Broncos arrive in Las Vegas to start bowl week
LAS VEGAS – The Boise State football team arrived in Las Vegas Tuesday to begin preparations for Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl matchup with Oregon.
The Broncos landed Tuesday afternoon and went straight to practice at Rebels Park, the practice fields for UNLV. Boise State’s players were given Tuesday night off to explore the strip with friends and family. Curfew will get earlier and earlier as Saturday approaches.
Boise State’s coaches and their wives were treated to a reception at Maverik Helicopter Tuesday night and given the chance to take a helicopter ride of the Las Vegas strip.
The Broncos are coming off a win in the Mountain West title game against Fresno State, but would love to cap the season with a bowl victory against Oregon. The Broncos weren’t able to do either last season as they didn’t qualify for the title game, and then suffered an ugly loss to Baylor in the Cactus Bowl.
“We weren’t satisfied with what happened,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said of the Broncos’ 2016 season shortly after arriving in Las Vegas. “What we learned from last season has led us to where we are right now. I think our guys put in a lot of work to where we are, and I think our guys overcame quite a bit throughout the season with a fairly young team to be in the championship game and find a way to win it and be in this bowl game right now.”
But the Broncos don’t appear satisfied with just winning the Mountain West title either. After last year’s disappointing end to the season with a loss to a Power 5 team in a marquee bowl game, the Broncos are hoping for a different finish on Saturday.
“We’re still not done, we still want to finish,” Harsin said. “We want to play well in the bowl game. This is a great bowl game. We’ve been here before. We know we’re going to have great fan support. Our guys are excited to be playing a great team like Oregon. We know what we’re up against.
“Now it’s about having a great week of prep and going out there and finishing the game and hopefully finishing the season the right way.”
Boise State’s chances of winning Saturday would be significantly higher with senior right end Jake Roh and sophomore running back Alexander Mattison on the field, and it appears there’s a chance that could happen. Harsin said both were making progress and haven’t been ruled out.
Both are dealing with left ankle injuries. Roh has missed the last two games, while Mattison was injured in the Mountain West title game.
“Really both to be honest with you will be game time decisions,” Harsin said. “Jake wanted to come back and play in the championship game, he’s getting better. I don’t know what that means yet. I know how bad he wants to play and Jake will be a guy that will find a way.
“Alexander is improving, he’ll get some stuff done this week. How it feels as he goes into the game will kind of determine it at that point. Knowing Alexander, he usually gets himself back and ready to go, but we won’t know until game time.”
Roh has 39 catches for 410 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing two games. He also has two rushing touchdowns. Mattison leads the Broncos with 1,074 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Boise State will practice Wednesday, and a portion of that will be open to the media. The players will be treated to a buffet dinner from Outback Steakhouse Wednesday night as part of the Freemont Street Experience downtown. Vegas showgirls and other entertainment will be on hand to perform.