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Decade in Review: 11 biggest moments in Boise State football in the 2010s

The last decade offered Bronco Nation a little bit of everything - Fiesta Bowls, a coaching change, and the drama of joining and leaving the Big East Conference.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's Note: The video above is KTVB's coverage of Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies playing Boise State in 2015.

The Boise State Broncos have changed coaches, switched conferences three times, won two Fiesta Bowls, won four Las Vegas Bowls, and won the Mountain West Conference four times - all since 2010.

Since the 2010s are coming to a close, we're taking a look back at some of the biggest Boise State football moments from the last decade.

We selected the top Boise State moments of the 2010s by their lasting impact on the program, general craziness (we're looking at you First Responder Bowl), and games that solidified the Broncos' dominance as the country's premier Group of 5/non-AQ team.

The moments are listed in chronological order and here are the 11 biggest moments in Boise State football from the 2010s.

Boise State beats TCU 17-14 in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl

The 2010s started off with a big win for Boise State and Bronco Nation as Boise State beat the TCU Horned Frogs 17-14 in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. The win would set the table for the Broncos to be a national powerhouse for the early 2010s.

The matchup may have been less than desirable since Boise State was playing TCU, another Non-AQ team (non-automatic qualifier in the BCS era, now known as a Group of 5 team) and prevented the Broncos from taking on one of the traditional college football powers.

Credit: KTVB
TCU running back Matthew Tucker, center, is stopped by Boise State's Aaron Tevis (36), George Iloka (8), and Brandyn Thompson (13) during the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 4, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The game would have lasting impacts on both teams. Boise State would later join the Mountain West (we'll get into this dramatic saga later), of which TCU was a founding member, and TCU would join the Big 12 and establish itself as a title contender after a couple of seasons of struggling in the Big 12.

Clarification: While the season leading up the Broncos' second Fiesta Bowl was the 2009 season, the game happened on Jan. 3, 2010.

No. 3 Boise State beats No.10 Virginia Tech in a 33-30 thriller

Boise State followed their second Fiesta Bowl win with a challenging season opener on the road against the Virginia Tech Hokies and it was a back-and-forth classic game.

And yes, Boise State was one of the top five teams for several seasons during the waning years of BCS - a feat no other Non-AQ or Group of 5 team has accomplished since - sorry, UCF.

The matchup was a "neutral-site" game at FedEx Field in Maryland, where Virginia Tech fans turned it into their home away from home. Boise State silenced the 80,000-plus fans in attendance when they jumped out to a 17-0 lead over the Hokies to end the first quarter. Then Virginia Tech turned the tables when they cut the Broncos' lead to 20-14. 

Credit: Carolyn Kaster
Boise State captains Kellen Moore, Winston Venable, Jarrell Root and Nate Potter walk onto the field for their NCAA football game against Virginia Tech, Monday, Sept. 6, 2010, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. Boise State won 33-30.

The Hokies and Broncos traded scores in the third quarter and the Broncos entered the fourth trailing 26-27.

Halfway through the fourth quarter, Virginia Tech took a 30-26 lead and Boise State wouldn't mount a game-winning drive until less than two minutes were left in the game.

The Broncos marched 56 yards in 38 seconds to score the game-winning touchdown when Kellen Moore threw a 13-yard pass to Austin Pettis to take a 33-30 lead, only leaving 1:08 on the clock for the Hokies to tie or win the game.

Boise State would dominate the rest of their schedule until they played Colin Kaepernick and the Nevada Wolfpack on November 26.

RELATED: Offensive coordinator Zak Hill leaves Boise State for the Arizona State Sun Devils

No. 4 Boise State loses to Nevada 34-31 in overtime, dashing BCS dreams

Sorry Bronco Nation, this is one of the biggest moments of the 2010s just because it is both one of the most heartbreaking losses in Boise State history and it is also one of the biggest what-ifs. 

What if Kyle Brotzman made a 26-yard field goal to win the game or the field goal to send the game to double overtime? What if Boise State won and went to Rose Bowl, or even the National Championship if everything fell just right? What if Kellen Moore and the high-powered offense could just score a touchdown to win it? Where would Boise State be if they had back-to-back undefeated seasons?

Boise State fans may never have the answers to these questions, but this game dashed the Broncos' hope for another perfect-season.

