BOISE - For the first time in the history of the Boise State football program, the Broncos will play the same team in consecutive weeks. They will meet Fresno State this Saturday for the regular season finale before the teams face off the following week - most likely in Boise - for the Mountain West Championship Game.
LIVE GAME TRACKER: Broncos vs. Bulldogs
According to ESPN, this is the first back-to-back college football matchup since UCLA and Stanford played in consecutive weeks back in 2012.
At stake on Saturday is momentum going into the conference championship game. It could also determine where the title game is played. The conference determines the host site for the championship based on the College Football Playoff Rankings.
The Broncos moved up two spots to No. 23 in the latest rankings, released on Tuesday. If Boise State were to lose on Saturday, there is a very small, outside chance that Fresno could jump the Broncos, giving them home-field advantage for two-straight weeks.
At his press conference on Monday, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin acknowledged the strange circumstances surrounding the next two games, but said his team is taking it one game at a time, and will not hold anything back this Saturday.
"If we think like that, if we are kind of iffy on, 'Hey, let's just win one of the two, we will make the
second one more important, then I think we've completely derailed everything we're trying to accomplish through the season." Harsin said. "I've never coached a game in my life that I didn't try to win, and tried to hold back something. I've never thought like that."
First-year Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford echoed that sentiment at his weekly press conference noting that the Bulldogs are treating this week (and next) as business as usual.
"To go in an win, that's what the goal is," Tedford said. "They are coming to town here and then we are going there pretty much after that, so it'll be interesting. First time that it's happened, but we are going to treat it as business as normal."
- Boise State at Fresno State
- Saturday, Nov. 25
- Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, California
- Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. MT
The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network, which can be found on the following channels:
- Cable One: Channel 139 / 1139 (HD)
- DirecTV: Channel 221
- Dish Network: Channel 158 (NOTE: A contract dispute between CBS and Dish has been resolved, meaning Dish customers will be able to watch the game.)
ON THE RADIO
Fans can listen to the game on the Bronco Radio Network, which can be found online or on the following stations in the Boise area:
- KBOI 670 AM in Boise
- KTIK 93.1 FM in Boise
- KDZY 98.3 FM in McCall
- KSNQ 98.3 FM in Twin Falls
For a list of Bronco Radio Network stations outside the Boise area, click here.
BRONCO ROUNDUP GAME DAY
KTVB's Bronco Roundup Game Day show will be live from Bulldog Stadium from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. on KTVB, KTVB.COM, and in the Bronco Roundup app. Join Jay Tust, Will Hall and special guests for a live look at all of the major storylines leading up to kickoff.
Saturday's game will be the first between the two programs since the 2014 Mountain West Championship, a 28-14 Broncos win. The teams also played earlier in that season with the Broncos winning 37-27. Boise State and Fresno State have faced each other a total of 18 times over the past 40 years, with the Broncos owning a 13-5 advantage in the all-time series.
The programs played just three times between 1977-2000, but have since played regularly as conference mates in the WAC and Mountain West.
Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, a star linebacker for the Broncos from 2000 to 2004, knows a thing or two about the rivalry.
"Regionally for us, going back to the early 2000's, this is a huge game, we played each other every single year back then," Avalos said on Monday. "And I don't think if falls off very much now.
"I think the rivalry is still there," he added. "We're rooted in the West Coast in terms of, we recruit
against each other, we've played against each other a lot, so for many years its been a really good game."
Since 2005, the winner of each contest claims the "Milk Can" trophy.
Boise State's all-time record against Fresno State:
- Dec. 6, 2014 - W, 28-14 (Boise)
- Oct. 17, 2014 - W, 37-27 (Boise)
- Sept. 20, 2013 - L, 40-41 (Fresno)
- Oct. 13, 2012 - W, 20-10 (Boise)
- Oct. 7, 2011 - W, 57-7 (Fresno)
- Nov. 19, 2010 - W, 51-0 (Boise)
- Sept. 18, 2009 - W, 51-34 (Fresno)
- Nov. 28, 2008 - W, 61-10 (Boise)
- Oct. 26, 2007 - W, 34-21 (Fresno)
- Nov. 1, 2006 - W, 45-21 (Boise)
- Nov. 10, 2005 - L, 7-27 (Fresno)
- Oct. 23, 2004 - W, 33-16 (Boise)
- Nov. 21, 2003 - W, 31-17 (Fresno)
- Oct. 18, 2002 - W, 67-21 (Boise)
- Oct. 19, 2001 - W, 35-30 (Fresno)
- Nov. 2, 1996 - L, 7-41 (Fresno)
- Sept. 8, 1984 - L, 21-37 (Boise)
- Sept. 17, 1977 - L, 7-42 (Fresno)
Heading into Saturday's matchup, the Broncos are ranked No. 23 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, released on Tuesday, and are the only ranked team in the Mountain West.
This is the 16th straight year Boise State has been ranked at some point during the season.
Sophomore running back Alexander Mattison is just 39 yards shy of reaching 1,000 rushing yards for the season. If he reaches the 1K mark during the regular season finale, it will be the eighth straight year the Broncos have fielded a 1,000 yard rusher. Auburn is the only other FBS team with such a streak.
Mattison picked up a large chunk of his yards this season in a single game. Against Colorado State on Nov. 11, he rushed for a careerp-high 242 yards and three touchdowns. His 286 total yards also set a school record. The performance that earned him Mountain West Player of the Week honors.
Fresno State is amidst one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college football. The Bulldogs finished the last three seasons with losing records, and hit a new low last year at 1-11. Under first-year head coach Jeff Tedford, the program has completed a remarkable about-face with an 8-3 record so far in 2017.
One reason for the Bulldogs' success this season has been their outstanding defensive play, which is tops in the Mountain West, and ranked No. 12 in the nation, allowing 307 yards per game.
"It is a good defense," Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said on Monday. "They fly around, they know what they're doing, and they play pretty sound.
"They don't give up the explosive plays, so you gotta go earn it," he added.
On the Bulldogs sideline this Saturday will be two faces very familiar to Broncos fans: Kirby Moore and D.J. Harper. The former Boise State standouts are now on the coaching staff for Fresno State. Moore is the receivers coach and Harper is a graduate assistant.
Tedford was asked about how Moore is handling the task of preparing to face his former team.
"When you go to a school with a great tradition like Boise State, there will be feelings there forever on his experiences at Boise State, and I know he has a great deal of respect for them," Tedford said. "But he works here now, and I think he has a great deal of respect for who we are, and has worked very, very hard over the year to help do his part to put us in this position."
"You stay true to the sideline that you're on," he added.
But as KTVB sports analyst Tom Scott points out in Tuesday's Scott Slant column, the door swings both ways:
"Boise State wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau spent last season as Fresno State’s offensive coordinator and was the interim head coach for the very difficult final four games of the season after Tim DeRuyter was fired. Kiesau will have an interesting perspective as he gets his troops ready for this Saturday’s game. And let’s say this about Kiesau and offensive line coach Brad Bedell, the two newcomers to the Bronco staff this year. Both have overseen position groups that have come miles since the loss to Virginia on September 22. Witness the development of A.J. Richardson, Sean Modster, Octavius Evans and CT Thomas during this seven-game win streak—and the circling of the wagons on the O-line, which has allowed two sacks in three November games."