Nov 29, 2019; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Boise State Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin before the game against the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Auburn to hire Boise State’s Harsin

Auburn is finalizing a deal to hire Boise State’s Bryan Harsin as its next head coach, according to multiple reports Tuesday night.

Harsin will succeed Gus Malzahn, who was fired earlier this month after leading the program for eight years. Malzahn led the Tigers to the national championship game in 2013 but struggled to maintain a powerhouse since then, and the Tigers finished 6-4 this season.

The 44-year-old Harsin also replaced Malzahn at Arkansas State in 2013. He spent one season there, winning a share of the Sun Belt title, before moving on to Boise State and posting six consecutive seasons with 10-plus victories.

Harsin won three Mountain West Conference titles and boasts a 69-19 record with the Broncos. Boise State lost to San Jose State in the MWC championship game this season and opted out of the bowl schedule because of COVID-19 concerns.

“These young men have been through a lot this season,” Harsin said in a statement from Boise State. “COVID protocols required them to be away from their families for most of the season, and they understandably want to go home and be with their families for the holidays.”

Other candidates for Auburn’s top job included Hugh Freeze of Liberty and Kevin Steele, who served as the Tigers’ defensive coordinator this season and was named as interim coach after Malzahn’s exit.

Auburn is set to face No. 14 Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose State Spartans running back Tyler Nevens (23) is tackled by UNLV Rebels defensive back Bryce Jackson (24) during the fourth quarter at CEFCU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose State embraces ‘biggest game’ against Boise State

San Jose State is just two years removed from a 1-11 campaign, so excuse the No. 24 Spartans if they are a little bit giddy to be playing conference power Boise State in the Mountain West championship game Saturday in Las Vegas.

San Jose State (6-0, 6-0 MW) is typically a punching bag for the Broncos, who have won all 14 all-time meetings. The Spartans also are attempting to start 7-0 for the first time since the school’s 1939 squad went unbeaten in 13 contests.

The program last had a winning record in 2012 — its final campaign in the Western Athletic Conference before joining the Mountain West — and San Jose State coach Brian Brennan’s name is suddenly in the coaching speculation mill (with Arizona) despite having an 8-29 mark with the Spartans before this season.

“We are climbing the mountain, and that’s all I’m worried about right now. That’s it,” Brennan said, swiping off rumor chat. “This team, moving forward, is playing in the biggest game in the history of our school.”

The “biggest game” tag fits in the eyes of junior defensive end Cade Hall, who has a team-leading eight sacks this season to earn Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors.

“Being on a team that was 1-11 and then being where we’re at now feels really good because we’ve been on both sides,” Hall told reporters. “We’ve put in the work to try and turn this thing around. It feels great.”

San Jose State is the host team for the game in Sam Boyd Stadium because it recently relocated its program to Las Vegas due to Santa Clara County’s restrictions on contact sports because of the COVID-19 surge in the area.

San Jose State and the Broncos (5-1, 5-0) were scheduled to play in Boise on Nov. 28 but the contest was scrapped just hours before kickoff due to COVID-19 issues in the Boise State program. The Mountain West declared the game a no-contest.

The Broncos have continued to have COVID-19 issues and played short-handed — only two quarterbacks suited up — and without multiple assistant coaches for last Saturday’s 17-9 win in the snow at Wyoming.

“It’s tough,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said earlier this week. “I can tell you that. We had some of our players doing things coaches normally do.”

The Broncos have won three straight games since being trounced 51-17 by then-No. 9 BYU on Nov. 6 in Boise.

Though Boise State typically has few issues with the Spartans — six of the wins are by at least 35 points — Harsin is concerned about the latest matchup.

“It is all San Jose State. We are focused on what we have to do this week to play against a very good team,” Harsin said. “San Jose State is good. We have done some good things this season. We got to get ourselves ready.

“This is why you work so hard to be in a game like this and play for a championship.”

Quarterback Hank Bachmeier has passed for 929 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions in four games for a Boise State offense averaging a Mountain West-leading 36.2 points per game. Receiver Khalil Shakir had 46 catches for 634 yards and six touchdowns.

The Broncos allow 26.0 points per game with standout all-conference cornerback Avery Williams also being named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight season. Williams scored three special teams’ touchdowns this season — two on kickoff returns, and one on a blocked punt that he returned for a touchdown.

