UNLV Rebels tight end Kaleo Ballungay (19) reacts after his touchdown against Air Force Falcons defensive back Trey Williams (0) in the third quarter at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV, Boise State vow to make best of big opportunity

Mountain West Conference
UNLV vs. Boise State
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET
Allegiant Stadium
Las Vegas, Nevada

Boise State and UNLV are in the Mountain West championship game but the matchup wasn’t solely based on their play.

San Jose State also finished 6-2 in conference play to make it a three-way tie for the two title game spots. Since no Mountain West teams were ranked in the latest College Football Playoff poll, the matchup in Las Vegas was decided by the composite score of four computer rankings.

UNLV, which lost to San Jose State in the final game of the season, received a 44.5 and was named host of the contest.

Boise State, two weeks removed from firing its head coach, was second at 55.75. San Jose State missed out at 58.5.

Hours of number crunching brought the teams to the peculiar peak of the season to date. Making the most of the opportunity is a mantra from both coaches.

The Rebels (9-3) are thrilled to be in after breaking their streak of nine straight losing campaigns behind first-year coach Barry Odom.

“We are a good football team when we have a chip on our shoulder,” said Odom, the Mountain West Coach of the Year. “Whatever that chip is, it needs to be large.”

Boise State (7-5) will be guided by interim coach Spencer Danielson. Andy Avalos was fired with two games left in the regular season.

The Broncos were energized by the methods of Danielson, who has interviewed for the full-time gig.

“My focus from the second I was named the interim coach was 100 percent focused on this team and us finishing this the right way,” Danielson said. “I had communication with our players that grown men finish what they start. We’re going to do this together.”

Broncos running back Ashton Jeanty was named Mountain West Player of the Year, rushing for 1,113 yards and 13 touchdowns and catching 37 passes for 537 yards and five scores. Defensive end Ahmed Hassanein recorded 12 sacks.

The Rebels lead the nation with 36 rushing touchdowns and also feature a standout receiver in Ricky White (76 receptions, 1,308 yards, seven TDs. Quarterback Jayden Maiava has thrown for 2,626 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions and was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year.

Boise State leads the series 8-3. The teams last met in 2019, a 38-13 Boise State romp in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Boise State Broncos head coach Andy Avalos looks on in the first quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State fires football coach Andy Avalos in third season

Boise State fired football coach Andy Avalos on Sunday with two games left in the regular season.

Defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson will lead the team as interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“I am grateful for the passion, effort and dedication Andy has given to our community and his alma mater while serving as our head coach,” athletic director Jeramiah Dickey said in a statement announcing the coaching change. “Andy will always be a Bronco and we wish him and his family all the best in their next steps.”

The school said a national search for Avalos’ replacement would begin right away.

According to the USA Today college football salaries report, Avalos is owed a buyout of nearly $3.3 million.

Avalos was a team captain and all-conference linebacker during his playing career (2000-04) at Boise State. He was hired on Jan. 9, 2021, to replace Bryan Harsin, who went to Auburn.

At the time of his hiring, Avalos was the defensive coordinator at Oregon.

The 42-year-old Avalos leaves the Broncos with a 22-14 overall record, including 5-5 (4-2 Mountain West Conference) this season. He was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year in 2022 after the Broncos finished 10-4.

The Broncos lost at least four games each season, however, under Avalos. In the span between 2002 and his arrival in 2021, they lost four games or more three times.

Boise State defeated New Mexico 42-14 on Saturday and still could win the MWC title.

The Broncos close the season with games at Utah State next Saturday and against Air Force on Nov. 24.

Avalos was one of two FBS coaches fired Sunday. Texas A&M also relieved Jimbo Fisher of his duties.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) throws own the run against Duke in the 2022 Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State looking to defend blue turf against UCF

Things are about to get tougher for UCF as it heads to Idaho to face Boise State on Saturday night.

Despite coming off a 56-19 loss at Washington last week, Boise State (0-1) is a slight favorite over UCF (1-0).

The Knights routed visiting Kent State 56-6 as they prepare for their first season in the Big 12.

John Rhys Plumlee passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns against the Golden Flashes and also ran for 90 yards and one score.

“We showed how good we can be,” Plumlee said after the win.

The Knights rushed for 389 yards and five touchdowns against Kent State. Johnny Richardson ran for 100 yards and RJ Harvey added 134 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns — one each rushing and receiving.

The pressure is on Boise State defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson, who took the blame for last week’s loss.

It was the most points allowed in regulation by the Broncos in any game since 1998. Washington’s Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Penix Jr. passed for 450 yards and five touchdowns.

