Last year, in the midst of arguably their worst season in 15 years, the Broncos took Fresno State to the wire in their house in what objectively was Fresno's best season in that same time span. In defeat, the Broncos still sent a message about the state of the rivalry: your best is this much (holds thumb and forefinger one centimeter apart) better than our worst—good luck with that. In short, last season's semi-expected loss should have been nothing more than a blip—not a fluke exactly, but far from finding company with death and taxes. The 2013 loss at Fresno was a bitter pill to swallow...it upset the natural order of things, but the Broncos can put Fresno back in their place this Friday and need to do so or this season cannot even sniff a "succesful" tag.
Boise State used to be the bullies of the WAC, with a string of unbeaten conference seasons under their belt. The Mountain West has worn a bit of the invincibility off, but Boise State is still considered to be a marquee win for conference foes. With that, comes a rather sizeable target. Boise State is going to get each team's best shot, and need to respond in kind. Last season, Boise State rolled into Fresno in an unfamiliar underdog role and actually rose to the occasion. This season, Fresno has fallen back to earth, but will come into Boise hoping to play spoiler and cement the program role reversal that Boise State started back in 2001. Boise State cannot let that happen.
Boise State has a rare opportunity over the next two Fridays. Exorcise painful demons from last season...do it in front of a home crowd—and spring board themselves back into the title discussion. Boise State won't get this opportunity in cross-divisional play next year—they must put right what once went wrong (and yes, that is lifted directly from the opening credits of Quantum Leap) and re-establish the pecking order. Sure, the Air Force game was damaging to that aura...but that had a much larger air of flukiness than consecutive losses to the defending conference champ-turned-also-ran would. And on that note, 3 straight losses to SDSU would cease to be a fluke as well, so I guess you could say the Broncos have a pretty important month ahead of them. No pressure.