They didn't realize it at the time, but the 2000 Boise State football team set the stage for the success of the current Broncos. Long before national rankings, Fiesta Bowls and Sports Illustrated covers, the 2000 Bronco team was 10-2 with a Humanitarian Bowl win over UTEP.
Little did they know it at the time, but the 2000 BoiseState
football team was beginning what was to be called the Decade of Dominance.
The 2000 Bronco team had come off of a fine season
that culminated in many firsts.It
was the first conference title in major college football (in their fourth year
of Division I football), their first bowl game and their first bowl win (a 34-31
win over Louisville of Conference USA
in the 2000 Humanitarian Bowl).Little
did they know, also, of the rivalry that would develop with Louisville as
both schools progressed.The Broncos
would face Louisville in the 2004 Liberty Bowl.
BoiseState had recently received news that they had been invited to the Western
Athletic Conference, a definite step up for the program.But just as they had to do prior to the 1995
season, the 2000 Broncos would have to focus on the season at hand.
The defending Big West Conference champions opened
the season with a non-conference game against New Mexico of
the newly-formed Mountain West Conference.The
Mountain West teams were all part of the 16-team Western Athletic Conference but
decided to form their own conference.Quarterback
Bart Hendricks accounted for 266 yards of total offense and two touchdowns for
Coach Dirk Koetter's Broncos.Hendricks
also ran for 98 yards
on 19 carries, including a 34-yard scamper for 6 that opened the scoring.He also tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Andre Banks in the second
quarter and finished 17-34 for 168 yards.Shaunard
Harts scored on a 34-yard interception return as the Broncos opened a 24-0 lead
and never looked back.
Broncos entertained Northern Iowa
in the 2000 home opener the following week.Brock Forsey accounted for 292 yards of all-purpose offense, breaking the
all-time single-game record.A
Bronco Stadium crowd of 26,490 watched as Forsey gained 167 yards rushing on 15
carries.The Broncos piled up 589
yards of total offense in scoring the non-conference win.Quarterback Bart Hendricks was a solid 16-24 for 341 yards and three
touchdowns, with Lou Fanucchi catching 5 of those for 174 yards and 2 scores.
BoiseState ventured to Little
Rock, Arkansas, for its first-ever meeting with a Southeastern Conference team.Razorback coach Houston Nutt had coached one season in Boise (1997) and is widely credited with turning around the Bronco program
after a disastrous 2-10 season in 1996.Prior
to the game, Nutt called Hendricks over to the sideline and said to Hendricks
(whom he recruited) "Soon I'll be seeing you play on Sundays."The conversation must have rattled Hendricks because he was not his
typical highly-accurate self in the first quarter.Hendricks threw high, low, and two passes directly to Arkansas
defenders, one of which was returned 39 yards for the game's first touchdown
by Eddie Jackson.
Because of Hendricks' ineffectiveness, Arkansas
shot out to a 24-0 lead and observers felt it must be a mismatch between a
superior SEC team and a game BoiseState team that was simply over their heads.A combination of the Bronco defense stiffening and the offense beginning
to come off of life support resulted in consecutive Nick Calaycay field goals of
26 and 33 yards that closed the half with the lead cut to 24-6.
BoiseState opened the third quarter with a nice drive that ended with fullback Shay
Swan clutching a two-yard pass from Hendricks for a touchdown.Hendricks and Fanucchi teamed up for a two-point conversion and it was
24-14.An exchange of punts followed
once again hit paydirt with remaining in the quarter.The
Hogs were now up 31-14 and again it looked like they were going to overpower
their opponent from the Big West.Arkansas
kicked off, and it was a booming boot that David Mikell caught at the 2-yard
line.Mikell spurted up behind the
Bronco wall, hit the sideline, and was off for a 98-yard answer that made the
After another Bronco defensive stand, the Broncos
moved to the Arkansas 24 where Calaycay was true on his third field goal of the game.BoiseState had
moved within 7 points at 31-24.Arkansas
knew they were in a game now but their offense once again could not move the
ball and were forced to kick.Hendricks
led the Broncos down the field and when running back Brock Forsey sailed into
the end zone with a 42-yard pass from Hendricks, the game was tied.
