BOISE, Idaho — UPDATE: The Mountain West Conference announced Wednesday evening that Boise State's game against UNLV has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just six days after the Boise State football team's final home game of the regular season was canceled, the Broncos will hit the road for a matchup against the UNLV Rebels.
The game is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday and will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. It will be played at Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders.
As of this writing, the game is scheduled to go on as planned. But in the 2020 college football season, nothing is certain.
Last weekend's game against San Jose State was billed as a clash of unbeaten teams in the Mountain West that could decide which of them would earn a trip to the conference championship game.
But less than five hours before the scheduled 2 p.m. kickoff, the conference canceled the game due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Broncos' program.
It was a heartbreaking development, especially for many senior players who were looking forward to Senior Day and playing, potentially, their final game at Albertsons Stadium.
"It's sad," senior cornerback Avery Williams said. "It's sad to put in the hard work, the coaches are here until midnight every night putting in a game plan. Senior Night on the Blue, it's a big thing for us, just to celebrate with our brothers, and our parents that came to the game, it was kind of sad."
After the cancelation, all team activities were paused as players and coaches underwent additional testing on Sunday. Boise State (4-1, 4-0 MW) announced late Monday night that the team would resume practice on Tuesday. Another round of testing was planned for Wednesday.
"Under the circumstances, I'm very concerned," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said during a press conference on Sunday. "I'm optimistic that we are going to get to practice on Tuesday, and we'll figure out how to weigh that out and get our reps for our team and how we can juggle some guys around to make it work, because we want to. But, yeah, I'd be lying to you if I wasn't concerned daily."
Meanwhile, UNLV (0-5) has had its own COVID-19 struggles. The Rebels' game against Colorado State two weeks ago was canceled after positive coronavirus tests kept them from traveling to Fort Collins. They were able to play last Saturday, falling 45-14 to Wyoming at Allegiant Stadium.
Rebels coach Marcus Arroyo said on Sunday that he hoped some players who missed last weekend's game will be able to return this week. However, like Harsin, he knows anything can happen between now and kickoff.
"We ran into a situation that many are dealing with," Arroyo said of players missing the game. "We're scheduled to play a game this Friday versus a premier team in our league, and again, we'll prepare with the group we've got best we can, knowing that things can change in 24 hours on the drop of a dime."
Boise State (4-1, 4-0 MW) at UNLV (0-5 MW)
- Friday, Dec. 4
- Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MT
The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network (John Sadak, Randy Cross), which can be found on the following channels:
- Sparklight: Channel 139 / 1139 (HD)
- DirecTV: Channel 221
- Dish Network: Channel 158
- Cox: Channel 234
ON THE RADIO
Fans can listen to the game on the Bronco Radio Network (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender) 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
Here is a list of Bronco Radio Network stations outside the Boise area.
The game will stream live on the CBS Sports website, as well on the CBS Sports mobile app, available in Apple and Android app stores. The service is only available to subscribers of participating cable and satellite television providers (including Sparklight, Cox, Dish Network, DirecTV, Hulu and YouTube TV, among others).
BRONCO ROUNDUP GAMEDAY SHOW
KTVB's Bronco Roundup Game Day show will be live from 6 to 7 p.m Friday evening on KTVB, KTVB.COM, and on the KTVB mobile app. Join Jay Tust, Will Hall for a look at all of the major storylines surrounding this matchup.
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
KTVB will live stream the post-game press conference on KTVB.COM, the KTVB YouTube channel, and on the KTVB mobile app.
Interviews with coach Bryan Harsin and players will be posted online soon after the press conference ends, so you can watch the press conference whenever and wherever you want.
Stay tuned to KTVB.COM after the game for a game recap, highlights, and slideshow from the game.
THIN AT D-LINE
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin announced on Sunday that defensive end Sam Whitney suffered a season-ending injury in the Hawai'i game.
He acknowledged that "our trenches are thin" on the defensive line, and that may be an understatement. Whitney joins Demitri Washington, Keeghan Freeborn and Herbert Gums on the list of d-linemen lost for the rest of the season.
To make matters worse, Scale Igiehon has been limited by injury.
Harsin noted that certain positions, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, are difficult to fill if they are decimated by COVID-19 and/or injuries.
“Kekaula Kaniho is not going to play defensive end,” he said.
Fortunately, the Broncos still have Scott Matlock and Shane Irwin to lead the way, but behind them is a lot of youth and inexperience that may require some shuffling of positions to make sure there's enough depth to play week in and week out.
VEGAS' VENERABLE VENUE
If all goes as planned on Friday, the Broncos will play their first-ever game at the new Allegiant Stadium, home to the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders. As KTVB sports analyst Tom Scott pointed out in Wednesday's Scott Slant column, the Boise State faithful have always traveled well to Sin City in support of their team. But this year is different:
If it weren’t for 2020, this UNLV game would be one blue-and-orange people would flock to. Boise State has poured as many as 15,000 fans into rickety old Sam Boyd Stadium through three games against the Rebels and five Las Vegas Bowls. But now it’s time for Allegiant Stadium, the new domed home of the Raiders just west of Mandalay Bay, and it is something else. It cost almost $2 billion, and it seats 65,000. Surely it would have filled this fall for the Raiders, but what kind of a draw would UNLV have been? A crowd of 20,000 was big for the Rebels at Sam Boyd. Allegiant would certainly provide a boost, but all the attention now in Vegas goes to the Raiders during football season. UNLV scrapes for any exposure it can get these days. We’ll circle back in 2021.
Boise State holds an 8-3 all-time lead in the series with UNLV that dates back to 1972. The Broncos have won each of the last six meetings, with the last loss happening way back in 1976.
Boise State and UNLV split a six-game series from 1972-77, with each team defending home field on each occasion.
Boise State is 5-0 against the Rebels since 2011 when the teams became league rivals. None of the games in that span have been remotely close, with the Broncos winning by an average of 24.4 points.
The last game played between the teams was a 38-13 Broncos win at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2019.
Boise State's all-time record against UNLV:
- Oct. 5, 2019 - W - 38-13 (Las Vegas)
- Nov. 18, 2016 - W - 42-25 (Boise)
- Oct. 31, 2015 - W - 55-27 (Las Vegas)
- Oct. 20, 2012 - W - 32 - 7 (Boise)
- Nov. 5, 2011 - W - 48 - 21 (Las Vegas)
- Sept. 24, 1977 - W - 45-14 (Boise)
- Nov. 6, 1976 - L - 31-26 (Las Vegas)
- Oct. 18, 1975 - W - 34-21 (Boise)
- Oct. 19, 1974 - L - 37-35 (Las Vegas)
- Oct. 13, 1973 - L - 24-19 (Las Vegas)
- Sept. 16, 1972 - W - 36-16 (Boise)
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