UCF Knights vs Boise State Broncos, 9/9/2023, 5pm

UCF 18 – CSU 16, Attendance: 36,387

Weather: Sunny, 88; Ticket: $60 Zorro, Face: $56, Parking: $0

“Blue Field, Blue Sky, Good Times” by Tree

The Logistics:

Boise State is located, not surprisingly, in Boise, Idaho. While it is the state capital, the total population is below a quarter of a million. It feels like a big, small town. You can drive up from Salt Lake City, but it is about a five-hour drive. We drove over from Idaho Falls after driving down through the Grand Tetons as part of a visit to Yellowstone. Unless you are going to do that, I recommend flying into Boise. The Boise airport is serviceable but if you are coming anywhere outside the Mountain West, you probably won’t be getting a direct flight.

Once in the city, it was very easy to get around. We stayed at an Airbnb about a mile’s walk from Boise State. It made it easy to walk to the stadium. Very near the campus there is a nice park that runs along the Boise River. We really didn’t spend too much time at restaurants/bars but there looked to be plenty of good places. We did manage to hit the “Art in the Park” festival Saturday morning. There were tons of vendors, and we spent the whole morning there. My wife had a great time, and she was more than happy to skip the tailgating and game after the busy morning. In short, Boise was easy to get around and I felt very safe walking to and from campus. I wouldn’t really categorize it as a college town, but it is nice enough. The only downside to visiting Boise is the process of getting there.

The Site:

Luckily, I had connected to a couple of tailgates via Reddit. My new friend Kyle had secured me an invite to Dustin’s tailgate. This group was great. They were grilling, drinking, and playing cornhole. Oddly enough, Dustin is a co-host of the herwegobrownies.com podcast. (Surprisingly, as a Steeler fan, I enjoy hanging out with Browns fans – It’s like playing sports with your kid brother – you know you will almost never lose to them. And, it’s not like they can say – “What about the Indians, err Guardians”). Dustin and his crew were great. They were so great that I had to invoke a Somanystadiums rule – Never leave a tailgate where you are having a good time. It meant that I gave the stiff arm to the other tailgates I had invitations to, but I am sure the Blue and White club along with Zorro’s gang didn’t miss me a bit. Besides, I couldn’t leave when Kyle’s wife, Jamie, and I were dominating the cornhole game. As always, it was nice to go undefeated on game day.

Other highlights of the tailgating included meeting Doug and touring his customized Winnebago that he has been tailgating in for over 25 years. In general, the tailgating was good. I have seen better, but for a school the size of Boise, the passion and gear were impressive enough.

One thing that was not impressive was the line to get into the stadium. I am not sure how many gates they had opened but standing fifteen minutes in line ensured I would miss the big opening. With a capacity of roughly 36,000, Albertsons Stadium is on the small side. Its size combined with video scoreboards over each endzone ensures that every seat is a good one. They are mostly bleachers with seatbacks on seats from 40 yard line to 40 yard line. There are also video ribbons around the stadium and new LED lighting which can be used for customized displays. I did not get to see that as I will explain later. The restrooms were okay, except for the port-a-potties they had inside the stadium. I would avoid those if you could. The concessions seemed standard, with a decent souvenir cup. They have added a local corner that rotates local vendors. The highlight of the concessions was the pizza cone. It was an ingenious way to eat a slice of pizza. It’s no BYU Cougar Tail, but I still give it a big thumbs up.

It is true that there does not seem to be many traditions at Albertsons. They have the “Boise” – “State” cross stadium cheer, and the “Another Boise First Down”. It may even be “Bronco” in that cheer; I can’t remember. They do have a horse whinnying after the first down cheer. It was the only unusual thing about those common cheers. The fans are loud though. It helps when you can fill up a small stadium. The fan attire is standard: jeans, t-shirts, tennis shorts, often with cowboy hat and boots. They are the Broncos after all. I did not see their mascot, Buster, walking around. It was strange because I have seen Boise as the visiting team four times and Buster always seemed to show up. Being a small school, they have lots of bits with the students, from kicking field goals to racing the kicking tee fetching Labrador retriever. What Boise does have is that famous blue field. It was a “blue out” for the game, and the fans did well in that regard. Even better, the team wore all blue and it seemed to be a bit of an advantage because they really blended into the turf.

