Bad news: For the first time since 1998, the Boise State football team has finished the regular season with five losses.
Good news: The Broncos still have a bowl game on the horizon. But exactly where the Broncos are headed remains a mystery following a 27-16 loss to No. 22 San Diego State on Friday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Bowl matchups will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 5, after conference championship games.
While many national prognosticators have placed Boise State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on its home turf, the Broncos aren’t so sure they’ll be bowling in Boise.
“There are opportunities (for a road trip),” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “Our AD has been in conversations the last couple weeks with people from various bowl games on the West Coast. There’s possibilities within the conference to go to some of the bowl games in different areas, outside of the bowl game the winner of the conference championship gets to go to here in L.A. Here in the next couple days, a lot of that stuff gets to sorting itself out.”
Aside from the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, which is reserved for the league champion — either San Diego State or Utah State — here are the initial bowl options available for Mountain West teams:
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (vs. MAC), Dec. 21
New Mexico Bowl (vs. Conference USA), Dec. 18
Offerpad Arizona Bowl (vs. MAC), Dec. 31
SoFi Hawaii Bowl (vs. American Athletic), Dec. 24
The Mountain West also has an affiliation to fill in, if needed, in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Big Ten or Big 12, Dec. 28), and Group of Five schools can fill slots in the Cure Bowl (Group of Five or Army, Dec. 17), RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl (Group of Five or Army, Dec. 18), SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Group of Five or Army, Dec. 28) and Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (Group of Five or Army, Dec. 21).
The highest-ranked champion from the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West or Sun Belt will play in a New Year’s Six bowl. That distinction will belong to No. 4 Cincinnati of the AAC, even if it loses its conference championship game. San Diego State is No. 21 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Regardless of which bowl the Broncos are headed to, senior receiver Khalil Shakir says he plans to be there. Some NFL-bound seniors choose to skip bowl games in favor of draft preparation and avoiding potential injury.
“My mentality has never been that way,” Shakir said. “I’m not sure what bowl game we’re gonna play in, but right now I am set on playing.”
The Mountain West has six guaranteed bowl slots through the end of the 2025-26 season.
“(Athletic Director) Jeramiah (Dickey) has been so diligent about working, and these guys deserve an unbelievable experience,” Avalos said. “Wherever that is, whoever we’re playing against, we’re going to work on focusing on our last opportunity here together.”
The Broncos will enter their bowl game with a 7-5 record, their worst regular-season mark since they were 6-5 in 1998, when they were a member of the Big West. The 2013 team finished with five losses, at 8-5, but was 8-4 in the regular season and then lost the Hawaii Bowl to Oregon State.
Broncos lose two LBs to injury
Boise State linebackers Riley Whimpey and D.J. Schramm each exited Friday’s game with injuries.
Schramm, who is also a key player on special teams, was seen on the CBS broadcast with a boot on his left foot.
Whimpey went down on San Diego State’s first drive of the third quarter and never returned. He was replaced by Rocky Mountain High graduate Ty Tanner.
“We’ve got to continue to build the depth so young men can step up and play and fulfill a role for the team when the time comes,” Avalos said. “As we go through this, we’ll continue to build the confidence and develop guys so that when their opportunity comes, they can jump in there.”
Whimpey finished the game with four tackles, including one tackle for loss, and Schramm had two tackles.
Quarterbacks take a beating
Hank Bachmeier had already absorbed the most hits of any quarterback in the country this season, according to CBS, going into Friday’s game against 22nd-ranked San Diego State.
The Aztecs didn’t cut Bachmeier any slack. Although he was officially sacked three times, an already banged up Bachmeier found himself on the ground quite a bit.
“Through the course of the season, Hank’s been battling,” Avalos said. “I’m not going to go into all the details, but he’s wearing a knee brace for a reason. He was out there battling all day, running, trying to make plays, scrambling.”
Avalos chose to put in backup Jack Sears for the Broncos’ final two drives of the fourth quarter, and Sears found the Aztecs’ pursuit just as taxing. Sears was sacked for a 9-yard loss on his very first play, and he was intercepted on his final pass attempt of the game.
The two Boise State quarterbacks were sacked a combined four times for 27 yards in losses, and intercepted three times.
San Diego State nose tackle Jonah Tavai was a menace, collecting 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two QB hurries.
Two Broncos hit career milestones
▪ Sophomore kicker Jonah Dalmas set a single-season program record with his 22-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was his 26th field goal of the season, surpassing the previous record of 25 set by Tyler Rausa in 2015. He needs three more to tie the Mountain West single-season record of 29 by New Mexico’s John Sullivan in 2007. Dalmas has made 18 straight field-goal attempts, which is the longest active streak in the nation.
In an odd twist, he missed an extra point on Friday, clanging the kick off the uprights after hooking it.
▪ Redshirt senior tight end Kurt Rafdal hauled in his first career touchdown catch, grabbing a 20-yarder for the Broncos’ first score of the game with 6:08 left in the first quarter. Rafdal joined Boise State this season after three years at Nebraska.
Boise State down two starters
Sixth-year senior Jake Stetz didn’t make the trip to Carson, California, after leaving the Broncos’ win over New Mexico in the second quarter last weekend with a leg injury.
Avalos said after the game that Stetz was out for the season.
Donte Harrington started in place of Stetz at center, and was later replaced by Will Farrar, who had missed the past four games with an undisclosed injury.
Wide receiver Octavius Evans and tight end Tyler Eiguren also were out for undisclosed reasons. But receiver Stefan Cobbs was back in uniform for the Broncos after missing the past two games with an injury.
Boise State didn’t have any players out because of COVID-19 protocols, a spokesperson for the program confirmed before the game.
Team captains Shakir and Kekaula Kaniho were joined by linebacker Ezekiel Noa and running back George Holani as game captains. ... San Diego State won the coin toss and deferred. ... Boise State was led onto the field by Kekaula Kaniho, who carried the Dan Paul Hammer. ... Wide receiver Billy Bowens carried the American flag and edge Demitri Washington carried the Bleed Blue flag. ... Redshirt freshman Kaonohi Kaniho started at cornerback instead of Tyric LeBeauf. Kaniho has now started six straight games. ... Bachmeier moved up on Boise State’s single-season lists for attempts (ninth, 401) and completions (10th, 252). He also raised his career totals to 485 completions (seventh), 6,151 yards total offense (eighth), and 35 touchdown passes (ninth). ... Shakir moved into fourth all-time at Boise State with 2,882 yards receiving and fifth with 208 receptions. He also is tied for ninth with 20 scoring grabs. On the single-season list, Shakir is tied for seventh for receptions at 77 and his 1,117 yards receiving ranks ninth. ... San Diego State’s Segun Olubi, who played the 2017 season at College of Idaho, tied for the team lead with six total tackles.