Sep 10, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Stefan Cobbs (5) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half against the UTEP Miners at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

AAC targeting Boise State, UAB, others for expansion

The American Athletic Conference has identified potential candidates, most from the Mountain West, to join the league after the announced exodus of three teams to the Big 12, CBS Sports reported Thursday.

At the top of the AAC’s wish list are Mountain West programs Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State, along with UAB of Conference USA.

The conference is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma began the chain reaction of moves with their announcement that they will join the Southeastern Conference in 2025.

The CBS report said the AAC likely will be looking to add four teams to bring the number of members to 12, with Boise State the most coveted addition based on the strength of its football program. CBS reported last week that Boise State, as well as Memphis, also could be top targets for the Big 12 should it choose to expand to 14 teams.

The AAC also has a second tier of teams it could pursue if it is spurned by any of its preferred teams, per the report. It includes FAU and UTSA from Conference USA.

BYU, an independent in football and a Mountain West member in the other sports, is joining the Big 12 in 2023, with the AAC teams expected on board by July 1, 2024.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos bring the American flag onto the field prior to the game against the UTEP Miners at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Unbeaten Oklahoma State visits Boise State

Oklahoma State aims to notch its 19th win in its last 20 nonconference games when it visits Boise State on Saturday night.

The Cowboys (2-0) weren’t too ferocious while winning nonconference home games against Missouri State and Tulsa by an average of six points and coach Mike Gundy said his team will need to step up the effort on the famed blue turf in Boise, Idaho.

“My personal opinion is that they have a unique situation there,” Gundy said of the Broncos. “They kind of live in their own world out there, and they have their own way of thinking. …

“It’s pretty cool what they did. But essentially, the field needs to be the same for our guys. Our preparation and focus and getting ready to play and competing out there should overcome the color of the turf.”

Boise State (1-1) opened its season with a loss at UCF before recovering for a 54-13 home win over UTEP last Saturday. The Broncos forced six turnovers (three interceptions, three fumbles) for the first time since 2013.

Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier threw a critical interception late in the loss to UCF but that is his lone miscue this season. He has passed for 603 yards and four touchdowns.

Outside of the occasional home game against Pac-12 schools, Boise State doesn’t typically land home games against power conference programs. So Oklahoma State visiting to complete a two-game series between the schools has created extra buzz.

“We got a great challenge in front of us,” Broncos first-year coach Andy Avalos said during a press conference. “We know these are the types of games that excite our fan base so to be able to have one in Boise is an unbelievable opportunity.”

The Cowboys recorded a 44-21 win when the teams met on Sept. 15, 2018 in Stillwater. Oklahoma State blocked two punts, returning one for a touchdown and the other setting up a 7-yard touchdown drive.

Last Saturday, the Cowboys trailed Tulsa 14-7 after three quarters before scoring 21 fourth-quarter points. LD Brown’s 98-yard kickoff return put Oklahoma State ahead for good.

Cowboys linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez had 13 tackles against the Golden Hurricane one week after posting a career-best 15 versus Missouri State.

One player Oklahoma State will look to corral is Boise State wideout Khalil Shakir, who has 12 receptions for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Boise State Broncos running back George Holani (24) celebrates a touchdown against the Wyoming Cowboys during the first quarter at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Andy Avalos to be named head coach at Boise State

Boise State is expected to name former Broncos player and assistant coach Andy Avalos its next head coach, multiple outlets reported Friday night.

Avalos, 39, was an All-WAC linebacker for Boise State (2002-04) and an assistant coach for seven years – including three years as defensive coordinator – before spending the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Oregon.

Avalos would replace Bryan Harsin, who left last month to take the job at Auburn.

Boise State just last week hired a new athletic director, Jeramiah Dickey, who tweeted out Friday that a coaching hire was “coming soon.”

As a player, Avalos led the Broncos in tackles three years in a row and ranks No. 4 on Boise State’s career tackles list with 365. He earned first-team All-WAC honors in 2003 and 2004.

