In what has become a common theme throughout the last decade of the Boise State-Idaho rivalry, the talk before the game was whether this might be the year the Vandals could rise up and shock the Broncos. That notion was put to rest in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The Broncos came out firing on all cylinders with their defense and special teams leading the way and another in a long line of routs over the rival Vandals was on. Idaho had absolutely no answers offensively to keep up with the frenetic scoring explosion Boise State laid on them for the 7th consecutive season.
The Bronco defense was the first to announce their presence by pressuring Idaho QB Nathan Enderle into three hurried throws in the first series of the game, all resulting in incompletions. The punt that followed provided the first of many highlights for the Broncos on the night. Chris Potter fielded the booming punt at his own 24 yard line and with the help of some key blocks, he pinballed through three tacklers and broke into the clear around midfield, easily outracing the Idaho coverage team. It was the third consecutive season that a special teams touchdown ignited the Broncos and took the wind out of the sails of the Vandals.
Taking a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game, the Bronco defense continued to make their presence felt. Brandyn Thompson grabbed the first of his two interceptions on the next series and Doug Martin ran the ball 6 times on the ensuing drive with his final carry bowling Idaho safety Shiloh Keo backwards into the end zone. The Boise State trickeration took over as they went for the onside kick, which had Idaho off-guard but sailed harmlessly out of bounds. Idaho took over deep in BSU territory and looked poised to score before Aaron Tevis stepped in front of another Enderle pass to end the drive.
Idaho’s defense played tough all night and after the horrific start of the offense and special teams, they made a great stand to force the Broncos into the first of 5 punts. Unfortunately, the Broncos had an answer, this time blocking the next Idaho punt leading to a Jeremy Avery touchdown and a 21-0 lead just 11 minutes into the game. The Broncos struck again on a 58 yard bomb from Kellen Moore to Titus Young and carried a 28-0 lead into the 2nd quarter.
The Bronco offense scuffled a little bit in the second quarter, with one field goal and Avery’s 2nd touchdown with only 12 seconds to go in the half. Boise State’s defense, however, was absolutely dominant once again. Outside of two very well executed fake punts by Idaho, the Broncos held a potent Idaho offense to only 223 yards and 7 points. The Vandals rushed 23 times for 8 yards outside of Kama Bailey’s two fake punt scampers. Quarterbacks Nathan Enderle and Brian Reader combined to throw the ball 54 times for only 215 yards and 3 interceptions.
Boise State was in cruise control in the 2nd half with Doug Martin scoring on a two play drive to open the 3rd quarter and Moore scrambling and heaving a beautiful throw to reserve tight end Gabe Linehan in the back of the end zone for the Broncos’ final points of the night. Joe Southwick and Mike Coughlin took turns over the final quarter and a half and were unable to move the offense. Much of that ineffectiveness had to do with the way the Vandal defense played. Put into a terrible hole early, the Vandals did give up a few big plays but otherwise played with a lot of heart and took away a lot of the plays that BSU usually executes with ease.
The Bronco offense spread things around with 11 different players catching a pass and 9 players credit with at least one carry. They weren’t as crisp as they had been the week before, setting a school record for yardage against Hawaii. With a dominating defense and big play special teams, they didn’t need to be perfect. However there is some concern going forward as they face two tough tests in the next two weeks. Fresno State comes to Boise for the 2nd of 3 consecutive Friday night showdowns and they often provide the most physical test that the Broncos face in any given season. Get caught looking ahead to the next week at Nevada and the Broncos could trip up against Fresno.
If the Broncos can keep bringing the heat defensively and sprinkle in some special teams highlights, those two phases can carry them even when their offense isn’t playing the sharp, effiicient football we’re used to seeing. Yet the schedule keeps getting tougher and there becomes less margin for error. Focusing on the present, it was a great night for the Broncos and a great way to end this portion of the rivalry with the Vandals. As the two schools look for ways to resume this game on an annual basis in the future, Bronco fans can come away from this game feeling great about what their program has accomplished, and where it appears to be going.