Maybe we should have seen this coming. In only its second football game as a four-year school, Boise State pounded Westminster College 50-2 in 1968.
Lately, the Broncos have been making a bunch of other Utah schools look bad.
When the BYU Cougars visit Bronco Stadium in Boise, they’ll be trying to break a 19-game losing streak that’s partly their own doing. The rest of the responsibility is shared among four other programs in a state that claims to play high-level college football.
Just not against the Broncos, obviously.
Clearly, something has to change, for the sake of our state’s football reputation. I’m guaranteeing that will happen — sometime during the scheduled 12-game series between BYU and Boise State that’s launched Thursday.
This statewide embarrassment has gone on long enough, right?
“I bet if you went through the 50 states, [BSU] would be something-and-0 against a lot of the 50 states,” said BYU quarterback Riley Nelson.
His underlying premise is sound, considering that since 1998 when this 19-0 run against Utah schools began, the Broncos have won 84.5 percent of their games (153-28).
But they’re only 2-4 against Washington schools, 2-2 vs. Arkansas teams and 11-5 vs. Texas schools in that stretch.
The Utah teams’ record is somewhat skewed by the 10 games involving Utah State, all prior to 2011, when coach Gary Andersen’s revival took hold.
It’s also true that LaVell Edwards, Urban Meyer and Bronco Mendenhall have never faced Boise State as head coaches, although Mendenhall went against the Broncos twice as a defensive coordinator and BYU gave up 78 points.
For all of his success, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is 0-4 against BSU as a defensive coordinator and head coach, with the Utes allowing an average of nearly 30 points.
BSU’s most recent loss to a Utah school came in 1997. In the Broncos’ second season at the level now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision, they lost 24-20 as USU coach John L. Smith beat Houston Nutt in Logan.
And that took some work. Boise State had gone ahead with 2:51 remaining, before quarterback Matthew Sauk rallied the Aggies with a touchdown drive that ended with his 19-yard pass to Nakia Jenkins.
“I’m surprised I remember that, because I forgot a lot of stuff,” said Sauk, now the Utah Blaze’s offensive coordinator, describing the fade pattern to the north end zone of Romney Stadium.
Since then, the Broncos have become a college football phenomenon. “The thing that really separated them is they got good coaches and they kept those coaches a certain amount of years,” Sauk said. “That makes a difference.”
Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen have combined to go 19-0 against Utah schools, and only Hawkins came close to losing. In Boise, BYU kicker Matt Payne’s 38-yard attempt sailed barely wide left in a 28-27 defeat, one of a series of games that could have saved coach Gary Crowton’s job in 2004.
The most embarrassing loss for a Utah school in this period has to be BYU’s 50-12 defeat on a Thursday night in Provo in ’03. But there’s competition from USU’s 52-0 loss in ’07 and Utah’s 36-3 debacle the previous year, when quarterback Brett Ratliff delivered five completions and three interceptions.
Nelson undoubtedly will improve on that performance and exceed his own showing as a Utah State freshman in ’06, when he completed 6 of 15 passes for 40 yards in a 49-10 loss. He remembers thinking as an 18-year-old, “Wow, I am not quite ready to play against these guys.”
He’s much better prepared now, with a far better team around him. But there’s still a lot of Utah history for BYU to overcome in Boise.
Boise State’s 19-game winning streak against Utah schools:
Year Opponent Score Comment
1998 @Utah 31-28 Broncos drive 99 yards for winning TD
1998 Weber State 24-13 Backup QB throws three TD passes
1998 Utah State 30-16 Two INT returns for TDs in last 2:09
1999 Southern Utah 35-27 Thunderbirds score 14 late points
1999 Utah 26-20 BSU ruins another 3-0 Ute start
1999 @Utah State 33-27 Broncos overcome Demario Brown’s 239 yards
2000 Utah State 66-38 BSU wins Big West title with 641 yards
2002 Utah State 63-38 Improbably, third quarter is scoreless
2003 @BYU 50-12 Score at one point is 28-4
2004 BYU 28-27 John Beck’s 390 passing yards not enough
2005 @Utah State 45-21 BSU’s Jared Zabransky: 328 yards, 4 TDs
2006 @Utah 36-3 Utah’s Brett Ratliff: 5 of 21, 3 INTs
2006 Utah State 49-10 BSU covers 37.5-point spread vs. Nelson
2007 Weber State 56-7 Broncos lead 49-0 at halftime
2007 @Utah State 52-0 Loss is USU’s 16th in a row over 2 seasons
2008 Utah State 49-14 Two BSU receivers throw TD passes
2009 @Utah State 52-21 Broncos score 21 points in 5 minutes of 2Q
2010 Utah State 50-14 BSU recovers from tough loss to Nevada
2010 Utah 26-3 Doug Martin’s 84-yard run busts open Vegas Bowl
BSU records, by coach • Chris Petersen 8-0, Dirk Koetter 7-0, Dan Hawkins 4-0.
Utah schools’ records, by coach • Brent Guy 0-4, Ron McBride* 0-3, Kyle Whittingham 0-2, Dave Arslanian 0-2, Mick Dennehy 0-2, Gary Andersen 0-2, Gary Crowton 0-2, C. Ray Gregory 0-1, Jerry Graybeal 0-1.
*McBride’s record includes two games with Utah and one with Weber State.