Boise State Broncos running back Doug Martin tries to break free from Nevada Wolf Pack cornerback Duke Williams during the NCAA college football game Friday night, Nov. 26, 2010, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Patrick Cummings)

No. 5 Boise State beats No. 19 Georgia to kick off the 2011 season

If there was any doubt that Boise State was a force to be reckoned with, that doubt was cast away when the No. 5 Broncos dominated the No. 19 Georgia Bulldogs in the Chic-fil-A kickoff game in the Georgia Dome.

Beating a Top-10 ACC team in 2010 is one thing, but beating SEC powerhouse Georgia in Atlanta? That was a whole different beast for Boise State to take on and David knocked Galith down, and never let them get back up.

Boise State beat the Bulldogs 35-14 and Kellen Moore took Georgia's defense to the woodshed, going 28 of 34 for 261 yards and three touchdowns. The performance started Moore's senior season and Heisman campaign on the right foot.

This matchup was one of the Broncos' last major wins over an elite college football program during the Moore-Petersen era and furthered the reputation of Boise State's status as the biggest-little school in the country.

September 3, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boise State Broncos running back Doug Martin (22) celebrates with quarterback Kellen Moore (11) after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the third quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

End of an Era: Kellen Moore ends Boise State career as the winningest QB in college history

After four years, Kellen Moore graduates Boise State as the winningest quarterback in college football history with a 50-3 record. He also won a Fiesta Bowl, two Las Vegas Bowls, the 2009 and 2010 WAC Offensive Player of the Year, 2011 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, and was a finalist for the Heisman in 2010 (he also received votes for the Heisman in 2009 and 2011).

From 2008 to 2011, Moore set the bar for what Bronco Nation expects every year out of the starting quarterback and the overall season performance - realistic or not. He ended his career at Boise State with a 69.8% completion percentage, 14,667 passing yards, 8.8 yards per attempt, 142 touchdowns, only 28 interceptions, and an efficiency rating of 169.0.

RELATED: Kellen Moore places 4th in Heisman voting

Moore's knowledge of offensive schemes compensated for any of his athletic shortcomings, and highlights how he was able to go from back to a backup quarterback, to an NFL quarterbacks coach, to the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys - all in three years.

Credit: host
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore (11) is congratulated by fans following Boise State's victory over Louisiana Tech during an NCAA college football game in Ruston, La., Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. No. 5 Boise State won, 45-35. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

RELATED: 8 years after leaving Boise State, Bronco Nation continues to want Moore

His departure from Boise State marks an end of one of the program's greatest eras - one that won't likely be matched in the near future, or ever, regardless of who's under center for the Broncos.

RELATED: Boise State's Harsin reacts to Kellen Moore's Cowboys role: 'I couldn't be more excited'

2011-2012: Boise State's flirtation with the Big East Conference - now known as the American

Conference realignment in the early 2010s drastically changed the college football landscape and the Broncos were right in the thick of realignment - Boise State joined the Mountain West and left the WAC after the 2010 season, then announced they'll join the Big East Conference on Dec. 7, 2011, and then changed course by again by announcing they'll stay in the Mountain West on Dec. 31, 2012. 

It was an absolutely wild time for Bronco Nation.

Boise State backed out of joining the Mountain West after seven of the Big East's marque basketball schools broke off to form their own conference and the Big 10 and ACC took in Rutgers and Lousiville - which threw the conference's upcoming TV deal into murky waters without two of their top football teams and half of their top basketball programs. The Big East also lost its automatic qualifier status at the end of the BCS era, taking away part of the alure of joining the conference.

The Mountain West also did everything it could to keep Boise State after TCU, Utah, and BYU all left the conference in 2011-2012. Boise State was given a sweetened ESPN TV deal by having every home game broadcasted on ESPN - something no other team in the conference was given.

MORE: Broncos could have new competition in the Big East

MORE: Boise State to play in West Division of Big East

At the end of the decade, with the formation of the new College Football Playoff (CFP) and New Year's 6 (NY6) bowl games, the decision to stay in the Mountain West has reverberating repercussions for both the MWC and the American.

By staying in the Mountain West, Boise State is able to continue playing regional and historic rivals from the WAC era - which does keep travel costs for the entire school's athletics low but doesn't help the Broncos' strength of schedule argument in the CFP Rankings. 

