BOISE — Andy Avalos was a linebacker at Boise State the last time the Broncos started a season 2-3 back in 2001.
He remembers what happened next.
The Broncos went 6-1 to finish the season, including an upset of No. 8 Fresno State on the road in a game many point to as the turning point for Boise State’s rise to national prominence the past two decades.
After the 2-3 start, the Broncos went 44-4 in their next 48 games through the end of the 2004 season and won three WAC championships in each of the next three years.
“Well 2-3 is not the standard,” Avalos said. “It’s been a while. But have I been a part of a Boise State team in this position? Yeah, I have, and tremendous things have come from it. I’ll say that right out of the gates. We’re always going to keep perspective. We have everything sitting right in front of us this season.”
Two of Boise State’s three losses were nonconference games and have no impact on the Mountain West race. A 41-31 home loss to Nevada last week left the Broncos with little margin for error, but they still control their own destiny. Wins in the final seven Mountain West games would assure the Broncos a spot in the title game — and maybe a rematch with Nevada.
Another rallying cry for the Broncos? The Broncos could and probably should have beaten both UCF and Oklahoma State and were beating Nevada before three second-half turnovers doomed them.
If they ranked the best 2-3 teams in the country, Boise State feels it would be near the top of the list.
“The guys are sitting in here like we have so many things we can do better — from the guys, the coaches, the players, everybody,” Avalos said. “The season is still left in front of us. The unbelievable thing is we have a lot of conference games left. We have this huge game before we get back and finish our conference games, but our goals are still out in front of us that we can reach.”
Boise State finishes the nonconference schedule Saturday at BYU at 1:30 p.m. on ABC. The Cougars (5-0) are ranked No. 10 in the country and the Broncos are just 1-3 in their last four trips to Provo.
Should the Broncos lose they’d drop to 2-4 for the first time since they were 1-4 to start the 1997 season.
Avalos said he met with the 15-player leadership group on Sunday and was encouraged about Boise State’s outlook after what he heard and saw. The leadership group, which is voted on by everyone in the building, features at least one player from each position.
“These guys are unbelievable,” Avalos said. “The 15 leaders in the leadership meeting are unbelievable. We could have been in there for five hours talking about things and their belief on where they want to go from here and how they want to finish the season.”
It’s been 20 years since Boise State last was in this position. But how the Broncos have handled it, Avalos said, gives him hope for the future.
“It makes you feel really grateful to be part of something even during these tough times,” Avalos said. “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”