- Rebuilding Virginia stunned Boise State on its home turf Friday night, handing the Broncos a 19-point nationally televised loss.
Nobody subjects Boise State to a beatdown on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium. Nobody. It just doesn’t happen. The Broncos entered this season having lost just six times at home since 2000, and only one of those (a 41–20 loss to Washington State in ‘01) came by double digits. And out of all the Power 5 opponents they’ve hosted over the years, no one would have expected a rebuilding Virginia team to be the one to deliver a nationally televised embarrassment.
But that’s exactly what the Cavaliers did on Friday night, steamrolling their way to a 42–23 win as Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns, Jordan Ellis ran for two more scores and blue-and-orange-clad fans trudged toward the exits early. Virginia entered the game as 13.5-point underdogs, according to OddsShark, but Bronco Mendenhall’s team turned on the afterburners in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points after Boise State cut the deficit to seven just before the break.
The result is no doubt an encouraging sign for Mendenhall’s turnaround of a UVA program that has been mired in the ACC basement for most of this decade and now sits at 3–1. But the shock and awe of the evening belonged on the opposite sideline, where it’s starting to set in that this year’s Boise State team is nowhere close to the potential giant-killers the program has produced for most of this century.
The Broncos mustered just 15 rushing yards, and the return of starting quarterback Brett Rypien from a head injury he suffered in a heartbreaking loss to Washington State did not lend the offense much more consistency through the air. Boise State didn’t look to have improved much from last week’s sloppy win over New Mexico with backup Montell Cozart under center, and Virginia made the Broncos pay.
After that 2001 Washington State loss, you have to go all the way back to the opening game of the 1997 season, Boise State’s second year as a Division I-A program, to find a home loss as bad as the one Virginia inflicted. That year, Cal State Northridge pasted the Broncos 63–23 in Boise, only to later forfeit the win for using three ineligible players. Boise State’s coach that year? Houston Nutt, making a one-year stopover out west before taking the Arkansas job.
Bryan Harsin’s fourth year in charge is off to an almost unprecedentedly rough start.