The last time the Boise State Broncos and Washington State Cougars crossed paths, it was in 2008. Boise State was accepted into the Pac-10 and Washington State was on its way out.
Those were in the glory days of dynasty mode on what is a now defunct college football video game. Dreams and a video game controller can only take teams so far.
The Broncos and Cougars will be meeting up in real life–irl as the kids say these days–on Saturday night on the blue turf in Boise.
For Boise State, the Broncos will be looking to end a two-game losing streak at home. Boise State is eager to get back to winning ways at home. If not for the program’s sake, then to simply re-establish that opposing teams coming into Albertsons Stadium will need to respect the Broncos.
Washington State, meanwhile, will be looking to put another season-opening loss to an FCS school behind them.
The teams will be facing off for the fifth time in their history, with the Cougars holding a 4-0 advantage.
Since their last meeting over fifteen years ago, the two programs have traveled in different directions.
Boise State is owner of multiple conference championships, three Fiesta Bowl victories, and has been one of the top programs in college football.
The Cougars have faced quite the different battle in that span. They won their first bowl game since 2003 last season, but suffered through a 9-40 record in the years 2008-11.
This season’s match-up promises to be a game of dueling offenses. Boise State racked up 584 yards in their 45-10 victory over Louisiana Lafayette Saturday. Brett Rypien threw for 347 yards, Thomas Sperbeck and Cedric Wilson each had over 100 yards receiving and Jeremy McNichols scored three touchdowns.
Despite losing 45-42 to Eastern Washington, the Cougars managed over 500 yards of total offense. Quarterback Luke Falk was 41-51 for 418 yards while wide receiver Gabe Marks had 10 receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
The stats for the Cougars mirror what they did last season. The offense averaged 31.5 points/gm. Falk completed 69.4% of his passes while throwing for 4,561 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Marks was the top receiver last season, hauling in 104 receptions for 1,192 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Gerard Wicks was the top rusher last season. He ran for 610 yards on 107 carries. Wicks ran for 52 yards and one touchdown in the season-opening loss.
The offense can score in bunches for the Cougars, but the defense likes to give those points right back. They allowed 27.7 points per game last season while collecting 13 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.
Against Eastern Washington, the Cougars defense gave up 606 yards, 496 of which came through the air. Of note, starting safety Shalom Luani missed the game due to his serving of a suspension for an off-field altercation. Luani had four interceptions and amassed 90 tackles last season.
A top player to watch is junior linebacker Peyton Pueller (#47). Pueller had 10 tackles in the first game and led the Cougars last season with 101 tackles, including 11 for loss.
Road games did not seem to faze the Cougars last season, going 4-2 with victories over UCLA and Oregon.
The young secondary for Boise State will definitely be seeing more of a test than they did last week. The probable return of Chanceller James should help provide depth, but Cameron Hartsfield and Evan Tyler performed well in their first starts.
All signs appear to be pointing to a night of fireworks in Boise. It could very well come down to what team makes the last stop (similar to the classic four-overtime game against Nevada).
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that and Boise State can walk away with another victory over a Pac-12 team, adding to their ever-growing collection.
Then, the commissioner of the Pac-12 will come calling, fulfilling the prophecy of my video game from long ago.
One can dream. Right?
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 pm on Saturday, September 10 and will be televised on ESPN2.