came back though and when wide receiver Boo Williams slipped behind the Bronco
secondary for a 54-yard touchdown from quarterback Robby Hampton, the Razorbacks
pulled out in front again 38-31 with just minutes remaining.Hendricks calmly led BoiseState
down the field.On their first set
of downs, BoiseState
had a fourth-and-eight on their 22.Arkansas
pressure came up the middle.Hendricks
scrambled to his right and with a Hog defender hitting him as he threw, hit wide
receiver Andre Banks just past the 30 for a first down.Hendricks then fired to Fanucchi twice on the sideline for 12 and 7-yard
completions that gave the Broncos a first down at the Arkansas
the next play, Banks found a seam in the Hog secondary and Hendricks threw a
strike to him over the middle.Banks
was hit by #24, slowing him down to where #6 could make the tackle.On a play he very well could have scored on, Banks nonetheless had the
Broncos in business with a first down at the Arkansas
9-yard line with 59 seconds remaining.The
crowd was frantic, desperately urging their team to hold these upstarts from Boise.Forsey carried for no gain on first down.On second-and-goal, Hendricks backed up and was once again hit as he
threw.His pass fell into the turf
in front of Banks at the 4, who could have waltzed into the end zone as no one
was within 10 yards of him.Bart's
next pass was nearly picked off by a blitzing Razorback on an attempted screen.It was fourth down.
time, Hendricks received excellent protection and fired a shot to Jay Swillie on
the left sideline.Swillie caught it
and tried to stretch the ball over the goal line.Instead, he was pushed out of bounds at the one-foot line and Arkansas
won 38-31. It was a game effort by the 2000 Bronco football team that fell just short.
finished 23-of-48 for 304 yards and 2 scores.Forsey led the ground attack with 21 carries for 73 yards.Cedric Cobbs, the amazing tailback for Arkansas,
had 31 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown.Fanucchi was the top receiver with 6 catches for 61 yards while Jeb Putzier had 5 receptions for 61.
disappointed that they did not get a win in Little
did not hang their heads.Instead,
they went into Central
and dealt the Chippewas their worst home loss in history (47-10).BoiseState
had 515 yards of total offense to just 268 for Central Michigan.Forsey ran for 74 yards on 17 carries while Hendricks connected on 13 of
21 passes for 3 touchdowns.
Broncos were in Pullman, Washington
the following week for a date with WashingtonState.A WSU crowd of 25,129 was on hand that featured thousands of Bronco fans.BoiseState
took the opening kickoff and marched down the field with Forsey snaring a
21-yard pass from Hendricks for the 7-0 lead.Cougar quarterback Jason Gesser snuck in to tie the score but the Broncos
once again drove down the field to regain the upper hand.Hendricks floated a short pass to tight end Robby Snelling for the TD.
dominated the second quarter with 2 Anousith Wilaikul field goals and a 14-yard
TD pass from Gesser to Collin Henderson.WSU
tried a two-point conversion on the latter score that failed.Determined BoiseState
came back just 35 seconds later with a 46-yard field goal from Calaycay that
narrowed the score to 19-17 with 2 seconds left in the half.
Cougars tried to pull away in the beginning of the third quarter as well with a
two-yard run from Adam Hawkins and another Wilaikul field goal.But after an exchange of punts, Hendricks drove the Broncos down the
field, hitting Davey Malaythong with a 9-yard pass that brought the Broncos
within 5 at 29-24.WashingtonState
extended the lead to 35-24 with another 10-yard TD pass from Gesser and once
again the 2-point conversion was unsuccessful.
showed it was every bit the equal of WashingtonState
with two consecutive scoring drives.Calaycay
booted a field goal when a Bronco drive stalled at the WSU 10 and when Fanucchi
looked in a 12-yard pass from Hendricks in the end zone, BoiseState
was down 35-33.Coach Koetter went
for the two-pointer and saw his Broncos convert as Hendricks threw to Swan to
tie the game with
on the clock with a devastating ball-control drive that resulted in the
final statistics were as close as the game.WSU had 22 first downs to 21 for BoiseState;
the Broncos outgained the Cougars 139-131 on the ground and 335-290 through the
air.Hendricks finished 24-41 while
Gesser was 21-31.Forsey had 15
carries for 75 yards while Malaythong reeled off a 53-yard run to set up .Putzier
had 7 receptions for 135 yards and gave the Cougars fits with his rare
combination of size and speed.The
difference in this one was time of possession, which heavily favored the home
team 34:14 to 25:46.
