Michael Callahan is realistic on Boise State’s situation with three games remaining.
“There would have to be a lot of crazy things happen for us to play in the championship game,” Boise State’s fifty-year defensive tackle said.
And he’s right. While the Broncos haven’t been officially eliminated from the Mountain West race, they’d need a lot of unlikely things to happen the next three weeks to get back in the mix.
So with three games left the Broncos find themselves in a spot they haven’t really dealt with in well more than a decade – playing for pride, for stats, for a spot in a bowl game. But not for a championship or any national relevance.
Boise State (4-5) needs two wins in its final three games to qualify for a bowl game – something they’ve achieved in each of the past 25 seasons.
“For right now the bigger thing motivating us is playing for each other and having a chance to go out there and compete with our brothers,” Callahan said. “We know at the end of the day we have a chance to play in a bowl game. Right now we’re just fixed on going 1-0 each week. We’re not worried about things out of our control or down the road. Everyone on the team has done a great job of blocking off everything else that’s going on this season or around us and focusing in on going 1-0 this week.
“Regardless of the situation it’s important to finish strong. Whether we’re 9-0 or where we’re at, it’s always important to finish strong. Guys have done a good job buying in and focusing on our team. It’s been a very team mindset this week. Not that it hasn’t been all season, but a lot of guys have definitely stepped into roles they aren’t used to, and I’m excited to see them fly around and get a chance to compete on Saturday.”
If it wasn’t already bad enough, the Broncos have had to deal with an unexpected distraction this week. Star wide receiver Eric McAlister informed the team Sunday he was sitting out the final three games and transferring.
Are other players considering the same thing? Are players already on the way out the door and going through the motions the last three weeks for a 4-5 team? It’s a logical question and one that’s been discussed around the water cooler at work and on BNN and KTIK shows all week.
Players and coaches who spoke with the media this week say that’s not the case. The group maintains they are motivated and focused for the final three games.
“Just to finish strong,” sixth-year senior Billy Bowens said. “That’s been our M.O. since I’ve been here. If there’s one thing I’m taking away from Boise State it’s to finish everything you do. Be resilient, always respond and just finish the season the right way.
“We’re doing it for each other, for pride, for the brand – for Boise State. We just have to finish everything we do and that’s our biggest priority right now.”
Most players took the high road when talking about McAlister’s decision to leave the team early. They seemed disappointed, but wished him well.
Callahan went a bit further when asked about the current state of the Broncos.
“Obviously we know the season hasn’t gone the way we want but we know within our program, we know that grown men are going to finish what they start,” Callahan said. “We think that it’s important for us to stay focused on what’s going on in the building and focused in on the task at hand, which is New Mexico.”
The Broncos are favored by 26 points against the Lobos (3-6), who have lost four of their past five games.
Boise State plays at Utah State on Nov. 18th and hosts Air Force on Nov. 24th. The Broncos need two wins in their remaining three games to reach six wins and qualify for a bowl game. The last time the Broncos didn’t qualify for a bowl game came in 1997.
“We’ve been talking about it and making sure we’re able to finish the season strong and continue to believe we can go 1-0 the next couple games,” running back George Holani said. “The main focus is going 1-0.
“It starts with ourselves, continuing to come out and bring the energy. Especially for the older guys and the seniors, just being able to do that for the older guys who have been here for a while. … We have a lot of guys who care about this team. It’s important to finish for the older guys and finish strong.”
Tickets still remain at BroncoSports.com. Boise State is offering a $20 bundle in which fans get a ticket to Saturday’s 8 p.m. football game vs. New Mexico and Sunday’s 2 p.m. basketball game against San Francisco.
Bronco Nation News will be LIVE on the patio at The James Kitchen and Bar on Saturday at 4 p.m. for a special edition of the Lithia Ford of Boise Pregame Show. Come meet former Boise State quarterback and assistant coach Mike Sanford, former coach Kent Riddle and more from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.