Most 3-4 football teams around the country are trying to play out the strings and finish a disappointing season as soon as possible.
The same can’t be said for Boise State.
The Broncos, despite one of the worst starts to a season in program history, still have plenty to play for. As crazy as it sounds, the Broncos are assured of a spot in the Mountain West title game with wins in their final five games.
“They are well aware of that,” tight ends coach Nate Potter said with a grin.
Boise State’s bye week came at the perfect time. It allowed the group to recharge and refocus for the stretch run. Is it hard to put a string of tough losses and a 3-4 record behind them? Sure. Is it easier knowing they can still make something of the season? You bet.
The Broncos play three teams either tied or ahead of them in the standings in the final five games, starting with Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Wyoming at Albertsons Stadium on FS2.
“If you look at the rankings of the Mountain West, we play all but one team ahead of us and we’ve only got one loss,” safety Alexander Teubner said. “We’ve got an opportunity. If someone else is going to play in the Mountain West Championship, in our eyes they have to beat us to do it.
“We’re in a position where we control our own fate, which is good. Regardless of what happened in the past, we know that’s the fact of the matter and having that opportunity is something where it’s not a ‘what if’, it’s ‘this is what we’re going to do.’”
Wyoming is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in Mountain West play. The Broncos are also 2-1 in conference play along with Fresno State, which recently lost to Wyoming in Laramie. Boise State travels to play at Fresno State next week.
The Broncos also finish the regular season at home against Air Force, which sits at 7-0 overall and a perfect 4-0 in Mountain West play. The only team above the Broncos in the standings they don’t play is UNLV, who is 3-0 in league play.
But with Boise State still playing Air Force, Fresno State and Wyoming, the Broncos would hold tiebreakers overall three with head-to-head wins – meaning they’d finish no worse than second and earn a spot in the title game on Dec. 2nd with wins in each of their final five games.
Boise State’s other remaining games are at home to New Mexico and at Utah State.
“When your goal is still out in front of you and you control your own destiny at the end of the day – you always feel better about that,” co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Kane Ioane said. “We know it’s one day at a time. It’s a cliche thing but it’s really not. It’s one thing at a time, one moment at a time and being in the moment, whether it’s a meeting, in the class room, at practice – we have to be in the moment and continue to focus on the small little details.”
The math is fairly simple. Boise State needs to go 1-0 in five straight weeks to assure themselves a spot in the title game. They could sneak in with another loss, depending on who it’s against, but the easiest way to guarantee it is to not lose.
Another, more attainable goal is getting to at least six wins to qualify for a bowl game. The Broncos need to go 3-2 to do that, and with tough games remaining at Fresno State and against Air Force, Saturday’s game against Wyoming would seem like a must win.
“We had a big team meeting on Sunday after the (loss at Colorado State) and we all committed on the spot to finishing out the season strong knowing our goal was still available for us and we’re going to focus on that,” senior captain Riley Smith said. “This is the playoffs right now and we’re going to take it one at a time, go 1-0 every week and at the end of the day, even though the season didn’t start the way we envisioned it, we can still complete it. And everybody bought into it, so I’m excited to see what comes from that.
“When we play at our best, there’s nobody that is going to be able to beat us.”
The pressure has been raised. The stakes are higher. The season is quite literally on the line. And the Broncos are ready to go.
“We love it,” Smith said. “We embrace the pressure and we know there’s a lot on the line and we’re excited to get back out there.”
BNN will be live from The James Kitchen and Bar after Saturday’s game with the Lithia Ford of Boise Postgame Show. Get postgame analysis and thoughts from former Boise State offensive line coach Brad Bedell, hear from coach Andy Avalos and more. Make sure to subscribe to Bronco Nation News on YouTube to watch the show.