Boise State Football: Playing to Win or Playing to Not Lose

Photo via Pam Davis

An interesting symptom of starvation is food hoarding. When the body is in most need of nutrients, the mind makes the decision to save it for later, often leading to death or other permanent damage.

The Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LII champions, have a “Super Bowl hangover.” Riding on the high of victory is not enough to propel the team to continued success.

Playing to defend a title, is a dangerous way to play. Rather, one should play to win the next title. Basically the same thing, but polar opposites in attitude.

Since joining the Mountain West Conference in 2011, Boise State has been crowned conference champions only three times and never back-to-back. In fact, the only team since 2011, to win back-to-back MW championships is San Diego State (2015, 2016).

Now, do not fear or freak out Bronco Nation. In all three instances of winning the MW (2012*, 2014, 2017), the Broncos went 7-1 in conference play.


The key is how do the boys in blue, respond? Do they continue to play it safe? Or do they come out to dispel concerns and play to win?

In 2012, the Broncos lost to San Diego State 21-19. They responded by pounding Hawaii 49-14, followed by Colorado State 42-14. They won the conference title and went on to beat the Washington Huskies (future home to Coach Petersen) in the Las Vegas Bowl.

In 2014, the Broncos lost to Air Force 28-14. They responded by running the table (including a monster 63-14 win against Wyoming), beating Fresno State in the conference championship and appearing in their third Fiesta bowl to beat #11 Arizona Wildcats.

In 2017, the Broncos lost to Fresno State 28-17. They responded by beating the Bulldogs (ranked No. 25) the very next week, 17-14 in the championship game and went on to a resounding win against Oregon Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Can this year’s group of players come out on top and respond the same way as Boise State MW champions of the past?

The 2007 Fiesta bowl is the ultimate example of playing like you have nothing to lose. The Broncos forever cemented that attitude in the minds of every fan. Boise State will put it all on the line. They will call reverse laterals, half-back passes, and trick hand-offs, whatever it takes to win the game.

Teams that play with a passion to win tend to win. Teams that play conservatively to not lose tend to lose. When trying to maintain what you have is your goal, you’ll never gain anything more.


About Taylor Hart

Taylor Hart
Taylor was born and raised in the Treasure Valley. He developed a strong love for anything Broncos related. Even though he doesn't currently reside in the Boise area any more, his wardrobe mainly consists of blue and orange which he wears proudly and often, much to his wife's chagrin.

Check Also

Early Signing Day Overview

December 19th is the day most collegiate football coaches have circled on their calendar. For …