When Chris Petersen was head coach at Boise State, he liked playing Power Five programs so he could beat them. Even though he’s now the coach at Washington, he still had a big hand in this season’s schedule for the Broncos. That means he must look at Week 1 and shake his head.
In the opening week of the 2015 college football season, Petersen’s former team will host his current team. Yep, it’s Boise State against Washington on Boise’s famous blue turf field. He’ll be coaching in the game like he expected, but he’ll be on the visitor’s sideline for the first time, and it will be a very odd experience.
It’s a key game for both programs in terms of season aspirations, but it’s much bigger on a personal level. Boise State would like nothing better than to show Petersen he shouldn’t have left, and Petersen wants to prove to himself that he didn’t. The game will be a frenzy of football paparazzi, trying to capture Petersen’s thoughts and experience from the moment the Huskies arrive in Boise.
I also expect that Petersen will have mixed feelings about this game. While he’s moved to Seattle and committed himself to improving the Huskies fortunes, he has to look at what Boise State did this year without him and be proud. The Broncos got the non-AQ automatic invitation to a New Year’s Six Bowl game and beat the Arizona Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl, a virtual home game for UA.
Petersen wants Boise State to be good, but he doesn’t want them to be good enough that they beat two Pac-12 teams in a row.
Several months out, it seems like this should be a close game. Each team knows the other’s playbook pretty well, because it’s pretty much the same playbook. Petersen knows Boise State’s players because he recruited most of them. The real fun in this one won’t be the game itself, but rather the buildup. Starting in spring practice, coaches and players will be peppered with questions about the season opener. They’ll all say the right things, but you know this game means a lot to both sides.