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This Day In Sports: Broncos-Vandals in the Big West’s swan song

2000: Before a raucous crowd of 30,856, Boise State and Idaho usher out the Big West era, with the Broncos getting the best of their in-state rival.
Credit: Boise State University Archives
Boise State players celebrate the Big West’s final football championship as KTVB’s Mark Johnson interviews tight end Robby Snelling in Bronco Stadium, Nov. 18, 2000. Boise State beat Idaho 66-24.

BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…November 18, 2000:

In the final regular-season game in Big West football history, Boise State pounds Idaho 66-24 in sold-out Bronco Stadium. The Broncos rolled up a 42-10 halftime lead on four of Bart Hendricks’ five touchdown passes on the day. They went 56 yards in just over a minute on their first possession — Hendricks connected with Lou Fanucchi from 41 yards out for Boise State’s first score. The Broncos’ top receiver on the day, however, was a tight end. Robby Snelling made five grabs for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Hendricks wrapped up his regular season career with his first 400-yard game, going for 405 yards and adding a 13-yard TD on the ground to cap a second consecutive Big West Offensive Player of the Year campaign. Fittingly, the Broncos defense that day was led by the conference Defensive Player of the Year, Quintin Mikell. The sophomore safety made 12 tackles, two of them for loss, including a sack of Idaho quarterback John Welsh.

In the process, the Broncos won the last Big West football title and their second straight after going undefeated in conference play. The victory capped a 10-game Big West winning streak dating back to 1999, during which Boise State averaged a staggering 50 points per game. The Big West Coach of the Year in 2000 was Dirk Koetter, and he’d lead the Broncos into battle one more time before heading for Arizona State. Koetter’s (and the Big West’s) final game would be in the Humanitarian Bowl against UTEP, a 38-23 win.

In addition to the Broncos and Vandals, the final Big West football lineup included Utah State, New Mexico State, North Texas, and Arkansas State. The league had been playing football since 1969, when it debuted as the Pacific Coast Athletic Association. The name was changed to the Big West in 1988. The conference continues operating to this day in non-football sports. In 2001, Boise State and Idaho would go their separate ways, with the Broncos off the WAC and the Vandals to the Sun Belt.

(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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