“I take full responsibility,” Danielson said. “I did not do a good job getting our guys ready to play.”

UCF coach Gus Malzahn said the Knights will practice on a blue field in Orlando at least once this week as they prepare for the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

“They are a national brand,” Malzahn said of Boise State. “They are used to winning.”

Indeed, over the past 23 years, only Oklahoma (90.8 percent) has been more successful at home than Boise State (130-15, 89.7 percent).

The Broncos on Saturday will look for a rebound game from Taylen Green, who completed just 19 of 39 passes for 244 yards, one TD and two interceptions against the Huskies.

Green was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2022, producing an 8-2 record as a starter. Highly athletic at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Green passed for 2,042 yards, 14 TDs and six picks last year. He also ran for 588 yards and 10 TDs.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. during Pac-12 Media Day at Resorts World Las Vegas. tMandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Huskies hush hype, ready to tackle Boise State

No. 10 Washington begins the season Saturday when it plays host to Boise State.

But don’t expect Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to worry too much about the names on the opposing jerseys.

“It’s just us versus us, Washington versus Washington,” said Penix, who finished second in the nation with 4,641 yards passing last season, establishing a UW single-season record. “It doesn’t matter about nobody else. Whatever hype or anything, we just have to go do what we come to do and that’s just all it’s about for me.”

There’s certainly plenty of hype surrounding the Huskies in the second year of coach Kalen DeBoer’s tenure. They went 11-2 last year with the No. 2-ranked offense in the country (516.2 yards per game) and defeated Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Penix is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate and wide receiver Rome Odunze and edge rusher Bralen Trice were preseason All-Americans.

“It’s not about what other people expect us to do and what other people feel. We keep it inside the walls, and we don’t let ourselves get too high or we don’t get too low,” Penix said. “We’re just doing everything that we can to win football games. As far as expectations, we expect ourselves to do better than we did last year. As far as other people’s expectations, we can’t control that. We just have to control what we can control.

“I just go out there and just play my best football. And that’s all it’s about.”

The Huskies are without starting running back Cameron Davis, who totaled 522 yards and led the Pac-12 with 13 rushing touchdowns last season. Davis suffered a season-ending lower-body injury in fall camp. Mississippi State transfer Dillon Johnson is expected to get the bulk of the carries.

Washington will be playing in its final season in the Pacific-12 Conference before moving to the Big Ten in 2024.

Wide receiver Jalen McMillan said the Huskies haven’t gotten caught up in the realignment repercussions.

“Not really,” said McMillan, who said he turns off social media during fall camp. “When the news dropped, everyone was talking about it, but as players, we just want to win the game and win the national championship.”

The Broncos, who went 10-4 last season and beat North Texas in the Frisco Bowl, are favored to win the Mountain West Conference title. Starting quarterback Taylen Green, a dual threat, returns and George Holani will be seeking his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season.

Boise State is seeking its first MWC title since 2019.

“Being a successful team for us is defined by winning a championship,” Broncos coach Andy Avalos said. “Being successful and winning a bowl game and building this team throughout the course of the year.”

The Broncos know they won’t have an easy time at Husky Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the country.

“There’s just no tuning it out. There really isn’t,” said Boise State offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan, who spent five seasons on the UW staff. “I tell these guys all the time, it’s not going to be a situation you just go out there and you tune 75,000 people out, and 350 boats on the water and the city and the experience. We’ve got to be aware of it. You’ve got to take it all in.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2022; El Paso, Texas, USA; Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) against the UTEP Miners defense in the first half at Sun Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Boise St. QB Hank Bachmeier transferring to La. Tech

After starting at quarterback for four years at Boise State, Hank Bachmeier is transferring to Louisiana Tech, ESPN reported Wednesday.

Bachmeier appeared in just four games in 2022, leaving the team ahead of the Broncos’ game against San Diego State on Sept. 30. Due to his shortened season, Bachmeier will have two full years of eligibility remaining.

The Bulldogs feature a pass-oriented offense under coach Sonny Cumbie, something that led Bachmeier to Louisiana Tech.

“I wanted to play in the Air Raid and in a pass-friendly offense,” Bachmeier told ESPN. “I think Coach Cumbie and his track record are a great fit. It’s an offense that any quarterback would want to play in.”

In 29 career games at Boise State, Bachmeier completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 6,605 yards and 41 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. He threw just 94 passes during the 2022 season, completing 51 for 497 yards, six TDs and three interceptions.