In his career, Williams has returned five punts and three kickoffs for scores.

The Spartans are averaging 30.3 points on offense while limiting opponents to 17.5 points per game. San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel, a transfer from Arkansas, has passed for 1,453 yards and 13 touchdowns and been intercepted just four times.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Boise State Broncos cornerback Avery Williams (26) scores an eighty eight yard kickoff return in the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

More COVID-19 issues cause Boise State to cancel vs. San Jose State

A key Mountain West contest between San Jose State and host Boise State was canceled Saturday due to increasing COVID-19 cases in the Boise State program.

The Mountain West announcement the cancellation and declared it a no-contest.

“Due to an upward trend of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing within the Boise State program, the Broncos are unable to participate in the game on Nov. 28 vs. San Jose State,” the Mountain West said in a statement. “Therefore, the MW is canceling the game and declaring it a no-contest. There is no plan to reschedule.”

Boise State has had major COVID-19 issues in recent weeks. The Broncos played a game against Colorado State on Nov. 12 with 14 players out due to COVID-19 protocols and had 12 players sidelined for a Nov. 21 game at Hawaii.

Leading up to the San Jose State game, reports had the Broncos with five players testing positive and four others out due to contact tracing.

However, the number could be much higher as Boise State was still sorting through lab results late Friday night before deciding Saturday morning that it couldn’t move forward with playing the game.

“Because of a delay at the lab, our results from Thursday’s tests didn’t come back until late yesterday, which meant our staff were contact tracing until late last night,” interim athletic director Bob Carney said in a statement. “Under the circumstances, and with limited numbers within specific position groups, our coaches, administration and medical personnel met this morning and determined that it was not in the best interest of our student-athletes’ safety and well-being to play today’s game.

“I am disappointed for the student-athletes, coaches and fans, both at Boise State and San Jose State, and am hopeful the Broncos will be able to return to the field (on Dec. 4) against UNLV.”

The Spartans (4-0, 4-0 Mountain West), who are enjoying a surprisingly strong season, were dejected over the cancellation of the game against Boise State (4-1, 4-0).

“We arrived in Boise on Friday and learned this news Saturday morning,” San Jose State athletic director Marie Tuite said in a statement. “Our players and coaches were looking forward to this game with great anticipation. It is a big disappointment to everyone that we are not able to play this game.”

The Spartans are next slated to play at home on Dec. 5 against Hawaii.

–Field Level Media

Oct 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) warms up before a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State plays Colorado State despite 14 COVID-19 cases

Boise State was without 14 players due to COVID-19 protocols for Thursday night’s home game against Colorado State.

According to the school, nine players tested positive and five others are missing the game due to contact tracing.

Last Friday, the Broncos had four players sit out due to COVID-19 protocols for their 51-17 home loss against BYU.

Also, sophomore quarterback Hank Bachmeier started against Colorado State after missing the last two games due to unspecified reasons. Bachmeier started the season opener against Utah State and passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-13 victory.

Junior Jack Sears started Boise State’s past two games but suffered a head injury against BYU. He didn’t suit up versus the Rams.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2018; Boise, ID, United States; A general view of  Albertsons Stadium prior to the start of the 2018 Idaho Potato Bowl between BYU and Western Michigan. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson, No. 9 BYU blow out No. 21 Boise State

Zach Wilson passed for 359 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score as No. 9 BYU rolled to a convincing 51-17 road victory over No. 21 Boise State in nonconference play on Friday night.

Tyler Allgeier scored on an 86-yard run as part of a 123-yard, two-touchdown outing and Isaac Rex caught two touchdown passes for the Cougars (8-0), who continued their best start since the 2001 squad won its first 12 games.

BYU had five touchdown drives of at least 72 yards — including excursions of 95 and 96 yards — while winning at Boise State (2-1) for the first time in six visits.

Wilson, who initially committed to the Broncos in the summer of 2017 before later reneging, completed 21 of 27 passes as the Cougars outgained Boise State 573 yards to 310. Lopini Katoa also rushed for a touchdown for BYU.

The 34-point margin of defeat represents the worst home loss for Boise State this century.

