After an emotional rivalry game late Saturday night, the Cougars (2-1) prepare quickly on a short week to face the No. 24 Boise State Broncos (1-1) for a Thursday night ESPN featured game on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium.
Winning at Boise State has been no easy task for visiting opponents, evidenced by Boise State’s national-best 83-3 (.965) record at home since 1999.
Their overall record is also a national-best 147-23 in that same span.
“I hope we have confidence at home,” Broncos head coach Chris Petersen said. “This is a different team than the ones we have had in the past. We are younger than normal right now. But we have great fans, and crowd noise, trust me, is very important.”
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall understands what is waiting for him at Bronco Stadium. The Cougars practiced with crowd noise piped-in in preparation for their game with Utah, but the volume was cranked up even louder than that at practice Monday in preparation for this week’s Boise State game.
“Bronco Stadium only holds 37,000, but we’ve had opposing coaches say they have never heard 37,000 get so loud,” Jordan Turner, a junior at BYU and a Boise native, said. “It sounds more like 70,000 or 80,000 people in there. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s loud, rowdy, and well, very loud.”
BYU is all-time 0-2 against Boise State, with one of those losses coming on the blue turf on Sept. 24, 2004.
With 23 seconds remaining, BYU kicker Matt Payne missed a 38-yard field goal to keep Boise State’s first perfect regular-season intact. Boise State won the closest game on its home field since joining the WAC 28-27.
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson visited Boise State when he was the true freshman quarterback for the Utah State Aggies back in 2006.
“The Boise State fans, they come out in the masses, and they love their Broncos,” Nelson said. “They fill up that stadium week in and week out, and it really doesn’t matter who the opponent is. I went to Boise for Utah State’s bowl game against Ohio [in 2011], and there were more Boise State fans there than Utah State and Ohio fans. They love their football, and the fans are passionate for the program.”
Having played there in the past may be a benefit to Nelson, however, as the Broncos are the only FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) team to play on a non-green field.
“[The blue turf] is not going to be a factor,” Nelson added, commenting on why Boise State is so dominant at home. “It’s going to be night time, and I have played there before. It won’t be a factor at all.”
Boise State’s blue turf has been iconic to the team’s image for nearly the past 30 years, but more recently, Boise State gained some more national attention when the fans would arrive to the stadium color-coordinating the seating.
“Bronco Stadium isn’t a huge stadium like some of the other schools who traditionally do well at home,” said Taylor Nickel, a junior at BYU who was voted “biggest Boise State fan” in high school. “But there is something electric about the atmosphere with 37,000 clad in blue and orange. There is nowhere else like it, and it’s intimidating to opponents.”
BYU fell out of the AP top 25 with its loss last week but sets out to rebound and take a big step forward against a ranked opponent in Boise State.
Boise State lost a regular season game last year at home, against TCU, for the first time since 2001.
The game between BYU and No. 24 Boise State is the only ESPN game of the night, kicking off at 7 p.m. It is the only game of the year in which two non-AQ schools will be the featured night game on ESPN.