No. 20 Boise State has already wrapped up a berth in the Mountain West championship game, so coach Bryan Harsin is ready to pull out the motivational tricks.
The truth is, the Broncos’ Friday road game against Colorado State has no bearing on the conference endeavors, but Harsin has found a nugget to wave in front of the troops.
The Broncos (10-1, 7-0) are in their ninth season in the Mountain West, and they have never notched an undefeated conference regular season.
“To have a chance to go undefeated in conference play for the first time in Mountain West history for Boise State, to me, that’s a challenge in itself,” Harsin said. “When you get a chance to talk about doing something for the first time, if that doesn’t fire you up as a competitor, something is wrong with you. …
“We’re not playing the championship game this week. We’re playing Colorado State.”
The Broncos clinched the Mountain Division crown last Saturday with a 56-21 steamrolling of Utah State. They will host West Division winner Hawaii in the Dec. 7 title game.
Staying sharp will be part of the focus against the Rams (4-7, 3-4). Dealing with the elements will be another, as the Fort Collins area is slated to receive more than a foot of snow this week.
As for the quarterback situation, Harsin sidestepped questions pertaining to whether fifth-year senior Jaylon Henderson would make his third straight start, or if true freshman Hank Bachmeier (shoulder) might play for just the second time since Oct. 12 or if sophomore Chase Cord (hand) could return for the first time since Nov. 9.
“No season-ending injuries. You can try and keep asking,” Harsin said. “Guys are all available to play. That’s where we are. One quarterback plays at a time, that’s the reality of it.”
Henderson was superb the past two weeks as Boise State averaged 49 points in routs of New Mexico and Utah State. He passed for three touchdowns in each game.
Harsin said Henderson’s performance was due to how he kept his preparation level high even when he was the third option.
“Jaylon’s performance against New Mexico told me he has just been sitting there waiting,” Harsin said of a 292-yard passing effort on Nov. 16. “And when he got the nod, let’s roll.”
Colorado State has nothing to play for — unless competing to keep coach Mike Bobo employed counts.
The fifth-year coach is 28-34 with the Rams but is just 7-16 over the past two seasons entering the contest against Boise State, a team Colorado State has never beaten in eight attempts.
“Any time you’re playing somebody who is considered one of the best teams in the country, I think that gives you an extra incentive as a football team to go out and prove you can play with anybody,” Bobo said.
The Rams have lost their past two games, including a 17-7 setback at Wyoming last weekend in “The Border War.”
Junior quarterback Patrick O’Brien has had his moments while passing for 2,514 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. O’Brien has topped 300 yards four times, twice exceeding 400.
Junior wideout Warren Jackson is having a huge season with 69 receptions for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns. The 1,000-yard campaign is just the 14th in school history.
Jackson also happens to maintain that there is no such thing as a meaningless contest. He said there will be an all-out assault in search of a season-ending win.
“We’re not going to quit. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got until the clock hits 0:00,” Jackson said. “Last year, we would just get blown out, no hope. Just little mistakes and tiny errors are just hurting us. I can see it almost coming together, but just not yet. That’s the tough part.”
–Field Level Media