It's game day, which means it is time to clean out the notebook and post some of the best things BYU players and coaches and opposing coaches had to say this week about the game.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium as a pair of 5-2 teams, BYU and Boise State, play in front of a national television audience (ESPN) that won't be distracted by the World Series or any other major sporting event across the country. The spotlight is clearly on the Cougars and Broncos tonight.
Here's my advance of the game, which focuses on BYU's futility streak against Boise State -- the Cougars are 0-3 -- and the state of Utah's 21-game losing streak to the Broncos. Utah State has accounted for 12 of those losses, but the streak is amazing nevertheless.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill grew up in Idaho, graduating from Pocatello's Highland High School, but said the streak won't be on his mind tonight.
"Look, I don't think about how Utah hasn't beaten Boise State in a long time, or whatever the record is. I want to win the football game. Boise State is a good program, and I have got a lot of respect for them. But I want to beat Boise State. I want to win. And it is not any different than it would be any other game. I don't want to win more than I wanted to win last week. That's just who I am."
Hill said he considered Boise State "a little bit" in the recruiting process before committing to Stanford.
"But nothing [major]," he said. "I was never really intrigued by them. Again, I have a lot of respect for Boise State, but I feel like I wanted to get out of state."
Of course, Hill entered last year's game in Boise in the second half in relief of Riley Nelson and almost pulled out the win. His memories?
"We played the field position game, and then ultimately we led a big touchdown drive of over 90 yards, and that gave us an opportunity to win the game. We came up a little short. Look, I remember that feeling, and it is something that I don't want to feel again."
Has he improved since then?
"Yeah, the game has slowed down a lot for me," Hill said. "It has been a unique transition, going into this year with the new offensive staff and offense. So that has been unique, and it has taken a little bit of getting used to, but I've grown and I've matured and I am a better football player than when they last saw me."
Defensive back Mike Hague grew up in Utah, attending Brighton High before joining the Cougars in 2006 (yes, 2006). But like Hill, he doesn't believe any state pride is on the line tonight. It's more about BYU pride, Hague said.
"They are a good football team. That's what I think," he said of Boise State. "I grew up watching them, just like anybody else from Utah. They've got a great fan base. They are a great football team, and they've got an awesome scheme. So 21 of them, I don't really care about that. This is the only one that really matters to me."
Hague's recollections of last year's 7-6 loss is that the defense didn't give up any points (Boise's touchdown came on a pick-six, made by a defensive lineman) and made a great goal line stand.
"And it was loud," he said. "I remember Ziggy [Ansah] kind of made his debut in that game, started to turn some heads, and I remember Taysom came in and played pretty well in that game. He has some momentum from that game into the Hawaii game the next week. It was a really good atmosphere. It is going to be cool, being on ESPN, and being the only game on Friday and having two non-BCS schools that are two of the most powerful non-BCS schools going against each other. That's a cool thing."
This is the second game of a 12-game series that BYU and Boise State agreed to a few years ago. I asked Boise State coach Chris Petersen during a teleconference Monday how he feels about the series, and whether it works for Boise State.
"Well, I will tell you this: You gotta kind of look at your schedule and see who else is on there," he said. "Because the one thing I know about BYU, is they are always going to be a really good opponent. We have played a couple of league games, and all of a sudden we got this really good opponent that is not in our league that we have to deal with. So that's hard. That is hard. But with that being said, everybody has so much respect for BYU around here, and it is such a good opponent, a lot of people like to see that game, so there is interest and all those types of things. For us, in some ways, it is a little bit of a double-edged sword, to play that good of an opponent, that is not in your league. Certainly for us, when you are playing them late [in the seaosn], that is kind of hard."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?
Petersen was asked why BYU and Boise State are already starting a rivalry, having played each other just three times despite being about 450 miles apart.
"I don't think it is any one thing. It is all of those things [proximity, LDS church members in Idaho, two of better programs in the West]. I think BYU has a great name. They are always known for playing good football. If anybody studies football, and know anything about good teams, they know BYU is sitting over there with a really good team, so they are interested in that. Yeah, so it is all those things that make it a big game."
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