The Oklahoma State Cowboys will do something they’ve never done Saturday when they visit Albertsons Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff on FOX Sports 1: they’ll play on blue turf.
In fact the Cowboys are the first Big 12 team to ever make the trip to Boise to play the Broncos in a regular season game.
“I felt like Gene Hackman in Hoosiers — I felt like taking a tape measure and making sure they know it’s 52.5 (yards) wide and 120 (yards) long,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy joked during his weekly press conference Monday.
Boise State made the trip to Stillwater in 2018 and suffered a 44-21 loss to the Cowboys. Now it’s Oklahoma State’s turn to finish the two-game series with the return game in Boise.
For nearly all of Oklahoma State’s roster, it will be the players’ first trip to the state of Idaho — and their first time playing on the famed blue turf.
“My personal opinion is that they have a unique situation there which I think is pretty cool what they did,” Gundy said of the blue turf, which was installed in 1986 by former athletic director Gene Bleymaier. “They kind of live in their own world out there, and they have their own way of thinking. They’ve been good at it and that was a neat addition for them in my opinion.
“I mean I’ve never been there and I don’t know a lot of people from there, but just as an outsider looking in, it’s pretty cool what they did. But the field needs to be the same for our guys and our preparation and focus and getting ready to play and competing out there should overcome the color of the turf.”
It’s a rare chance for the Broncos to welcome a Power 5 team to Boise. Scheduled games against Florida State and Michigan State were canceled, and fewer Power 5 teams are slated to come to Boise in the future. Oregon, Oregon State and Washington State currently are the only three Power 5 teams scheduled to play in Boise in future years.
BYU, Houston, UCF and Cincinnati — the four teams joining the Big 12 in two years — are all on the schedule but it’s unclear if those games will still go on as scheduled.
Oklahoma State is just the second Big 12 team to ever play the Broncos in Boise. Iowa State came for the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl and the Broncos won that one, 34-16.
Gundy knows what his group is getting into. The Broncos are 123-10 at home since 2000, the best home winning percentage in the country.
“They’ve done it for a long time,” Gundy said. “This is a really good football team. This team should be ranked. I haven’t seen the rankings, don’t look at it, but they are a top 25 team in my opinion.”
The Cowboys are 2-0 after less-than-impressive wins against Missouri State and Tulsa. They are ranked No. 23 in this week’s Coaches Poll.
Boise State (1-1) is coming off a 54-13 win over UTEP last week, and Gundy said he’s been impressed with the Broncos on both sides of the ball.
“Their defense looks just like our defense,” Gundy said. “Multiple coverages, blitz packages, zone blitz, they’ll play man, they’ll run some high (Cover) 2, they’ll play (Cover) 3 cloud. They look almost identical to us on defense, scheme-wise.
“Offensively Boise has had a history of using 11 and 12 personnel, some bunch sets. They do a lot of things, a lot of shifting, a lot of motion. They are very similar to what they’ve done for years in what they do. The quarterback’s a good player. They have wide outs that make plays and they are a well-coached football team.”
The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Oklahoma State offensive coordinator and associate head coach Kasey Dunn, who was a star wide receiver the University of Idaho and started his coaching career there.
Dunn still holds program records for career receptions (287) and career receiving yards (3,487) at Idaho after playing there from 1987-1991. He was a volunteer coach with the Vandals in 1993 and was elected to the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
“He likes Idaho,” Gundy said. “He’s from there and his wife’s from there. And he’s building a retirement home there I think, last I heard.”
Asked if Dunn has given any tips or suggestions on things to do while the team is in Boise, Gundy said, “I’m sure it’s a beautiful place up there, but I doubt we’ll get very far from them hotel.”
They’ll be sure to see the blue turf though. And a sellout crowd of 36,000-plus will be waiting for them.