Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Boise State safety Kekoa Nawahine intercepts a pass against BYU in Provo on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.

BOISE — BYU and Boise State have met only eight times on the football field, but it’s clearly become a rivalry.

“There have been some really close games. Also, even though we’re not in the same state, we have a lot of fans in Idaho,” Cougar coach Kalani Sitake explained. “They’ve had a lot of success. Maybe them being on the schedule more consistently has made it that way. There are three teams that we feel like are on the schedule more than others year-to-year — Utah, Boise and Utah State.”

The Broncos and Cougars collide Saturday night in Boise.

" This is a big-time game. Obviously, it’s not the BYU-Utah rivalry, but to us, it’s a big rivalry game. "
BYU tight end Matt Bushman

“It’s two historic programs. Boise State always puts a good product on the field. They’re always a very good team and very disciplined. They always play close to their potential. They’re a tough team,” said BYU safety Tanner Jacobson. “We have our goals — win the rivalries. As a team, we consider Boise State to be a rivalry. There’s a little extra juice to it. It’s usually a close game or a couple of games that decides the outcome. We’re excited.”

Cougar tight end Matt Bushman agreed.

“This is a big game. Boise State is a great team. This is a big-time game. Obviously, it’s not the BYU-Utah rivalry, but to us, it’s a big rivalry game,” he said. “It’s a huge game that we’ve got to win. They’ve gotten us the past couple of years. We’ve got to compete and hopefully we come out with the win.”

BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes coached at Boise State in 2000.

“There a lot of guys on the staff that I know and maintain friendships with,” he said. “It means a lot to me that we play well.”

Offensive lineman Tristen Hoge, who hails from Pocatello, played his final high school game in a state title contest at Boise State.

Does he regard Boise State as a rival?

“Of course, especially since they’re so close,” Hoge said. “The proximity between each other and just because there’s a lot of rich history there. Everybody treats it as a rivalry, so of course, it’s a big rivalry for us.”

WILSON’S FIRST ROAD START: BYU true freshman quarterback Zach Wilson will make his first career start on the road Saturday.

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“He didn’t play but he was with us during those early games on the road at Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington,” said Cougar quarterback Aaron Roderick. “I don’t think he’ll be overwhelmed by the fact that we’re on the road. But he does have to be prepared because we’re playing a really good team. Boise State is an excellent defense and they score a lot of points on offense. It’s a tough job this week. I’m not concerned about it being a road game. We prepare the same no matter what.”