SALT LAKE CITY — It’s rivalry week for BYU and Boise State.
“With Idaho off the schedule, back in FCS and a distant memory, there is a (rivalry) void. Maybe it is Saturday’s opponent, BYU,” Idaho Statesman sports writer Dave Southorn wrote in an article about the BYU-BSU showdown. “Considering the Broncos and Cougars have played for six straight seasons and are scheduled for five more beyond this season, it makes sense.”
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and the Broncos consider BYU a fun opponent to play regardless if you call them rivals.
“I don’t know ... but it’s a good game for us to play, for them to play, fans like it, it makes sense where we’re located, and we do recruit against each other,” Harsin told the Idaho paper. “If anything, it makes sense. I don’t know if that (makes) a rivalry or not.”
"In this region, this is a huge game," Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said at his press conference. "This is going to be one of the best atmospheres you'll ever play in, in this game."
Added senior quarterback Brett Rypien: “One, this is a rivalry game for us. We like playing them.”
But does BYU consider its northern neighbor a rival?
Definitely — right up there with Utah State and after Utah. The goals listed in the BYU football facility even list the Utes, Aggies and Broncos as teams to beat under a “Win The Rivalries” goal.
“They’re a rival to us, a game that means a lot to both programs,” BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki said in a phone interview with the Statesman. “Bronco (Mendenhall) always emphasized it, and now Coach Kalani (Sitake) feels the exact same way.”
Aside from pride, Boise State’s coach has 10,000 reasons to beat BYU this year. Harsin is paid a 10-grand bonus for home wins against the Cougars and a whopping $15,000 for victories at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Broncos might have some extra incentive now that Zach Wilson is taking the snaps for BYU. The freshman quarterback decommitted from Boise State a week before the national signing day and eventually landed in Provo. Running back Squally Canada was also a BSU commit once upon a time.
“That's just part of recruiting," Harsin told the Idaho Press. "There's guys we played against that we recruited I wouldn't say every game, but quite a few teams. That's just part of the process. It works both ways.”
The comments leading up to the BYU-Boise State game have been tamer this year compared to last year when former defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte pulled no punches. He admitted to having “a hatred” against the Cougars.17 comments on this story
“It’s an absolute animosity I have. They pretend they’re high and mighty, but they have some of the most grotesque trash talk I’ve ever heard. There’s an affinity for those types of hits, they try to hit you there when you’re on field-goal block, too.”
As the Deseret News reported in 2017, the English native played for Boise from 2012-16.
“I cannot stand them,” Hoyte said. “There’s some pent-up aggression there. I hate to say it, but if Boise State lost each game, as long as they beat the crap out of BYU, I’d be happy.”