We've just witnessed one of the best bowl games of the 2004 college football season, a Liberty Bowl classic between Louisville and Boise State that treated the nation's football fans to a spectacular show of offense and hard-hitting defense. Two great teams battled for 60 minutes with Louisville prevailing 44-40. Many Bronco fans made the long trek to Memphis to cheer on the team. Here are some thoughts on the experience.
The turnout of
Bronco fans in Memphis was
incredible. There was orange everywhere,
and they were very loud (not just the color orange but vocally as well!) Estimates were of 3,000 Boise
State fans; the number was far
greater than that. Many Bronco alumni
from the surrounding area came to the game and got tickets directly from the
Liberty Bowl. The true number was
probably closer to 4,000 and might have been higher than that.
Nearly all of
those fans attended the pre-game buffet in the Mid-South Coliseum, where fans
of both teams could discuss the upcoming game and bands from both schools
played back and forth. Kudos to the
Keith Stein Blue Thunder Marching Band from Boise
State for its solid performance,
both there and at the parade—they did the school proud!
The fans arrived
early in the Liberty Bowl and soaked in the pre-game atmosphere in a very nice
stadium. A Bronco Stadium designed like
that would still enable fans to keep the view of the Boise
River. The Bowl dipped on the ends in not only an
attractive design but a chance to preserve the ambience and still get 60,000
fans into the stadium. Something to keep
in mind as the administration plans for the future.
As for the game,
many knew in advance that the outcome was difficult to predict with two
outstanding offenses. A close game
seemed to be in order, but it could easily be a blowout for either team. That is indeed what we saw. When Louisville
jumped out to a 21-10 lead, the Cardinals were on the verge of blowing the game
wide open. Likewise, with a 31-21 lead
at the half and the ball to start the second half, Boise
State could have had Louisville
on the ropes with a touchdown and a 38-21 lead.
It was impressive to see both great teams battle back from
adversity. In the end, the two teams
were mirror images of one another. One
team had a slight edge in physical play, and the other was a year or two
younger. Other than that, Louisville
and Boise State
were nearly identical. The Broncos seem
to be about a recruit away from being able to win that game. Somewhere in America
there is a defensive end that would love to come to Boise
as a freshman and make the difference next year.
An away game
provides fans with an opportunity that you don't have watching on television, the
chance to talk with opposing fans. The
experience at the Liberty Bowl was unparalleled, talking with hundreds of Louisville
fans and seeing the mutual respect that this game brought. Where else can you talk with 200 total
strangers for hours and have a civil discussion involving people of opposing
Those that weren't
able to make this trip—start making plans now for next year, because the same
dilemma will come up. Reserve your time
off work now and start saving your money for the week from Christmas to January
2nd because again there is a very good chance that the Broncos will
be playing in a big bowl game away from home.
Tell your family now that you would like to reserve that time for
you. We did our trip for about $650
apiece including airfare, 2 nights' hotel, car reservation, gas, food, game
tickets and souvenirs. And you haven't
had ribs until you've been to Memphis—there's
no comparison! We had about 4,000 Boise
State fans make the trip to Memphis. I would like to see the rest of you be able
to enjoy this incredible experience next year—plan on it now!