PROVO, Utah — Losing at home is one thing. Getting beat 51-17 is another.
But the opposing team celebrating by taking a team picture on the field with the scoreboard in the background? That doesn’t go unnoticed.
The BYU Cougars came into Albertsons Stadium and did just that last season, commemorating a 34-point blowout on The Blue by gathering together for a photo near the end zone.
“The first thing that comes to mind is what happened last year,” Boise State linebacker Ezekiel Noa said. “That was unacceptable last year and we have our chance to compete again against BYU. We know they are a great team and we accept the challenge.
“A lot of us remember it and we do take it personal. This is a huge game for us.”
Boise State gets its shot at revenge Saturday at 1:30 p.m. when the Broncos travel to Provo to play the Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Broncos have plenty of reasons for motivation — starting with an unwanted 2-3 record through five games this season. But a 28-25 loss at BYU two years ago and the lingering feelings from the 51-17 loss at home last year have served as extra fuel to the fire this week.
“Of course,” EDGE rusher Isaiah Bagnah said. “That leaves a little chip on my shoulder definitely, especially on The Blue for that to happen. It doesn’t feel good obviously and it’s stuck in the back of our heads. It’s definitely motivation coming into this week.”
It’s not the first time an opposing team took a photo after beating Boise State on The Blue. In 2015, New Mexico did the same thing after winning 31-24 despite being 30-point underdogs.
The following year when a similarly peeved Boise State team went on the road to Albuquerque with the picture still on their minds? The Broncos returned the favor with a 49-21 blowout win over the Lobos.
Boise State certainly is hoping for a repeat Saturday in Provo.
“We’re hungry,” left tackle John Ojukwu said. “We want to get the job done this week.”
It will certainly be a tougher task than going to win at New Mexico. Boise State enters as decisive underdogs against the undefeated and 10th-ranked Cougars. Boise State is just 2-3 all-time while playing in Provo and has lost three of its past four games there.
“That’s what Boise State came up as, so we love that. We love the underdog mentality,” Ojukwu said.
Not many expect the Broncos to win on Saturday. It’s been 20 years — Oct. 19, 2001, to be exact — since the Broncos last beat a Top 10 team while being unranked themselves.
“With them being very highly ranked and us not ranked and with how we’ve been playing, a lot of people are going to pick them,” defensive tackle Scott Matlock said. “And that’s fine. Who cares. Let’s go out there and play a game of football where anybody can be beat at any time.”
BYU and Boise State will end a 12-year scheduling agreement in 2023. A new 10-year deal for an annual game is slated to begin in 2025, but the status of that remains unknown with BYU’s pending move to join the Big 12 Conference.
Aside from last year’s blowout the series has featured several close games and incredible finishes. Three of the 11 all-time meetings between the two teams have been decided by one point, while two others were decided by five points or less.
And that doesn’t even count the ‘Mangum Miracle’ game in 2015 when BYU scored on a Hail Mary in the final seconds at home to take the lead and then added a pick-six to widen the final margin.
“It’s a huge game,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “Regionally it’s a huge rivalry game. It’s always a physical, physical game. They’ve got an unbelievably physical team year in and year out. (Coach Kelani Sitake) has done a tremendous job.”
Boise State holds a 7-4 all-time record against BYU. But the Cougars were ranked No. 9 in last year’s matchup and are No. 10 in both polls this time around.
The Cougars are led by running back Tyler Allgeier, who is the No. 9 rusher in the nation at 113.8 yards per game on the ground. BYU also has a solid defense and already has wins over three Pac-12 teams in Utah, Arizona and Arizona State.
The Broncos, meanwhile, are looking to make something of what’s been a disappointing season to date. They’ve lost to the three best teams they’ve played — UCF, Oklahoma State and Nevada — and have wins over UTEP and Utah State.
Boise State hasn’t been 2-3 since 2001. The last time the Broncos were 2-4? How about 1997.
But despite the frustrating start to the season the Broncos have a chance for a big-time win on Saturday.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to get any easier,” Matlock said. “But everything we want to accomplish is still in front of us and that’s our focus right now.
“It’s a big game against a good team. We’re just going to go out there and try to play our brand of football.”
And who knows? Maybe there will be a picture to be taken afterwards.