However, if the Broncos were to stick with joining the Big East in 2012, Boise State would help make the American the premier Group of 5 conference. Since the formation of the CFB in 2014, the American has sent a team to an NY6 game four out of six years, including three straight. This is why the Broncos' flirtation with joining the Big East and staying in the Mountain West was one of the biggest moments for Boise State in the 2010s.

Credit: KTVB
kustra big east

RELATED: 'Things need to change and it needs to happen now': Bryan Harsin says Boise State needs to keep Bronco football growing

For those curious about the future of conference realignment, the current deal for the CFP doesn't end until after the 2026 season, about the same time that some conferences' TV deals end (the Big 12, Big 10, and the PAC-12's TV deals end between 2023 and 2025). Another round of conference realignment could be on the horizon if conferences are trying to beef up their TV deals with big-name schools or geographical footprint. If this were to happen, Boise State could finally make the leap to a Power 5 conference, stay in the Mountain West, or join UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Houston in the American Athletic Conference.

Coach Pete leaves for the Washington Huskies and Bryan Harsin takes the reins of the Broncos

On Dec. 6, 2013, Boise State's long-time head coach, Chris Petersen, left the Broncos to become the new head coach of the Washington Huskies in the PAC-12. Less than a week later, the university hired Bryan Harsin as the new head coach after a year of coaching Arkansas State and two years of being the offensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns.

RELATED: Coach Chris Petersen: The best ever at BSU?

Harsin was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos under Coach Pete during both Fiesta Bowl wins, a Boise State alum, and Boise native - it was a marriage between coach and school that couldn't match much better.

RELATED: Petersen, Harsin cut from the same cloth

Six years later, Harsin has led Boise State to one Fiesta Bowl win, three Mountain West Conference titles, three bowl wins, and a 64-16 record, which averages to over 10 wins per season. 

For Petersen, he announced in December that he was stepping down as the Huskies' head coach, but he will stay at the university in another role. After six years at UW, Petersen ends his tenure with a 54-26 record, one bowl win, but three straight NY6 appearances.

The transition between coaches couldn't have been any smoother, and Harsin winning a Fiesta Bowl right out of the gates certainly eased any concerns about this new era of Boise State football.

RELATED: Petersen: 'I'm always a Boise State fan'

Harsin leads the Broncos to Fiesta Bowl win in 2014

It might not have been a 14-0 season, but Boise State made sure to remind everyone in college football that Boise State is the gold standard of what will now be known as the Group of 5. In 2014, the College Football Playoff was created to finally give college football fans a playoff in the FBS - granted it's only a four-team playoff and Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson have more appearances than anyone else.

The new CFP also created the NY6 Bowls from what was BCS Bowls. The NY6 also included a guaranteed spot for a G5 team - and Boise State was the first to make use of the new system.

Boise State started the season with a 35-13 loss to Ole Miss, but the Broncos turned it around from there and ended the season 11-2 with a Mountain West Championship before taking on Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Eve. The Broncos won 38-30.

Credit: Matt Kartozian, Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Boise State Broncos defensive end Rondell McNair (32) celebrates after beating the Arizona Wildcats 38-30 in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl at Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Rypien fills in for an injured Ryan Finley, becomes one of best QBs in Boise State history

When Bryan Harsin recruited Brett Rypien out of eastern Washington, there was some hype surrounding the highly-touted quarterback, but few would have guessed that Rypien would become one of Boise State's most prolific passer - breaking nearly passing record in the Mountain West's history.

The only reason Rypien got the starting role was that Finley broke his ankle during a game against Idaho State on Sept. 15, 2015. Finley would have to miss eight weeks and Rypien made the most of his opportunity when the Broncos went on the road against Virginia and dominated the Cavaliers 56-14.

Rypien finished the game 24 of 35 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. From then on, there was little doubt that Rypien would be the next four-year starter for Boise State. When the writing was on the wall, Finley would go onto transfer to NC State, where he would have 10,501 career passing yards, 60 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions.

While Rypien may never have won an NY6 Bowl, but he was still 37-12 in his career at Boise State. Oh, he also threw for over 13,500 yards, 90 touchdowns, 24 picks, and had a career passing efficiency rating of 149.3. His career stats rewrote much of the Mountain West's passing record book - Rypien has the conference record for career passing yards, career pass completions, tied for second-most career passing touchdowns, and he won the conference offensive player of the year award in 2018

Rypien taking the reigns of the Broncos' offense gave Boise State stability at quarterback after Moore left. The three seasons between Moore and Rypien consisted of Joe Southwick in 2012 and Grant Hendrick in 2013 and 2014.

