta Bowl.

In case you haven’t noticed, the 2010s — is that what we call it? — are running out of time.

Boise State has one more season to keep the trend going, and add to its magic collection. And that season is now.

Why not now?

Four weeks into the season — albeit a crazy, bizarre and unpredictable season — evidence suggests that this Boise State football team is more than capable of something memorable.

The Broncos are 4-0 with a mostly favorable schedule, and enough moxie, chemistry, talent and toughness (physical and mental) to keep us on the edge of our seats for the next three months.

Now add UCF to the list of things that are going well for Boise State.

Good news: The Group of Five darlings of now, who had won 27 of their past 28 games, lost to unranked Pitt on Saturday afternoon.

Better news: We won’t hear from the Knights’ annoying athletic department or arrogant fanbase — at least for a couple of days while they recover from a brutal blow and relaunch their bid for a second national championship.

Good luck with that.

But this is about Boise State, and a vibe that seems to be hovering above campus this fall. A tight, bonding vibe that we haven’t seen around here for a long time, if ever.

There’s a new president on campus, and Marlene Tromp is no Bob Kustra. He was all business, which is what Boise State needed for the previous 15 years. Tromp is more touchy-feely, all about human interaction, spreading goodwill on campus … and tweeting.

It’s working — she ran onto the field with the players Friday night, and students seem to love her and her energy.

The student section is suddenly a hip place to hang on Friday and Saturday nights.

All fans nearly set a school attendance record for Friday’s victory over Air Force (the crowd of 36,498 was only 367 short of the record).

Hank Bachmeier, the true freshman quarterback, oozes magic and plays with a flare that will put butts in the seats. Same for sackmaster Curtis Weaver, a likely first-round NFL Draft pick next spring. Both are bonafide superstars.

And the defense — that defense!!! — has brewed something crazy and delicious during the second half of four consecutive games (opponents have been outscored 61-9 in the second half this season).

Even coach Bryan Harsin — who plays a mean mind game, preaches a tight day-to-day routine, and keeps his players motivated and hungry — admits to seeing signs of a “really, really good team.’’

What’s not to love — so far?

Personally, I wanted UCF to win Saturday. I wanted Boise State and UCF to win the rest of their games, win conference titles, and land at-large invitations to the G5 Super Bowl, otherwise known as the Cotton Bowl. I wanted Boise State to at least have a shot at shutting down the loudmouths of college football.

It could have happened, if the above scenarios played out, and if both teams finished in the top 10. Certainly in the top eight.

Still possible, though hardly probable.

Then again, the Idaho Vandals smothered Big Sky power Eastern Washington on Saturday, so anything is possible.

That’s what Harsin will preach most over the next eight regular season games. He had to love what happened Saturday, hopefully tucked away in his home, college football on the big screen, grill cranked up and a rare day off.

His Broncos suddenly have a clear path to G5 glory. Win out, including a Mountain West championship game in December, and they’re headed to the Cotton Bowl.

Harsin also has a strong, humbling reminder to pound into the brains of 100 players that nothing is given in college football, especially in this season of parity and upsets.

Yes, this Boise State team is good, and could become great.

Yes, if you believe in such things, the program is due for another magical season.

Yes, too much drama remains to get too worked up in September.

But for now, because of all the hard work that lies ahead, let’s enjoy the goodness of the past couple of days, a win-win for everybody.

Except UCF. And that’s A-OK.

Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Bronco Game Night after every Boise State football game on KTIK and KBOI 670 AM. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at mikefprater@gmail.com.

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