Boise State Football Game – Boise, ID
We came for the blue field. Well, that and a football game of course. Boise State being in the middle of most college football conversations right now, it was a great time to check out the Broncos. Boise State went into the game rated #5 in the country, and are at the center of both conference realignment talks as well as the college football playoff discussions. Fans we talked to couldn’t agree on which conference they wanted to be in (although most wanted desperately to be in a future Pac-16) or whether or not they wanted a playoff system in college football (most did, but other knew that they had a better chance of winning a one-off bowl game). But they all had the same conclusion: “We just want to have a chance to play for the National Championship”.
When college football conferences were made, it was clearly a geographical thing. But now it’s become more of a status symbol, and Boise State clearly needs to be in a conference with a higher status. Their willingness to play a tough out-of-conference schedule (always on the road) and their recent wins in BCS bowl games (to which tons of BSU fans have traveled) have helped them, but fans want more. “We tired of beating teams by 50 points. We want to be able to play some better competition, and actually have them come play us here in Boise”, one fan said.
In my opinion, a few factors would help them achieve that goal. First, they need to finish their stadium. Right now, it’s basically two sided, with the end zones having temporary seats for game days. The number of fans sitting outside of the stadium watching the game on tailgate televisions was astounding. They could double the size of the stadium and still fill it to capacity.
Then, they should take the risk and go independent in football for 5 years, until the conference picture settles down a bit.
They can control their own schedule, and finally be able to convince the naysayers that they belong. They might have some trouble getting teams to come to Boise to play against them, but I think they’ve made it to a level where beating the Broncos on the blue turf comes with some cache. Not to mention the number of fans around the country who’d be willing to come see their team on the famous “Smurf Turf”. After a short period of independence, the current Pac-12 will most likely be looking to grow to the Pac-16, and Boise State would be their best addition. Then not only would fans get to see some better competition, but the Broncos would finally have a chance to play for the National Championship.
Back to the game itself. Boise State was taking on the Air Force Falcons in a Mountain West Conference game. Thankfully (for both ourselves and for television viewers), the MWC forced the Broncos out of their traditional blue-on-blue uniforms while playing on the blue field, which meant that we could actually see the players rather than having them blend into the turf. It was our first time seeing a game including a service academy, and the crowd was fervent, yet respectful, with wild applause for each mention of enlisted and veteran Air Force members in attendance.
Air Force runs an option-based offense, which is a rarity in college football these days. It’s hard to defend, and eats up a lot of the clock, as it’s mostly a running offense. They ran it to perfection Saturday, controlling the clock nearly the entire game. Boise scored on almost every one of their offensive possessions, but the game was certainly closer than most fans wanted it to be. A blocked punt returned for a touchdown right before halftime put the Broncos ahead for good, and the second half was filled with back and forth scoring from both teams. Once Boise State got ahead, it was tough for the Falcons to to come back, as they’re not a passing team. It wasn’t quite the game most fans had expected, but they stayed until the end of the game and were happy to get the win.
But as great as our experience inside the stadium was, the real story that emerged from our football Saturday was the city of Boise itself. We expected a small farming town with a fanatical, religious-like support of the Boise State Broncos. While their enthusiasm for BSU football met our expectations, the city of Boise and its people more than exceeded them.
After taking in the Homecoming Parade in the morning, we made our way over to the stadium parking lot to survey the tailgate scenery. We saw nearly every version of a Boise State pop-up tent imaginable, painted/converted vans and trucks covered in logos, and everyone had their own unique “game day” attire. After taking group pictures and mingling with a few tailgaters, we were summoned into the “TTTT” area, complete with their very own tailgating flag. We quickly found out the two of the T’s stood for “Tequila Tailgate”, with the other two T’s left up to your own interpretation. As we had already come to find out elsewhere in Boise, these tailgaters included us into their group, and made sure that we were well taken care of. There we met Mike, who introduced us to everyone at the tailgate, as well as passers by whom he recognized. We even got our first “I know you! I saw you on TV!” during the tailgate. We also met Mike’s father, who impressed us not only with his knowledge of Boise and dedication to the Broncos (he’s been tailgating there since the stadium was built, and remembers being at the very first game), but also with his choice of tailgating drink-ware, named “Priscilla”.
As their tailgate name might suggest, this group had a passion for not only Boise State football, but also for high end tequila. Their routine is to give a toasts throughout the tailgate, where one would sip the tequila followed by their homemade sangrita (basically bloody mary mix with a twist and a kick). This isn’t your college tequila though, as we were told numerous times that it was meant to be sipped. Being the gracious hosts that they were, we were even allowed to give one of the toasts that fine morning:
We’re beginning to notice a pattern. We arrive at places, ready to take in their unique sporting culture, and find ourselves surrounded by incredibly wonderful people who end up making as large an impression as their event. We arrived assuming we’d be wowed by the field and the Broncos, but the hospitality we encountered made our visit to Boise even more memorable.