As a coach, Avalos was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award in 2019 for the nation’s top assistant coach. The Oregon defense finished ninth in the nation in scoring.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore talks with quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after a touchdown in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys sign OC Moore to extension

The Dallas Cowboys signed offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to a multi-year contract extension, meaning he has withdrawn his name from consideration for other coaching positions, including the head job at his alma mater, Boise State. NFL Network reported the “lucrative” deal, which the team announced Saturday, is for three years.

“I am very excited to remain with the Dallas Cowboys as the offensive coordinator,” Moore, 32, said in a statement Saturday night. “I will no longer be pursuing the head coaching job at Boise State. I love Boise State. I will always root for them, and I hope one day to be a part of the program again.”

Moore, who won 50 games as a quarterback for Boise State from 2008-11, was considered to be a strong candidate to replace Bryan Harsin, who was hired by Auburn after it fired Gus Malzahn earlier this month. Moore and Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos interviewed for the position, according to numerous reports.

The Cowboys have thrived offensively since he became coordinator two years ago. This year, Dallas ranks 12th in total offense (376.1 ypg), even after starting quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury during a victory over the New York Giants on Oct. 11. In Moore’s first year of calling plays last year, Dallas ranked first in total offense at 431.5 yards per game.

“We are building something special here in Dallas,” Moore said. “I am thankful to the Jones family and Mike McCarthy for providing me with the opportunity to coach these special players. I am excited for us to put it all together and finish the job.”

Dallas (6-9) closes its season at the New York Giants (5-10) on Sunday. The winner of the Dallas-Giants game makes the playoffs as the NFC East champion if the Washington Football Team (6-9) loses to the Philadelphia Eagles (4-10-1) on Sunday night. Washington clinches the NFC East with a win.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2019; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Boise State Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin before the game against the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Auburn to hire Boise State’s Harsin

Auburn is finalizing a deal to hire Boise State’s Bryan Harsin as its next head coach, according to multiple reports Tuesday night.

Harsin will succeed Gus Malzahn, who was fired earlier this month after leading the program for eight years. Malzahn led the Tigers to the national championship game in 2013 but struggled to maintain a powerhouse since then, and the Tigers finished 6-4 this season.

The 44-year-old Harsin also replaced Malzahn at Arkansas State in 2013. He spent one season there, winning a share of the Sun Belt title, before moving on to Boise State and posting six consecutive seasons with 10-plus victories.

Harsin won three Mountain West Conference titles and boasts a 69-19 record with the Broncos. Boise State lost to San Jose State in the MWC championship game this season and opted out of the bowl schedule because of COVID-19 concerns.

“These young men have been through a lot this season,” Harsin said in a statement from Boise State. “COVID protocols required them to be away from their families for most of the season, and they understandably want to go home and be with their families for the holidays.”

Other candidates for Auburn’s top job included Hugh Freeze of Liberty and Kevin Steele, who served as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator this season and was named as interim coach after Malzahn’s exit.

Auburn is set to face No. 14 Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose State Spartans running back Tyler Nevens (23) is tackled by UNLV Rebels defensive back Bryce Jackson (24) during the fourth quarter at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose State embraces ‘biggest game’ against Boise State

San Jose State is just two years removed from a 1-11 campaign, so excuse the No. 24 Spartans if they are a little bit giddy to be playing conference power Boise State in the Mountain West championship game Saturday in Las Vegas.

San Jose State (6-0, 6-0 MW) is typically a punching bag for the Broncos, who have won all 14 all-time meetings. The Spartans also are attempting to start 7-0 for the first time since the school’s 1939 squad went unbeaten in 13 contests.

The program last had a winning record in 2012 — its final campaign in the Western Athletic Conference before joining the Mountain West — and San Jose State coach Brian Brennan’s name is suddenly in the coaching speculation mill (with Arizona) despite having an 8-29 mark with the Spartans before this season.

“We are climbing the mountain, and that’s all I’m worried about right now. That’s it,” Brennan said, swiping off rumor chat. “This team, moving forward, is playing in the biggest game in the history of our school.”

The “biggest game” tag fits in the eyes of junior defensive end Cade Hall, who has a team-leading eight sacks this season to earn Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors.

“Being on a team that was 1-11 and then being where we’re at now feels really good because we’ve been on both sides,” Hall told reporters. “We’ve put in the work to try and turn this thing around. It feels great.”