Broncos quarterback Jack Sears departed with an apparent head injury with 8:25 left in the first quarter. Sears completed all four of his passes for 41 yards before leaving.

Usual starter Hank Bachmeier missed his second straight game for undisclosed reasons. Boise State announced that four players missed Friday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols but didn’t divulge identities.

Cade Fennegan replaced Sears and completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and one fumble. Fennegan tossed fourth-quarter touchdowns of 52 and 46 yards, both to Khalil Shakir, who had 10 receptions for 139 yards.

BYU wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Allgeier shed a tackler at the line of scrimmage on the team’s second offensive play and raced down the center of the field for the 86-yard score. It was the Cougars’ longest run since Mike Hague ran for an 87-yard score against UNLV in 2006.

Sears left three-plus minutes later during a 16-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal by Jonah Dalmas with 3:27 remaining in the first.

Jake Oldroyd booted a 47-yard field goal at the outset of the second quarter to give BYU a 10-3 lead. Wilson scored on a 4-yard run with one minute left in the half to cap an eight-play, 96-yard drive. Boise State’s Scott Matlock blocked the extra point.

The Cougars drove 86 yards on five plays to start a 22-point third quarter. Wilson tossed back-to-back 38-yard completions to Dax Milne and Gunner Romney (six receptions, 133 yards) before hitting Rex on a 5-yard scoring pass to make it 23-3 with 12:48 left in the third quarter.

Wilson connected with Rex on a 20-yard touchdown and tacked on a two-point throw to Neil Pau’u with 6:57 left in the stanza. Katoa scored on a 20-yard scamper to make it 38-3 with 1:26 remaining in the third, and BYU went on to the victory.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Jack Sears (16) dives in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State QB Sears leaves game with injury

Boise State junior quarterback Jack Sears departed Friday night’s contest against No. 9 BYU due to an apparent head injury suffered in the first quarter.

Sears was injured on a quarterback sneak and appeared woozy when he got up. An official noticed and sent him to the Broncos’ sideline with 8:25 left in the quarter.

Sears was taken to the locker room to be evaluated. He returned to the Boise State sideline early in the second quarter without his helmet.

True freshman Cade Fennegan replaced Sears for No. 21 Boise State. Sears was 4-of-4 passing for 41 yards before exiting.

Normal starter Hank Bachmeier missed his second straight game. The school hasn’t revealed why the sophomore is sidelined.

However, Boise State said four players were missing Friday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols. Bachmeier was one of two players who didn’t travel to last Saturday’s game at Air Force when the school said one player was sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The other player, safety JL Skinner, was back on the field for the Broncos against BYU.

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) throws against Texas State in the first half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Provo, Utah.  Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK

Undefeated squads meet as No. 9 BYU visits No. 21 Boise State

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson once was intent on winning lots of game on the blue turf in Boise.

Now the star junior’s goal is to lead the Cougars to their first-ever win in six visits to Boise State when No. 9 BYU faces the No. 21 Broncos on Friday night.

Wilson committed to play at Boise State in June 2017 but reneged on his pledge six months later when schools such as BYU and Iowa made late offers. He chose the Cougars and rapidly moved up the depth chart, becoming the starter during his freshman season.

Two years later, he is soaring up the list of top college quarterbacks, and some draft experts have him as a top-10 overall pick if he should enter the NFL draft after this season.

Wilson regularly earns raves for his stellar accuracy — on long throws as well as short and medium range — as he has completed 74.6 percent of his passes this season. He has passed for 2,152 yards and 19 touchdowns against just two interceptions while helping BYU to its first 7-0 start since 2001.

This contest will be Wilson’s second visit to Boise as a member of the Cougars. The other came when BYU lost 21-16 on Nov. 3, 2018. Wilson guided the Cougars from their own 17-yard line to the Boise State 2 on a last-ditch drive before being sacked on the final play of the game.

Nearly three years after backing out of the commitment, Wilson is well aware that some Boise State fans still harbor disdain for him, but he said he is solely focused on this week’s matchup.

“I’m not reflecting on the past at all,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a new team and they have a new team two years later. It’s a great opportunity for us, and they’ve got a good football team over at Boise and they do well at home, as well so it’s a big week for us preparation-wise. This is a good football team we are going to face, and we’ve got to give them our best shot.”