Bachmeier will enroll in the spring and be in the running for the 2023 starting job for the Bulldogs, who went 3-9 last season with a 2-6 mark in Conference USA play.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2022; Frisco, Texas, USA; North Texas Mean Green wide receiver Jordan Smart (15) catches a pass against the Boise State Broncos in the first half at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Big second half carries Boise State past North Texas in Frisco Bowl

Freshman running back Ashton Jeanty rushed for a career-high 178 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown Saturday night as Boise State exploded for 29 points in the second half for a 35-32 Frisco Bowl win over North Texas in Frisco, Texas.

Jeanty’s 1-yard scoring plunge with 12:05 left in the game gave the Broncos (10-4) a 35-24 lead. The Mean Green (7-7) pulled within three points at the 8:17 mark on Ikaika Ragsdale’s 5-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion.

North Texas had a final chance to tie or win the game when it got possession at its 15 with 1:20 left and no timeouts. But Austin Aune’s fourth-down pass from his 16 with 52 seconds left fell incomplete, securing the outcome.

Aune completed 17 of 32 passes for 238 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Boise State quarterback Taylen Green finished with 256 total yards, hitting 13 of 22 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 119 yards and two scores on 12 carries.

Green gave the Broncos the lead for good with a 19-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left in the third quarter. It capped a period where the teams combined for 36 points after scoring only 16 points in the first half.

Playing under interim coach Phil Bennett after Seth Littrell was fired on Dec. 4, North Texas’ defense held up well in the first half, neutralizing Boise State’s running game and limiting the Broncos to 24- and 37-yard field goals from Jonah Dalmas.

Meanwhile, the Mean Green did just enough on offense to earn a 10-6 lead at halftime. They ate up 5 1/2 minutes on the game’s opening drive, going 60 yards to set up a 27-yard field goal from Ethan Mooney.

North Texas took advantage of a short field for the half’s only touchdown, driving 65 yards and scoring on Ragsdale’s 1-yard run with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter.

The Mean Green earned a 195-133 advantage in total offense in the half, allowing just two third-down conversions by Boise State in seven tries.

–Field Level Media

Dec 23, 2021; Frisco, TX, USA; North Texas Mean Green quarterback Austin Aune (2) celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State ‘grateful’ entering Frisco Bowl vs. North Texas

Some might see the Frisco Bowl as a comedown for Boise State, considering it lost out on a Mountain West Conference title and a chance to play a Power 5 program in a bowl game.

However, Broncos coach Andy Avalos says the team’s appearance in Saturday night’s Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, against North Texas isn’t the letdown many believe it is.

“It’s a big deal. For us, we’re grateful to be in this bowl game,” he said Monday.

Whether it’s because it’s the Broncos’ first bowl game since 2019 because of COVID-19 or because the Dallas Cowboys are allowing the team to practice at their facility, Boise State sounds like a team ready to play in a pre-Christmas bowl game.

The Broncos (9-4) could have played Washington State in the LA Jimmy Kimmel Bowl, but instead fell 28-16 to Fresno State in the MWC championship game. That knocked them down the league’s pecking order for bowl bids.

Instead of playing in SoFi Stadium, the home of two NFL teams that’s already hosted a Super Bowl, Boise State instead plays in a soccer-specific stadium outside of Dallas. But Avalos said early practices have been intense.

The Broncos’ leaders are running back George Holani, who’s rushed for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns, and linebacker DJ Schramm, whose team-high 99 tackles are 34 more than any other teammate.

Meanwhile, North Texas (7-6) also had a chance at a more prestigious bowl game, but fell 48-27 Dec. 2 at UTSA in the Conference USA title game. Then it fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 in seven years, shortly after accepting a bid to the Frisco Bowl.

Former SMU coach Phil Bennett, who’s served as the program’s defensive coordinator the last two years, is the interim coach for the bowl game. The Mean Green expect to name a new coach before the bowl game.

Quarterback Austin Aune has thrown for 3,309 yards and 32 touchdowns for North Texas, while middle linebacker KD Davis notched a whopping 132 tackles. It was his second straight year with at least 120 stops.

This will be the first meeting of the programs since 2000, when Boise State routed the Mean Green 59-0 in Boise. The series is tied at 3-3.

For North Texas, this is the third consecutive bowl game the Mean Green have played in, but they haven’t won during bowl season since 2013, when it beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. North Texas is 2-9 all-time in bowl games, while Boise State is 12-7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2022; El Paso, Texas, USA; Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) against the UTEP Miners defense in the first half at Sun Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Boise State QB to transfer after OC’s dismissal

Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier plans to enter the transfer portal after the Broncos fired their offensive coordinator, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Head coach Andy Avalos dismissed Tim Plough on Saturday and replaced him with former NFL and college head coach Dirk Koetter for the remainder of the season.