San Jose State is the host team for the game in Sam Boyd Stadium because it recently relocated its program to Las Vegas due to Santa Clara County’s restrictions on contact sports because of the COVID-19 surge in the area.

San Jose State and the Broncos (5-1, 5-0) were scheduled to play in Boise on Nov. 28 but the contest was scrapped just hours before kickoff due to COVID-19 issues in the Boise State program. The Mountain West declared the game a no-contest.

The Broncos have continued to have COVID-19 issues and played short-handed — only two quarterbacks suited up — and without multiple assistant coaches for last Saturday’s 17-9 win in the snow at Wyoming.

“It’s tough,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said earlier this week. “I can tell you that. We had some of our players doing things coaches normally do.”

The Broncos have won three straight games since being trounced 51-17 by then-No. 9 BYU on Nov. 6 in Boise.

Though Boise State typically has few issues with the Spartans — six of the wins are by at least 35 points — Harsin is concerned about the latest matchup.

“It is all San Jose State. We are focused on what we have to do this week to play against a very good team,” Harsin said. “San Jose State is good. We have done some good things this season. We got to get ourselves ready.

“This is why you work so hard to be in a game like this and play for a championship.”

Quarterback Hank Bachmeier has passed for 929 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions in four games for a Boise State offense averaging a Mountain West-leading 36.2 points per game. Receiver Khalil Shakir had 46 catches for 634 yards and six touchdowns.

The Broncos allow 26.0 points per game with standout all-conference cornerback Avery Williams also being named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight season. Williams scored three special teams’ touchdowns this season — two on kickoff returns, and one on a blocked punt that he returned for a touchdown.

In his career, Williams has returned five punts and three kickoffs for scores.

The Spartans are averaging 30.3 points on offense while limiting opponents to 17.5 points per game. San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel, a transfer from Arkansas, has passed for 1,453 yards and 13 touchdowns and been intercepted just four times.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Boise State Broncos cornerback Avery Williams (26) scores an eighty eight yard kickoff return in the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

More COVID-19 issues cause Boise State to cancel vs. San Jose State

A key Mountain West contest between San Jose State and host Boise State was canceled Saturday due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the Boise State program.

The Mountain West announcement the cancellation and declared it a no-contest.

“Due to an upward trend of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing within the Boise State program, the Broncos are unable to participate in the game on Nov. 28 vs. San Jose State,” the Mountain West said in a statement. “Therefore, the MW is canceling the game and declaring it a no-contest. There is no plan to reschedule.”

Boise State has had major COVID-19 issues in recent weeks. The Broncos played a game against Colorado State on Nov. 12 with 14 players out due to COVID-19 protocols and had 12 players sidelined for a Nov. 21 game at Hawaii.

Leading up to the San Jose State game, reports had the Broncos with five players testing positive and four others out due to contact tracing.

However, the number could be much higher as Boise State was still sorting through lab results late Friday night before deciding Saturday morning that it couldn’t move forward with playing the game.

“Because of a delay at the lab, our results from Thursday’s tests didn’t come back until late yesterday, which meant our staff were contact tracing until late last night,” interim athletic director Bob Carney said in a statement. “Under the circumstances, and with limited numbers within specific position groups, our coaches, administration and medical personnel met this morning and determined that it was not in the best interest of our student-athletes’ safety and well-being to play today’s game.

“I am disappointed for the student-athletes, coaches and fans, both at Boise State and San Jose State, and am hopeful the Broncos will be able to return to the field (on Dec. 4) against UNLV.”

The Spartans (4-0, 4-0 Mountain West), who are enjoying a surprisingly strong season, were dejected over the cancellation of the game against Boise State (4-1, 4-0).

“We arrived in Boise on Friday and learned this news Saturday morning,” San Jose State athletic director Marie Tuite said in a statement. “Our players and coaches were looking forward to this game with great anticipation. It is a big disappointment to everyone that we are not able to play this game.”

The Spartans are next slated to play at home on Dec. 5 against Hawaii.

–Field Level Media

Oct 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) warms up before a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State plays Colorado State despite 14 COVID-19 cases

Boise State was without 14 players due to COVID-19 protocols for Thursday night’s home game against Colorado State.

