Marquee matchups against Power 5 Conference opponents have been a staple for the Boise State Broncos football team over the past 20 years.
Big games translated to program-defining victories, ranging from Fiesta Bowl wins to early-season victories over the likes of the Oregon Ducks, Georgia Bulldogs, and Virginia Tech Hokies. These are among a few moments that are forever captured in time, cementing the legacy of the Broncos as a Group of 5 stalwart.
In recent years, results have been mixed in these spotlight games. Victories over Oregon, the Washington Huskies, the Washington State Cougars and a Fiesta Bowl win over the Arizona Wildcats have been the highlights. However, losses against the Baylor Bears, Oklahoma State Cowboys, and Ole Miss have left a lot to be desired.
Saturday’s game against Florida State is another fantastic chance for the current Broncos to add to the program’s legacy. Based on remarks from a small few — do not take this scientifically — feelings about what side of the win-loss spectrum the result will fall is mixed. Either way, the game in *Tallahassee might be a good indicator as to how the 2019 season shapes up. (*The game was moved to Tallahassee from Jacksonville due to Hurricane Dorian.)
Back in the day, when Boise State ran wild in the WAC, a victory over a big school — today’s current Power 5 — early in the season would set the stage for a run at a big bowl game. Take care of business in conference and the rest would fall into place.
In 2019, the steps are still the same, except the gap between teams has closed in the Mountain West, and the top level in the Group of 5 has become more crowded.
Group of 5
The Boise State Broncos are still a favorite program to get the valued “Group of 5” marquee bowl game. Except other teams have stepped up, and are beginning to win marquee games of their own.
Over at the University of Central Florida, the Knights have staked claim to the best Group of 5 team. They have turned themselves into a solid program in recent years, with marquee wins of their own. And while Boise State travels to Florida State, the Knights get two chances at knocking off Power 5 schools as they face Stanford and Pittsburgh.
The Houston Cougars have been in the mix for years and will be again this season. So will UAB, a team that might be lost among the shuffle even with a perfect regular season.
And one can’t forget about the Cincinnati Bearcats, who defeated UCLA 24-14 on Thursday night to kickoff their 2019 campaign.
Others to keep an eye on as the season progresses: Appalachian State, Troy, Fresno State, Utah State
The game at hand
In a “one-game-at-a-time” mentality, Florida State is the issue at hand. And, believe it or not, the pieces are in place for a little Bronco magic to occur Saturday morning.
There’s a talented defense ripe with depth and experience. The offense has what should be a dominate line and plenty of skilled players at receiver and running back.
Plus, what better story is there to tell than a freshman quarterback picking up a huge road win in his debut?
Hank Bachmeier will certainly have his chances, but if he can have an error-free game and the defense rises to the occasion, Boise State may get the victory they desire.
It won’t be easy, taking on a Florida State team on a redemption tour of its own. The program had a 36-year bowl streak snapped in 2018, a season that ended with a 41-14 thrashing by its rival Florida. It was also Florida State’s first losing season in 43 year.
Florida State will bring an up-tempo attack on offense, as installed by coordinator Kendall Briles. And their defense will also be looking to re-establish the swagger and fear the program once held.
All told, picking up the victory for the Broncos will be no easy feat. Playing a road game, underdogs, and breaking in a new quarterback.
Seems like a perfect brew in true fashion for the Boise State Broncos, ideal for a victory to me.
Kickoff is set for Saturday, August 31 at Noon (ET) on ESPNews.