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This Day In Sports: The Broncos’ introduction to the SEC

2000: At a time when Boise State had never beaten a BCS conference team, the Broncos go into Little Rock, Arkansas, and knock on the door against their old coach.
Credit: Boise State Athletics
Boise State quarterback Bart Hendricks looks to throw in a 2000 game. Hendricks led the Broncos to a 10-2 record and the Big West and Humanitarian Bowl championships that season.

BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…September 16, 2000:

Boise State plays its first-ever game against a team from the Southeastern Conference, facing Arkansas and former BSU coach Houston Nutt. It was a different atmosphere down South, and it took the Broncos awhile to settle down as they fell behind 24-0 in the second quarter. It looked like the Razorbacks would be able to name the score. But after a couple of Nick Calaycay field goals late in the second quarter, Bart Hendricks opened the third by marching Boise State 56-yards and capping the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Shay Swan. A two-point conversion throw to Lou Fanucchi made it a 10-point game.

The real turning point came late in the third quarter just after Arkansas had gone up 31-14, as the Broncos’ David Mikell returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a TD. Then Calaycay booted another field goal, and Hendricks hit Brock Forsey on a 42-yard touchdown pass, and the game was stunningly tied. The Razorbacks scored again, and it was 38-31. With just over a minute to play, Boise State had a fourth-and-goal from the Arkansas nine. Hendricks hit Jay Swillie, but he was stopped a half-yard short of the goal line and a possible overtime.

At this point, the Broncos had never beaten a BCS conference team (that wouldn’t happen for two more years — versus Iowa State in the Humanitarian Bowl). But their effort and comeback against the Razorbacks told them they can play with anybody. Boise State’s only other loss in 2000 was in another game the Broncos could have won: a 42-35 decision at Washington State. The Broncos finished 10-2 in Dirk Koetter’s final season and won their second straight H-Bowl, 38-23 over UTEP.

Hendricks would go on to lead the nation in touchdown passes that season with 35, earning Big West Player of the Year and Humanitarian Bowl MVP honors. After sharing starting duties with Nate Sparks his first two seasons, Hendricks took control of the offense as a junior and senior. He was central to the beginning of Boise State’s Golden Era. His 78 career TD passes were then a school record and are still fourth in the Broncos record book behind Kellen Moore (142), Brett Rypien (90) and Ryan Dinwiddie (82).

(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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