BOISE — The Boise State football team’s seniors have already become the 12th straight graduating class to win at least 40 games during their four years in Boise.
But that doesn’t mean they are satisfied.
Having already lost three games for the first time since 2007, the Broncos — and in particular the 16 seniors — hope to salvage an injury-plagued season by reaching the Mountain West championship game with wins in their final three games.
Winning a conference championship, a postseason bowl game and finishing with an 11-3 record would all of a sudden turn a difficult season into an impressive one. And the Broncos are hoping to finish strong and make it happen.
“This is exactly what we want,” senior offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “We put ourselves in position to be here and we’re going to accept it and do the best we possibly can and get these three, and hopefully set ourselves up for a quality opponent in the championship and a good bowl game.”
Only 22 schools in the country entered the 2013 season with fewer seniors than Boise State. But the Broncos’ current group hopes to make up for a rare 5-3 start — the first time since 2001 that a Boise State team started with three losses in its first eight games — and go out on a positive note.
To reach the inaugural conference title game, the Broncos need to beat Wyoming on Saturday and get wins at San Diego State on Nov. 23 and at home vs. New Mexico on Nov. 30. Should Utah State lose one of its remaining games, the Broncos could lose a game and still reach the championship.
And with the end of their Boise State careers staring them in the face, the team’s seniors appears to be entering the final three-game stretch with an added sense of urgency.
“Those guys get it as much as anybody,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “It kind of filters up. The young guys have no clue. They are just trying to survive and get from day to day where the seniors, I do think, appreciate their days here and have for a while.
“You’ve worked an entire year really for these last three weeks. There’s still a lot to play for. … It’s very easy to be worn down by a long season, a lot of injuries, all these types of things, but really, that’s how football goes, and those teams that can really stay focused and be excited about this time of year are the teams that can come out and play well.”
Two of the three remaining regular-season games will be at Bronco Stadium, beginning with Saturday’s 8:21 p.m. kickoff against Wyoming. It will be Boise State’s first home game since Oct. 19. The Broncos are 83-4 at Bronco Stadium since the start of the 2000 season.
“We like to focus on one game at a time but we have to win out to control our own destiny, and we do control our own destiny. So, as long as we continue doing our job, we can achieve our goals,” senior center Matt Paradis said. “It’s huge. No one wants to finish poorly. We want to use every opportunity left to play to our best ability.
“It’s something (offensive line coach Chris) Strausser pointed out the other day. Not counting a bowl game or anything, we only have nine practices left this season and we’re just kind of refocused on using every opportunity to improve that we have left.”