"It's a rivalry and it's a big game for us and I'm sure it's a big game for them on their schedule. —Tanner Balderree
BYU (4-3) at No. 14 Boise State (6-0)
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. MDT Albertsons Stadium
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — While BYU and Boise State have only met six times, with the Broncos winning four of those games, a rivalry between the two programs is brewing.
There have been thrilling contests, like last year when the Cougars’ Tanner Mangum threw a game-winning touchdown pass late in the contest in Provo. Meanwhile, in two games at Albertsons Stadium, Boise State has beaten BYU by one point.
Another chapter in the budding rivalry will be added when the Cougars visit No. 14 Broncos Thursday (8:15 p.m., MDT, ESPN). BYU is looking for its first win in Boise.
“It’s definitely up there,” BYU quarterback and Pocatello native Taysom Hill said when asked to compare the Cougars’ rivalry with Boise State to other opponents. “They’re a good program; we’re a good program. There’s history at both places.”
“I think there is a rivalry there. We’re definitely looking forward to it, especially on a short week,” Boise State senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck told the Idaho Statesman. “I think we’re going to be prepared.”
There’s plenty of time for this rivalry to continue to intensify, too. The two schools are scheduled to meet every year through the 2023 season.
What makes this matchup even more intriguing is the fact that the Broncos are nationally ranked and undefeated (6-0).
“It’s someone we’ve consistently played and it’s been a back-and-forth battle," said BYU tight end Tanner Balderree. "It’s a rivalry and it’s a big game for us and I’m sure it’s a big game for them on their schedule.”
BYU coach Kalani Sitake made it clear this week how much he admires Boise State’s program.
“I have tons of respect for Boise. They have great, passionate fans, great program,” he said. “They’ve done great things as a team and the tradition that’s been established there the past couple of decades. We talk about playing the best, and they’re definitely up there. I’m really impressed with the things that they’ve done. We’re excited to go up there. It’s an honor to be in that place. It’s going to be loud and it will be packed. We’ll be excited and ready to face a quality team, one that’s ranked and undefeated and hopefully we can upset some people.”
One thing that concerns Boise State coach Bryan Harsin is the short turnaround on the schedule. While BYU defeated Mississippi State in double overtime late Friday night, Boise State held on to beat Colorado State late Saturday night.
“It’s another big challenge for us. We certainly have to get this thing turned around in a hurry and get prepared to play on Thursday,” Harsin said. “This is not very common. Not very popular when you have to turn around this quickly. It is what it is. You lose two days of recovery, two days of prep.”
Offensively, the Broncos are, as usual, a balanced team with the ability to explode.
Boise State sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,622 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. BSU ranks No. 8 nationally in pass efficiency. Running back Jeremy McNichols has run for 775 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Broncos are solid.
“They’re a good, physical defense,” Hill said. “Boise State is kind of notorious for mixing things up and giving us a lot of different looks. That’s what I expect. We welcome the challenge.”
Boise State defensive end Durrant Miles is a Bingham High product who served a mission to Bolivia. He didn’t play in last year’s game in Provo, but he’s looking forward to Thursday’s showdown.
“We take every opponent seriously each week,” Durrant told the Idaho Statesman, “but it’s something special when we play BYU.”
Boise State Broncos at a glance
Conference: Mountain West
Head coach: Brian Harsin (27-6, 4 years at Boise State; 34-11 overall)
Offense: Sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien has completed 112 of 180 passes for 1,622 yards with three interceptions and 12 touchdowns.
Defense: Senior linebacker Daren Lee has 36 total tackles, including six tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks.
Special teams: Senior punter Sean Wale averages 45 yards per punt and has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line nine times.
Series with BYU: Boise State leads, 4-2.