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This Day In Sports: The notorious 9-degree game on the Blue

2014: With a visit to Laramie on the horizon, it’s a good time to revisit a historic night in Albertsons Stadium. You could feel neither your fingers nor your toes.
Credit: Otto Kitsinger/AP Photo
With temps in single digits, Boise State fans throw snow after a touchdown against San Diego State during an NCAA game in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014.

BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…November 15, 2014:

A day after a freak storm finishes dumping a November-record 7.6 inches of snow on Boise, Boise State and San Diego State play the coldest game in Albertsons Stadium history. The temperature at kickoff was 9 degrees. The epic freeze far eclipsed the Miami-Nevada game in the then-MPC Computers Bowl on New Year's Eve, 2006. None of the Broncos’ 1994 Division I-AA playoff games measure up. If you throw the 1980 playoff game against Grambling out there, I will say "au contraire." The temperature that day was 25 degrees — the fog and the hoarfrost on the trees just made it look colder. The record at that SDSU game will likely stand for years, and even decades, to come.

The attendance of 27,478 was the lowest in 11 years at Albertsons Stadium, but it should come with an asterisk. When the number pops up in the future as a small crowd benchmark, everyone will know why. I'd estimate more than half of the fans were back in their seats after halftime, and most of those stayed until the bitterly-cold end. The thing about a crowd like that in conditions like that: they were the hard-cores, and they brought as much energy as any other game. It was like they were all in it together, and they wanted to make up for those who weren’t there.

Now to the football. The warm-weather Aztecs were unfazed, bursting out to a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Boise State offense was, like just about everything else, frozen during the first 1½ quarters, while San Diego State was taking a blowtorch to the Broncos defense. It was then that Boise State started one of its biggest rallies ever. There was a point early in the third quarter, though, when the Broncos still looked to be stuck in neutral. They began the second half with a three-and-out and were facing another when Chris Santini’s 24-yard run on a fake punt changed the complexion of the game.

In the last 2½ quarters, Boise State outscored SDSU 38-9 and held the Aztecs to 151 yards while rolling up 362 themselves. The Broncos’ Jay Ajayi had 108 of his 134 rushing yards and all three of his touchdowns in the second half. The 38-29 win was crucial, as it kept Boise State on track for a berth in the Mountain West championship game. The Broncos would ultimately earn it, taking the conference title and going on to win their third Fiesta Bowl.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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