Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State's Game at Oregon State is Much Bigger Than Advertised

Boise State's game at Oregon State this Saturday may not be getting much hype or press coverage, but make no mistake, this is a huge game for both teams. In fact, for the Broncos the trip to Reser Stadium could make or break a season where everything is still up in the air..

For Oregon State this game is about taking the next step, and proving to its fan-base that the future is bright in Corvallis. I asked Angie Machado of what this game meant to the program. “This is a huge game for the Oregon State program as they enter year two of a monumental rebuild under Coach Andersen,” she stated.

After winning just two games in 2015, and losing a heartbreaking opener to Minnesota this season, the Beavers finally got a win last week over Idaho State by 30. However, Machado said that fans expected more, “While a win is a win, the fans expected the Beavers to dominate the Bengals, which just didn't happen,” she said. “It left the fans wondering which Beaver team will show up against the Broncos,” she added.

Both Boise State and Oregon State have had to deal with oddly placed bye weeks so far this season. The Beavers had theirs in week two, and Boise State in week three. However, Machado points out that may be a bigger deal for the Beavers as they now face Boise State, and then the daunting task of nine Pac-12 games in a row without a break.

For Boise State this game probably has more present ramifications than it does for Oregon State. The Broncos are doing all they can to recapture the hearts and minds of their fans, and the nation. After starting 2-0 for the first time since 2011, fan support isn't at the same level it was just a few seasons ago. Also, the media coverage, and respect in national polls has dissipated.

Boise State is currently ranked No.29 in the AP poll, and No.30 in the Coaches Poll. That's behind two teams with 1-2 records, Oklahoma and Ole Miss, and fellow Mountain West Conference member San Diego State which is No.22 in the AP, and No.28 in the Coaches poll. It is also two spots behind North Dakota State of the FCS in the AP poll.

For Boise State to return to the national spotlight, and even be in the running for a NY6 bowl game, the team must win this game. Yes, Houston has the edge right now, but Boise State will need to go undefeated the rest of the year to be in that conversation, and wins against power five competition are critical regardless of that opponent's record.

As far as San Diego State is concerned, as long as the Broncos take care of business during the season, and if the Aztecs do the same, we could see an undefeated Top 25 matchup in the MWC Championship Game with the winner possibly playing in a NY6 game.

While there is no time like the present, there is also history involved in Saturday's game. For Oregon State it has to do with its starting quarterback Darell Garretson, and some of its coaching staff, especially Head Coach Gary Andersen. They were once part of the Utah State program, and are very familiar with the Broncos.

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Garretson was a member of the Aggies football team in 2013 and 2014, and his first game-time action came against Boise State in that first season. He was thrown into action on the second drive of the third quarter in 2013 against the Broncos after Craig Harrison, who was playing in replacement of injured starter Chuckie Keeton, was ineffective. The young freshman finished the game completing nine of his 14 passing attempts for 116 yards. He had a touchdown and two interceptions, and the Aggies fell to Boise State 34-23.

Now a member of a power five team, Garretson still has much respect for Boise State, “Everyone looks at Boise, they don't look at them as a non-power five, a lot of people look at them as a very tough team that could play in the power five,” Garretson said in a post-practice interview with the media on Tuesday. He also acknowledged that a win against them at home would be huge for the Beavers.

Head coach Gary Andersen faced Boise State twice while coaching at Utah State, and lost both games by a combined score of 102-35. While he probably isn't on the hot seat this season in Corvallis, fans expect the Beavers to compete with the Broncos this Saturday. Machado stated, “This game against Boise State will be a big barometer as to where the program has progressed over the last year.”

If Andersen's team has the same kind of game his squads from Logan did under his leadership, the fans will certainly not be happy. This game probably means more to Garretson and Andersen then they would ever let on. To beat the Broncos in Corvallis, and springboard their season would be one of the best victories in recent years for the Beavers. It would also help erase some painful memories both have of previous meetings with BSU.

For Boise State a loss at Reser Stadium would derail the season, and probably leave a fanbase lukewarm at best heading into the Broncos MWC schedule. Which, ironically starts with Utah State at home on October 1st.

Machado says that Oregon State is dialed in right now, “The Beavers have been very focused and business like this week at practice,” she said. “They seem excited about playing a quality opponent at home inside Reser Stadium and they know that it will be a tough task.” She also notes that the team didn't seem satisfied after the win against Idaho State, and they have been emphasizing limiting mistakes, and how to “capitalize on any errors made by the Broncos.”

Mistakes are exactly what Boise State will be hoping to avoid as they attempt to go 3-0 on the season, and get their first win against Oregon State in the Beavers home stadium. Since the Broncos jumped up to the FBS ranks in 1996 the two teams have met six times, and each has three wins. Boise State has won all three of the games on The Blue, but lost two heart breakers to the Beavers in Corvallis, 24-26 in 2003, and 27-30 in 2005. A win Saturday could break that streak.

The third loss was in the Fiasco Bowl, also known as the 2013 Hawaii Bowl when Oregon State thumped BSU 38-23 in a game that wasn’t even that close (it was 31-6 at the half). It also featured team drama, a  senior quarterback sent home, and conflicting claims of public urination.. it was the first game after losing then head coach Chris Petersen to the University of Washington.

Some of the members of that squad are still playing for Boise State, and although none would probably admit it, beating the Beavers and avenging that loss would probably help heal some old wounds.

To say victory in week four would be tremendous for Boise State is an understatement. Not only for the reason already mentioned but also because it would mean back-to-back wins against Pac-12 opponents, and a second win of three key out-of-conference games on the 2016 schedule. The remaining game is BYU, and that will take place in Albertsons Stadium on October 20th.

Saturday may not feel like a big game to some, but don't be fooled. Boise State at Oregon State is huge for both teams.

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