Boise State (2-0) faces uncertainty at the quarterback position after sophomore starter Hank Bachmeier didn’t travel with the team Saturday to a 49-30 victory over Air Force.

Broncos coach Bryan Harsin declined to shed light on the reason for Bachmeier’s absence. The school did reveal that one player missed the game due to a positive COVID-19 test. Sophomore starting safety JL Skinner also was left home, but it remains unknown which Boise State player tested positive.

What is known is junior transfer Jack Sears was superb in Bachmeier’s place, completing 17 of 20 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing for a score. CBS Sports Network reported during the game broadcast that Sears learned last Tuesday that he would start against Air Force.

Regardless, the former Southern California quarterback was ready for the assignment, immediately proving it with a 75-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver CT Thomas on the game’s first offensive play.

“Obviously, great to get out there and play and get a win as a Bronco and help out this program,” Sears said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been preparing like I’m a starter, just being ready, next-man-up mentality. So once they gave me the green light, I was ready to go.”

The Friday contest figures to be a high-scoring affair as Boise State averaged 45.5 points (third in the nation) and 454.5 yards (22nd) during its two first games, while BYU is averaging 44.4 points (seventh) and 527.7 yards (sixth). The Cougars have topped 40 points in six of their first seven games for the first time in program history.

In a 41-10 victory over Western Kentucky last Saturday, Wilson passed for a season-low 224 yards and had his school-record streak of consecutive passes without an interception halted at 184.

Cougars coach Kalani Sitake believes playing at Boise State will be a big challenge for his team.

“That’s going to be a tough one, and I’m looking forward to that matchup,” Sitake said. “I’m happy that our guys are playing well, but it doesn’t really matter now. We’ve got to get ready for the next game.”

BYU beat the Broncos 28-25 last season in Provo, Utah, even though Wilson was sidelined with a broken thumb on his right (throwing) hand.

–Field Level Media

Oct 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) warms up before a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State QB Bachmeier sidelined vs. Air Force

Boise State sophomore quarterback Hank Bachmeier didn’t travel with the team and missed Saturday’s road game at Air Force.

Sophomore starting safety JL Skinner also missed the Mountain West contest.

No. 25 Boise State reportedly confirmed one player missed the game due to a positive COVID-19 test but didn’t reveal the identity.

Transfer Jack Sears, a former Southern California starter, took Bachmeier’s place. Sears threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver CT Thomas on the game’s first offensive play.

Sears, a fourth-year junior, started one game for USC. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions during a 38-35 loss to Arizona State on Oct. 27, 2018.

Air Force sophomore quarterback Haaziq Daniels departed the game in the first quarter with an injury. Junior Warren Bryan replaced him.

–Field Level Media

Week 11 College Football Picks: Fresno Over Boise, Washington State A Short Road Favorite And More

Each week we’ll be providing our top college football picks. Season Record: 17-13.

This week we have six plays, including Fresno State laying a short number on the road in Boise and fading Duke as a big favorite.

Also check out our NFL Week 10 “Lookahead Lines” story, finding value (or not) by comparing earlier lines, and identifying recency bias. Back to the college game:

Week 11 College Football Picks: Fresno State Bulldogs -2.5 at Boise State, Fading Duke, And More Miami Dominance Over Georgia Tech

Fresno State -2.5 over Boise State (Friday)

This is a huge game in the Mountain West Conference. Fresno State is 8-1 and Boise State 7-2. It might be surprising to see the Broncos as the home dog here but there’s a reason for it. Fresno State is just a much better team.

The Bulldogs are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings and won last year in Boise 28-17. Boise State has already lost at home to San Diego State and its offense struggles against better defenses. Fresno State is holding conference opponents to 93 yards below their season average, while quarterbacks hit just 48 percent of their passes against the Bulldogs.

A Las Vegas oddsmaker recently stated he would make Fresno State around a field goal favorite over UCF on a neutral field. The Bulldogs are the best non-Power 5 team this season. There’s value taking the Bulldogs under a field goal. They should win rather easily on the road in a showcase game.



Read more Week 11 College Football Picks: Fresno Over Boise, Washington State A Short Road Favorite And More on SportsHandle.