returned home and posted their 10th consecutive win in Bronco Stadium
with a 41-23 win over their old Big Sky Conference rival Eastern
25th win as a Division I-A school.A Bronco Stadium crowd of 25,493 saw Hendricks hit 18 of 33 passes for
312 yards and 4 touchdowns.Swillie
caught 5 passes for 104 yards, Putzier grabbed 4 for 66 and a touchdown and
Fanucchi had 3 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown.Quintin Mikell's 126 yards on punt returns set a Bronco record.
following week, Coach Koetter's team exploded for a 59-0 win over North
Texas.The two teams had risen from the Division I-AA ranks together and were
now both in the Big West.In 1994, BoiseState
had squeaked out a 24-20 win over the Mean Green in the opening round of the
I-AA playoffs.In 1999, the Broncos
lost a frustrating 17-10 game in Texas.
time, it was no contest as BoiseState
recorded its 20th shutout win as a four-year school.Mikell scored three touchdowns on the ground and Hendricks tossed three
TD passes to lead the Bronco rout.Cornerback
Julius Brown also scored on a 47-yard interception return late in the game.The Bronco defense held the Mean Green to just 42 yards passing and 162
yards of total offense.Brown and
his cohorts limited North Texas to 3-of-20 through the
Coach Koetter's offense was clicking to the tune of 583 yards.Mikell finished the game with 22 carries for 122 yards.Hendricks was 16-of-24 for 257 yards and reserve quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie came in and was a perfect 4-of-4.Putzier finished with 5 catches for 79 yards while Swillie gathered 4
receptions for 82.Both of the
talented receivers had two touchdowns.
was a sizzling 23-of-36 passing for 375 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead BoiseState
to a thrilling 34-31 win on the road at New
trio of great receivers did considerable damage to the Aggies.Fanucchi caught 6 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, Putzier also
hauled in 6 for 96 and Swillie had 5 catches for 109 and a TD.Forsey led the Bronco ground game with 23 carries for 106 yards and
also caught a 10-yard scoring strike from Hendricks.
Broncos scored another conference road victory with a 42-14 win at ArkansasState,
as Forsey ran for 136 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a 49-yard pass
from Hendricks.Hendricks was
19-of-27 for 291 yards for the Broncos, also clicking on scoring strikes to
Banks and Malaythong.
next game resulted in a landmark 250th win for the Broncos as a
66-38.Hendricks had another amazing
performance for the Broncos, connecting on 21-of-29 passes for 391 yards and 4
touchdowns.Forsey rumbled for 95
yards on the ground to lead BoiseState.The 2 teams combined for 1,336 yards of total offense in the wild game in
Bronco Stadium.Fanucchi was the top
receiver with 6 receptions for 151 yards.
Broncos closed out the year with a 66-24 win over Idaho
to clinch BoiseState's
second straight Big West Conference title, eighth overall conference
championship and sixth overall undefeated conference season.BoiseState
ended its short run in the Big West Conference with a record of 16-10.Hendricks led the onslaught with five touchdown passes.Bart was 20-of-30 passing for 405 yards.Swillie had 6 receptions for 75 yards, Robbie Snelling fooled the Vandal
defense for 5 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown and deep threat Fanucchi
chipped in with 4 catches for 88 yards and another score.The Broncos also devastated Idaho
with 6 sacks.
the second straight year, BoiseState
would be playing in the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl.It was ironic that the opponent would be UTEP, a team from the very
conference that BoiseState
would be joining the following year (the WAC).It was a good test of how the Broncos would fare in their new league.BoiseState
prevailed in a 38-23 win that was nationally televised on ESPN2 for BoiseState's
second straight Division I bowl win and 14th straight win in Bronco Stadium.
Hendricks' thrilling 77-yard run up the middle led the Broncos' 2nd-half surge.He also scored another rushing touchdown, threw a TD to Swillie and even
caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Banks late in the game.Hendricks finished the game 17-of-29 passing for 247 yards.All told, the two-time Big West Conference Player of the Year closed out
his great Bronco career with 315 yards of total offense.
lessons from 2000 are these:
can overcome all odds if you believe in yourself (and your teammates).
excited about an impending conference change, the first order of business is to
focus only on the season at hand.
game with a high-caliber school like Arkansas
is a great opportunity to be sure.But
a loss isn't the end of the world.Despite
a heartbreaking defeat, the team persevered and finished the year with just two
losses.In other words, don't put
all the stakes on one game.The 2005
team reeled from the Georgia
loss; the 2000 Broncos was not phased by the loss to Arkansas
and in fact got stronger as the season progressed.