A year ago, the word pee-gate hadn’t yet entered Boise State lexicon. Coach Petersen had left, and the current senior class was trying to hold down the fort going into to what would ultimately be a rather lacking performance versus Oregon State in Hawaii. Bronco Nation was in turmoil, obsessively tracking a coaching search online and hoping for the AD to make the right choice.
12 short months later, after a year of unfathomable growth (recruiting victories, the dawn of the social media era in Boise, the program opening up to people outside of the complex, allowing fans to really feel like part of things, and the never ending march of improvement during the season), we’re headed back to have ourselves a little Fiesta vs. the Arizona Wildcats.
Does Boise State have some issues to take care of? Sure does. Will it all get worked through and improved, just like the team has done with every other challenge in front of them this season? Confidence is easy to find on a day like today in Boise. Fiesta Bowl trophies cure a lot of ills.
Just like the Mountain West Championship, the opponent has any bearing on how this Fiesta Bowl is going to go. The Broncos have a month to prepare for an Arizona team that might be so demoralized by what happened in the Pac 12 champ game and by ending up in a “no-win bowl,” that they’ll under prepare and be taught a lesson in Glendale.
Grant Hedrick has grown up in front of us this season. He has demonstrated his ability to bounce back, whether from monster hits in the Ole Miss game or all the turnovers against Air Force to being the player of the game in the MWC championship game and the most accurate passer in the country. Jay Ajayi has proven himself as one of the greatest running backs in Boise State history, with great potential to start on Sundays. Matt Miller acted like a grown man through adversity that has broken lesser people and also will likely be playing in the league for a lucky team. The offensive line did a great job of playing big. Rees Odihambo had some truly memorable blocking and Marcus Henry stepped up to be another in the line of excellent Boise State centers. Shane Williams-Rhodes has played like a dangerous man and given us the gift of screen grabs from the sideline of the SDSU game. Jeremy McNichols + corners has given Bronco Nation enough joy to power the north pole through the holiday season.
Boise State’s defense has also done great things. Kamalei Correa has TEN SACKS on the season. 8 different Broncos have forced fumbles. Darian Thompson has seven interceptions! Donte Deayon has five! Tanner Vallejo got 42 tackles! Hell, #DeadCenterDan had three! The defensive line played very well against the run game for most of the season. If Boise State shows up at the Fiesta Bowl playing the type of defense that they did in the first half against Fresno, well, Arizona is going to be a bunch of sad kitties. Coach Yates and his crew have exceeded expectations, and truly proven themselves to be right back in that vein of shutdown Bronco defense more often than not this season.
What does a third Fiesta Bowl mean? It means playing for pride. Taking down yet another P5 school who thinks the matchup is a no-win situation. It means more hardware in Boise. It means recruiting bumps and enrollment bumps and all of those things that Boise State is going to have to do to keep moving forward.
It also means, definitively, that Boise State is greater than one man. Bronco Nation is taught this lesson over and over again. Coach Harsin knows it. His assistants know it. The alumni know it, the players know it, and Bronco Nation’s newest members are coming to understand. Boise State isn’t about flash and tricks and gimmicks. It’s not one coach, it’s all of them. The man who grew up here, played optimist ball on The Blue, fought and clawed his way for everything he’s gotten, was vindicated for believing in this place last night. All of us were. It wasn’t about Fresno. It’s not about Arizona. It’s not about Resource 5 vs. Power Program. What Boise State is about is belief in the ability to get better. To always improve. Doing the correct things, preparing the correct way, having a good mindset and working harder than everyone will pay off. Never flinch, never falter, and learn the lesson when failure happens. That is Boise. That is Idaho. That is the essence of this place.
Go Broncos. Bleed blue, and attack that future. This one is for all the Vizios.