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Once fierce rivals, Boise State and Nevada to meet Saturday for first time since 2014

The Broncos (6-2, 4-0 MW) have rolled off four consecutive wins since a home loss to Virginia dropped them to 2-2 on Sept. 22. (Youtube/BlueTurfSports)

BOISE – The Boise State football team will look for a fifth-straight win when they host the Nevada Wolf Pack Saturday at 5 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium.

The Broncos (6-2, 4-0 MW) have rolled off four consecutive wins since a home loss to Virginia dropped them to 2-2 on Sept. 22.

Boise State, the lone undefeated team remaining in the Mountain West, is hoping to avoid a potential letdown with a season-defining game on tap next week at Colorado State.

Nevada is just 1-7 this season but has played much better of late. After an 0-5 start, the Wolf Pack topped Hawai’i before nearly beating two of the better teams in the conference. Nevada lost 44-42 at Colorado State and 45-42 to Air Force prior to a bye last week.

The two teams haven’t met since 2014 when a fierce rivalry was put on hold due to conference realignment and the two-division format of the Mountain West. The two-year hiatus from the schedule is the longest gap between games since they started playing every season in 1971.

There have been plenty of great Boise State-Nevada games over the years. The 2007 one comes to mind, when Boise State topped Nevada 69-67 in four overtimes in one of the highest-scoring games in college football history.

The 2010 matchup also is a classic, but one Boise State fans have painful memories of. That’s when Nevada won in overtime to end Boise State’s undefeated season and dream of playing in the BCS Championship.

The rivalry spans five decades and four conferences. Both schools have met as members of the Big Sky, Big West, Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences.

Only four times since 1971 did the two schools not play (1978, 1992, 1995, 2000) before the alternating cross-division Mountain West schedule kept them from playing in 2015 and 2016.

But the rivalry is back – at least for the next two years. The Broncos and Wolf Pack will play Saturday at Albertsons Stadium, and next season in Reno in 2018.

“I still feel like in my mind, Boise State-Nevada, that’s a big game,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s a rivalry game. That’s a game everybody looks forward to and a game you want to play in. That’s a game over the years that has been really good.”

Nevada has a first-year coach in Jay Norvell, who spent five seasons coaching in the NFL and has coached at Arizona State, Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Nebraska among others.

The Broncos face the tough challenge of playing a team they should beat, knowing a much bigger game awaits them next week. The winner of Boise State’s road game at Colorado State on Nov. 11 has the leg up on the Mountain Division title and a spot in the conference title game.

Boise State is favored by 20 points in Las Vegas, but a near 50-year history of the series has the Broncos knowing they can’t afford to look past the Wolf Pack on Saturday.

“I think this team is playing well,” Harsin said. “We get a chance to play them again, and these guys are looking forward to it. … Nevada has always been a big game. It still is.”

Kick off Saturday is set for 5 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Plenty of tickets still remain at BroncoSports.com.

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