Boise St San Jose St Football

San Jose State wide receiver Bailey Gaither, right, catches a pass against Boise State cornerback Jalen Walker (15) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, in San Jose, Calif., Saturday.

BOISE — The Boise State football team found itself in an unexpected dogfight last Saturday at San Jose State.

And that’s why the Broncos can’t afford to take anybody lightly down the stretch.

Most fans and media didn’t expect the game to be close — neither did Vegas oddsmakers, who tabbed the Broncos as 16-point favorites — but there were the Broncos trailing heading into the fourth quarter. They eventually pulled out a 52-42 win, but it was anything but easy against a team that went 3-22 during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Why was the game so close? For starters, San Jose State is better than most realize, but the Spartans also had an easier time getting fired up for the game. To them, it was one of the biggest on their schedule all season. To the Broncos, it was just another game.

It’s a scenario the Broncos face on a weekly basis and will surely encounter this week against Wyoming. The Broncos are double-digit favorites to beat the Cowboys, but will be playing a team treating the game like the Super Bowl.

Boise State is the game and week that most opponents circle and look forward to all season. And that means they typically get their best shot. The hope for the Broncos in the final four weeks of the regular season is that they can find a way to treat each game the same way.

“This is our Super Bowl coming up and if our guys don’t think about it like that, that’s the problem,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “When you don’t think about every single week as your Super Bowl, I don’t care who you are playing, then you have a problem as a team. Yes, we’re going to get everybody’s best. But why aren’t we? Why wouldn’t we give everybody our best?

“Why don’t we get up for every single game we go out there and play? To me that’s crazy. These guys pay attention, they are on social media and they pay attention to what’s being said out there and things like that, which is absolutely wrong for them to be doing that.”

Harsin referenced that most fans and media members expected the Broncos to “blow these guys out” and that the “perception” was that the Spartans weren’t a good team.

“They were 100 times better than what they’ve been,” Harsin said.

The Broncos got off to a slow start and trailed 14-0. They didn’t take their first lead until late in the third quarter. They did enough to win the game, but might not be as lucky should they fall behind a better team like Wyoming.

And Saturday’s 8:15 p.m. matchup with the Cowboys at Albertsons Stadium is certainly a game the Broncos can’t afford to overlook. Wyoming (6-2) would own the head-to-head tiebreaker and move into first place in the Mountain Division with a win.

INJURED TRIO EXPECTED BACK

Harsin said those that missed last week’s game at San Jose State due to injury should play Saturday against Wyoming. Without getting specific, he would seem to be referring to running back Robert Mahone, safety Kekoa Nawahine and left guard John Molchon. All three missed the San Jose State game due to undisclosed injuries.

“Expect them to play in this game,” Harsin said simply.

FIRST CFP RANKINGS TO DEBUT TUESDAY

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The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday night between games of the college basketball Champions Classic, which should be roughly 7 p.m. MT. Harsin was unaware the rankings began this week, but said he was eager to see where the Broncos stand among the other Group of Five teams.

Where the Broncos are slotted with the other Group of Five teams including Memphis, Cincinnati and SMU will be notable. The top ranked Group of Five team at the end of the year will land a spot in the Cotton Bowl.

“Sure, I’ll pay attention to it,” Harsin said. “We’ll see how that whole thing lays out. But right now every coach would say this, the early preseason rankings, think about the teams that were ranked and now aren’t ranked. There were a bunch that were that aren’t anymore and some now that weren’t, so what does that matter at this point?

“There’s a lot more football left to be played, There’s going to be some crazy things that happen, everybody is going to move around. … At the end of it, we’ll see what happens.”

The rankings will be released every Tuesday through the rest of the season.

HOLANI, WILLIAMS EARN PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS

Boise State running back George Holani was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week Monday, while punt returner Avery Williams was named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week.

Holani had 28 rushes for 126 yards and four touchdowns in Boise State’s 52-42 win at San Jose State last week. He’s the first true freshman to rush for four touchdowns in a game for Boise State since 1977, and just the second true freshman in program history ever to do it.

Williams had a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown in which he avoided multiple defenders before tip-toeing his way down the sideline and into the end zone.

ANOTHER LATE START FOR NEW MEXICO GAME

Boise State’s final home game of the year on Nov. 16 against New Mexico will start at 8:15 p.m. and air nationally on ESPN2, the school announced Monday. It will be the seventh game to start after 8 p.m. this season, with an eighth scheduled for the following week at Utah State.

There was some hope the Broncos would get a little bit earlier start time for the Senior Night game, but the school announced around Noon Monday that it would be another 8:15 p.m. start. The news means all six of Boise State’s home games will start at 7 p.m. or later, with four of the six being at 8:15 p.m.

The Broncos will play 10 of 12 games at 7 p.m. or later, which is a program record.

QUARTERBACKS TO SPEAK WITH MEDIA

Boise State announced Monday that quarterbacks Hank Bachmeier, Chase Cord and Jaylon Henderson will all be permitted to speak with the media this week. The Broncos haven’t made any quarterbacks available to the media since March. Bachmeier is scheduled to talk Tuesday, Cord on Wednesday and Henderson on Thursday.

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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