RELATED: Broncos QB Rypien ready to compete for starting job

RELATED: Finley injured, taken to locker room

Sep 2, 2017; Boise, ID, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien (4) during second half action versus the Troy Trojans at Albertsons Stadium. Boise State defeats Troy 24-13.

RELATED: Rypien has 'a gift' for the game of football

The First Responder Bowl becomes the first modern no-contest game

Bronco Nation is used to thrilling and crazy moments, but few things are out of left field and out of the blue like the 2018 First Responder Bowl against Boston College.

Just after losing to Fresno State in the 2018 Mountain West Conference Championship game in overtime at Albertsons Stadium, the Broncos were looking to end their season on a high note against a 7-5 Boston College in the First Responder Bowl.

But Boise State never got that chance against Boston College after the game was delayed thanks to an incoming lightning storm and then the game was ultimately called a no contest with 5:08 left in the first quarter.

Boston College's head coach, Steve Addazio (who is now the new head coach of the Colorado State Rams), tried declaring that the Eagles had won the game since they lead 7-0 when the game was called off but the record books will now forever show the game never actually happened.

The NCAA doesn't have any records of an FBS game being called off due to weather so this might be one of the only games to end like this - making it one of the craziest ways for any college football game to end and biggest moments for the Broncos in the last decade.

RELATED: Canceled: Boise State and Boston College go home empty handed due to weather

Credit: Richard W. Rodriguez
The First Responder Bowl between Boston College and Boise State was canceled due to weather and was designated a no contest after multiple lighting delays Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018, in Dallas.

Student vs. Teacher: Harsin and the Broncos take on Petersen in his last game as the Huskies' head coach

While some Boise State faithful may grumble at the thought of a fifth Las Vegas Bowl for the Broncos, it's hard not to think about how this Boise State-Washington matchup has one of the most compelling storylines in all of this year's bowl season. After six years as UW's head coach, Chris Petersen is stepping down and his final game will be against Boise State - the program that he launched into the stratosphere of college football.

It's a fitting way for the Broncos to end the decade and one for Petersen's coaching career. While both Harsin and Coach Pete don't want to overshadow the players on the field, the possibility for Harsin to go 2-0 against the coach that brought him to Boise State as an offensive coordinator is impossible not to discuss.

RELATED: Boise State fans react to upcoming bowl game against Washington Huskies

The last time Boise State played Petersen's Huskies was in front of an electric crowd at Albertsons Stadium in 2015. Boise State won 16-13 thanks to a missed Huskies field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.

Sep 4, 2015; Boise, ID, USA; Boise State Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin (R) and Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen (L) hug after the conclusion of the game at Albertsons Stadium. The Broncos won 16-13.

RELATED: Chris Petersen was never going to do this forever

The 2019 Las Vegas Bowl will also be the last time that some of Boise State's biggest stars will suit up for the Broncos. Here's the full list of seniors that will play their final game at Boise State:

  • S Khafari Buffalo
  • WR Akilian Butler
  • TE Garrett Collingham
  • NT Emmanuel Fesili
  • DT Chase Hatada
  • QB Jaylon Henderson
  • WR John Hightower
  • OL Garrett Larson
  • DT Matt Locher
  • NT Sonatane Lui
  • DT David Moa
  • OL John Molchon
  • S Kekoa Nawahine
  • TE Matt Pistone
  • LS Nicholai Pitman
  • OL Eric Quevedo
  • K Eric Sachse

The Vegas Bowl might also be the last time that junior STUD Curtis Weaver and junior offensive lineman Ezra Cleveland. Both have NFL talents and may declare for the NFL Draft. Neither player has said whether they'll leave Boise State early, but don't be surprised if they make a decision to forego their senior seasons following the bowl game.

Boise State might not be Cotton Bowl-bound, but if the Broncos win in Sin City, a 13-1 finish will be the best season record in the Harsin era and best since the 14-0 season in 2009 - a feat that Bronco Nation should not overlook.

RELATED: Chris Petersen steps down as the Washington Huskies' head coach

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