BOISE — Only one BYU player knows what it's like to play at Bronco Stadium.

Quarterback Riley Nelson started for Utah State as a freshman in 2006 when Boise State pounded the Aggies in Boise, 49-10.

What does Nelson — who returns to Bronco Stadium Thursday when the Cougars visit the Broncos — remember about that day?

"I remember it was very loud," he said. "We started out the game very similar to the way we started the Utah game (last Saturday) — we started off with three straight false starts."

He also recalled a "bad glare" off the Blue Turf for that afternoon game.

"They were a good football team. I remember having moments thinking, as a young, 18-year-old kid, 'Wow, I'm not quite ready to play with these guys.' I was giving it my best and trying my hardest, but those guys were playing on a different level than I was. Six years later, I definitely feel like we can not only play with them, but have a chance to beat them."

In 2006, Nelson rushed nine times for 45 yards against the Broncos and completed 6-of-15 passes for 40 yards and one interception.

Last December, he attended the Idaho Bowl in Boise between Utah State and Ohio.

"There were more Boise fans than Ohio or Utah State fans," Nelson said. "So I know they love football. I know they're passionate about their Broncos. It says a lot about their home environment and their football program. Coach (Chris) Petersen is very well respected. Every time I've heard him speak, he seems to me to be a guy that I would follow. I admire him for what he's done for that program."

TICKETS HARD TO COME BY: This week, Nelson has been trying to find tickets for relatives that want to attend Thursday's game.

"I know it's a tough ticket, because I have a lot of family that wants to go, so I've been looking for some extra tickets and there aren't many available," Nelson said. "That's not just from BYU's end. I know the Boise State fans come out in masses. They love their Broncos and they fill their stadium week-in and week-out. It really doesn't matter who the opponent is. It's going to be a fun game and a fun environment. It's fun to be on a national stage to be the only game on TV that night. We're looking forward to it."

Backup quarterback Taysom Hill, who hails from Pocatello, was recruited by Boise State. While he's never played in or watched a game at Bronco Stadium, he played some high school games in Boise.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I've had various friends and family call me up wanting tickets to watch the game. I have friends that are in Boise now. It will be fun to be back up there."

DEFENSIVE CHALLENGE: BYU's defense has held its last nine opponents to under 300 yards of total offense.

Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall knows Boise State's offense will be a stiff test.

"They're really good," he said. "There are many, many different formations, all kinds of shifts, and motions, and multiple balls going to multiple players. Half the work is just getting lined up to what they do at the tempo that they do it."