Eight years ago, the Oklahoma Sooners didn’t believe, and Boise State beat them in the Fiesta Bowl. This year, the Arizona Wildcats didn’t get the message, either. Boise State is once again legit, taking down Arizona 38-30 in the Fiesta Bowl and finishing the season 12-2. The Mountain West Conference champions opened a big lead early and then held on to knock off the Wildcats, who were contenders in the very tough Pac-12 for much of the season.
Through three different coaches, from Dan Hawkins to Chris Petersen to now Bryan Harsin, the Broncos have won 10 conference championships over the last 14 seasons, moving from the old WAC to the Mountain West in the process. When Hawkins left, people thought okay, Boise State is a nice story, but they’re done. After all, Hawkins went 53-11 in five years at Boise. How do you replace that?
Then Petersen took over and blew Hawkins’ records out of the water. In eight years with him at the helm, the Broncos went an incredible 92-12, winning the Fiesta Bowl twice (they beat TCU along with Oklahoma). Acknowledged as one of the great minds in the game, Petersen stayed in Boise longer than probably most thought he would have or should have, before finally leaving for Washington this past offseason.
Surely, Petersen’s departure would finally spell the end of Boise State’s national relevance. And while the Broncos weren’t a consideration for the playoff given losses early in the season to Mississippi and Air Force, Boise State recovered to win the Mountain West, winning at least 10 games for the 13th time in 16 years.
Each big-time bowl win like this Fiesta Bowl triumph adds to the legend of how Boise State built a successful program seemingly out of nothing, while reaffirming that any thoughts of the Broncos going by the wayside under new management were in error. This win also serves as a boost to Boise State recruiting, as high school talents can trust that the Br0ncos will continue to be a factor nationally, stay on TV and provide the kind of exposure recruits are looking for.
Boise State has a tasty non-conference schedule slated for 2015, with road games at BYU and Virginia, the latter representing a very rare trip east for the Broncos. Oh, and there’s also a home game against Petersen’s Huskies. You can go ahead and put that game into Saturday primetime on ESPN for most of the country to watch; Boise State has earned that level of respect, and they showed why by once again capturing the Fiesta Bowl.