“Arizona had a tremendous season,” Harsin said. “We are excited about what happened here at Boise State. We're excited to be the conference champions. That was our first goal. What an opportunity it is for us to have a chance to go back to the Fiesta Bowl and to play against Arizona.
“This is exciting times at Boise State. We've been there, but this is a different football team. I know our fans are looking forward to returning to Arizona. I know that our players, this is something in the past they've seen and are excited to be a part of again.”
Although past Boise State teams have probably been better than this one, Harsin takes offense to the belief that this current team does not match up.
“I think obviously us playing in these games in the past, being on that stage, we've played well,” Harsin said. “Those teams that were in those games deserved it.
“I disagree with us having better credentials on some previous teams than we do right now. This is a very special team. This is a team that's done something that no other football team in Boise State history has done, won an outright Mountain West championship. That's the first time.
“I think our credentials right now are pretty good. I think our selection into this bowl game is correct. I know our players are excited about it.”
When defending Boise State’s position, Harsin chose to focus on the strength of the Mountain West conference as a whole.
“Colorado State was ranked,” Harsin said. “Utah State was right there at 9-2 when we played them. Both very good teams. Then obviously San Diego State, they're a team that's done well the past few seasons.“I think you look at the body of work and the teams that we played, BYU non-conference, Ole Miss early in the season, I feel strongly about what we were able to do, especially on our side of the division in our conference, who we played.”
In addition, the Pac-12 had its own success this season as well.
“The PAC-12 is tremendous now,” Harsin said. “You have a group of teams in there. If you look at Arizona's body of work, obviously a very good football team, but they played very good teams throughout this entire season.
“I think the one thing, you look at it on a week-to-week basis, you're trying to compare the two conferences, it kind of is what it is.
“As you get into this type of game, I look at it more from a program standpoint than conference standpoint as far as where are both teams at.
“I think both teams have played quality opponents and both teams, as far as programs go, have had a lot of success this season in particular. It makes for a great matchup.”