Liberty Bowl Post-Game Notes

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 viewpoints?

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!

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