The Broncos (2-2, 1-0 Mountain West) lost 27-10 at UTEP on Friday night, with Bachmeier completing just 13 of 34 passes for 93 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

Bachmeier has completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 497 yards this season, with six TDs and three picks in four games.

He has started 29 games over the past four seasons, throwing for 6,605 yards and 41 scores against 19 interceptions.

Redshirt freshman Taylen Green is the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart. Boise State hosts San Diego State (2-2, 0-0) on Friday night.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Taylen Green (10) confers with Boise State offensive coordinator Tim Plough during the second half of action  at Albertsons Stadium versus Tennessee Martin Skyhawks . Boise State defeats Tennessee Martin 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State fires OC Tim Plough, tabs Dirk Koetter as replacement

Boise State fired offensive coordinator Tim Plough on Saturday, one day after the team’s disheartening 27-10 road loss to UTEP.

Former Broncos coach Dirk Koetter was named to replace Plough. Koetter has been serving as an offensive analyst for the school.

Boise State had just 177 yards of total offense against UTEP. The heavily favored Broncos had 84 rushing yards and 93 passing and quarterback Hank Bachmeier completed just 13 of 34 passes.

Boise State routed UTEP 54-13 last season.

“This was a difficult decision, but I believe it is in the best interest of our program,” Boise State head coach Andy Avalos said in a statement. “Our team goals are still in front of us and we are focused on working to accomplish them. Tim is a good football coach, and I have no doubt he will continue to positively impact the young men he works with in the future.”

Boise State is just 2-2 through four games. The Broncos also lost to Oregon State this season before beating New Mexico and UT Martin and are averaging 22 points per game.

Plough, 37, was in his second season with the Broncos. Plough was hired to run the offense after Avalos became head coach following the 2020 season.

Koetter, 63, went 26-10 as Boise State’s coach from 1998-2000 before leaving to coach Arizona State. Koetter went 40-34 in six seasons with the Sun Devils.

Koetter also spent three seasons (2016-18) as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He went 19-29 and was fired after his second straight 5-11 campaign.

Koetter’s son, Davis, is a receiver at Boise State.

The Broncos host San Diego State (1-2 entering Saturday) in Mountain West play on Friday night.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers running back Trey Lowe (21) is grabbed by Boise State Broncos defensive tackle Scott Matlock (99) during the first half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon St. forces 5 turnovers in win over Boise St.

Chance Nolan passed for 251 yards and two touchdowns as Oregon State cruised to an easy 34-17 victory over Boise State on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams at Corvallis, Ore.

Team captain Jack Colletto rushed for a long touchdown on offense and recovered a fumble on defense for Oregon State while Jaydon Grant recorded an interception and also had a strip-sack for the Beavers.

Luke Musgrave and Tyjon Lindsey caught touchdown passes, and Deshaun Fenwick rushed for a score for Oregon State. Rejzohn Wright and Alex Austin also had interceptions for a defense that forced five turnovers.

Nolan completed 14 of 23 passes and was intercepted twice for the Beavers, who scored the game’s first 24 points and won their seventh consecutive home contest.

Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier was pulled after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble in the first 18 minutes. He completed 4 of 8 passes for 30 yards. Replacement Taylen Green was 19-of-28 passing for 155 yards and one interception but rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

The Broncos recovered to pull within 27-17 early in the fourth quarter after Green’s touchdown runs of 74 and 4 yards. Colletto then lined up at fullback and broke loose on a 41-yard touchdown run with 10:39 left to turn the momentum back to the Beavers.

Grant’s interception set up Oregon State’s first touchdown. Nolan immediately hit Tre’Shaun Harrison for 26 yards and followed up with a 27-yard touchdown to Musgrave with 5:24 left in the first quarter.

Just over four minutes later, Nolan tossed a 47-yard scoring pass to Lindsey to make it 14-0.

Early in the second quarter, Grant sacked Bachmeier and forced the fumble with Colletto recovering at the Broncos’ 6-yard line. That set up Everett Hayes’ 20-yard field goal with 10:28 left in the half.

Boise State threatened to get on the board but Ashton Jeanty fumbled with Grant recovering at the Oregon State 4 with 4:44 left.

The Beavers cashed in with a four-play, 98-yard drive. Nolan’s 74-yard pass connection with Anthony Gould set up the touchdown and Fenwick scored from the 12 to make it 24-0 with 3:11 left.

Jonah Dalmas’ 41-yard field goal with 12:11 left in the third quarter put the Broncos on the board. Hayes kicked a 23-yard field goal to restore the 24-point advantage with 2:57 remaining in the stanza.

–Field Level Media