According to the school, nine players tested positive and five others are missing the game due to contact tracing.

Last Friday, the Broncos had four players sit out due to COVID-19 protocols for their 51-17 home loss against BYU.

Also, sophomore quarterback Hank Bachmeier started against Colorado State after missing the last two games due to unspecified reasons. Bachmeier started the season opener against Utah State and passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-13 victory.

Junior Jack Sears started Boise State’s past two games but suffered a head injury against BYU. He didn’t suit up versus the Rams.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2018; Boise, ID, United States; A general view of  Albertsons Stadium prior to the start of the 2018 Idaho Potato Bowl between BYU and Western Michigan. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson, No. 9 BYU blow out No. 21 Boise State

Zach Wilson passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score as No. 9 BYU rolled to a convincing 51-17 road victory over No. 21 Boise State in nonconference play on Friday night.

Tyler Allgeier scored on an 86-yard run as part of a 123-yard, two-touchdown outing and Isaac Rex caught two touchdown passes for the Cougars (8-0), who continued their best start since the 2001 squad won its first 12 games.

BYU had five touchdown drives of at least 72 yards — including excursions of 95 and 96 yards — while winning at Boise State (2-1) for the first time in six visits.

Wilson, who initially committed to the Broncos in the summer of 2017 before later reneging, completed 21 of 27 passes as the Cougars outgained Boise State 573 yards to 310. Lopini Katoa also rushed for a touchdown for BYU.

The 34-point margin of defeat represents the worst home loss for Boise State this century.

Broncos quarterback Jack Sears departed with an apparent head injury with 8:25 left in the first quarter. Sears completed all four of his passes for 41 yards before leaving.

Usual starter Hank Bachmeier missed his second straight game for undisclosed reasons. Boise State announced that four players missed Friday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols but didn’t divulge identities.

Cade Fennegan replaced Sears and completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and one fumble. Fennegan tossed fourth-quarter touchdowns of 52 and 46 yards, both to Khalil Shakir, who had 10 receptions for 139 yards.

BYU wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Allgeier shed a tackler at the line of scrimmage on the team’s second offensive play and raced down the center of the field for the 86-yard score. It was the Cougars’ longest run since Mike Hague ran for an 87-yard score against UNLV in 2006.

Sears left three-plus minutes later during a 16-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal by Jonah Dalmas with 3:27 remaining in the first.

Jake Oldroyd booted a 47-yard field goal at the outset of the second quarter to give BYU a 10-3 lead. Wilson scored on a 4-yard run with one minute left in the half to cap an eight-play, 96-yard drive. Boise State’s Scott Matlock blocked the extra point.

The Cougars drove 86 yards on five plays to start a 22-point third quarter. Wilson tossed back-to-back 38-yard completions to Dax Milne and Gunner Romney (six receptions, 133 yards) before hitting Rex on a 5-yard scoring pass to make it 23-3 with 12:48 left in the third quarter.

Wilson connected with Rex on a 20-yard touchdown and tacked on a two-point throw to Neil Pau’u with 6:57 left in the stanza. Katoa scored on a 20-yard scamper to make it 38-3 with 1:26 remaining in the third, and BYU went on to the victory.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Jack Sears (16) dives in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State QB Sears leaves game with injury

Boise State junior quarterback Jack Sears departed Friday night’s contest against No. 9 BYU due to an apparent head injury suffered in the first quarter.

Sears was injured on a quarterback sneak and appeared woozy when he got up. An official noticed and sent him to the Broncos’ sideline with 8:25 left in the quarter.

Sears was taken to the locker room to be evaluated. He returned to the Boise State sideline early in the second quarter without his helmet.

True freshman Cade Fennegan replaced Sears for No. 21 Boise State. Sears was 4-of-4 passing for 41 yards before exiting.

Normal starter Hank Bachmeier missed his second straight game. The school hasn’t revealed why the sophomore is sidelined.

However, Boise State said four players were missing Friday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols. Bachmeier was one of two players who didn’t travel to last Saturday’s game at Air Force when the school said one player was sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The other player, safety JL Skinner, was back on the field for the Broncos against BYU.

–Field Level Media