The Game:

This was a great game of two evenly matched foes with Boise only a 3.5-point favorite as the host. The game was well played. Central Florida moved the ball better but struggled to put it into the endzone. Luckily for UCF they had an excellent kicker, Boomer Colton, who went four for four on the day. However, Boise’s kicker was good too. Each of them kicked field goals of 55 yards or more at the end of the first half. That made the half-time score 10-9 Boise State.
After trading interceptions in the third quarter, the teams continued to swap field position. In the fourth quarter, there was a literal points explosion with each team managing to score a touchdown but failing to convert the two-point conversion. Boise’s missing the conversion was big. Had they scored, they would have gone up 18 – 15 with a minute remaining. Instead, it was 16-15 with UCF’s big footed Boomer waiting in the wings. Still, UCF was going to have to start from the twenty-yard line. Unfortunately, the Broncos had struggled to stop the Knights’ round table of runners all day. It was unusual to see a one-minute drive down the field led primarily by toting the rock, but that’s what Central Florida did. With ice in his veins, UCF’s kicker boomed the 40-yard kick to end the game. The blue field was, indeed, blue.

Personal Notes:

While waiting in the concessions line, I noticed the young woman ahead of me was wearing the standard uniform of Boise blue cowboy hat and tank top with a white tennis skirt, but had mixed it up with some cute (and practical) orange and blue Chucks. I thought it would be a good contrast to the photo of fans sporting cowboy boots I had taken earlier in the day. When I asked her if I could take a photo of her shoes, I noticed a bit of wobble with her “Yes” reply. It wasn’t much longer that she made a slight stagger to a garbage can, peered over it, and then staggered back to her place in line. This was when I saw that this poor kid could barely be eighteen and clearly had been overserved. I had seen this movie before and knew what was coming next. Sure enough, the line moved closer, she spied the restroom, made a brief calculation and was gone. I am not saying she puked all over the bathroom, but I would say it was 99-1 that she did. At least it wasn’t on me – score one for the youth of today.

I had mentioned earlier that I missed LED light show. The reason why is because I had to leave the game near the end of the third quarter to take my wife to the ER. She had texted me that one side of her face was swollen and tender to the touch. I held my breath and texted that it was probably a bug bite. My suggestion to get some Benadryl and ride it out was not met with enthusiasm. She said it was not a bite and that she was going to call “Ask a Nurse.” My heart sunk. I was now in the hands of a telemarketing nurse who undoubtedly would not take into consideration any of my concerns, namely not leaving the game. There really should be some sort big/close game exception clause to the Hippocratic Oath. My biggest fear would be that she was advised to go to the Emergency Room. In my experience, unless you are bleeding uncontrollably, such trips usually end up unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming.

The Ask-a-Nurse told my wife it was likely a blocked saliva gland and that she should “probably” go to the ER. With that, my fate was sealed. The cure for this blockage is, per google, to eat some lemons and suck on some hard candy to clear your glands. No kidding. Nonetheless, I had to leave the game, walk back to the Airbnb and then drive her five minutes to the ER where after an hour and a half, the doctor says “yeah, blocked saliva gland – eat some lemons and suck on some hard candy.” I traveled halfway across the country to hear this, instead of seeing a tension packed fourth quarter end with a game winning field goal. Sigh – that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

The ”Boise Bulging Cheek Episode” aside, going to see a game with the Broncos is a blast. There are a couple of challenges. One is getting there, and the other is the high cost of tailgating. However, everything else pretty much lines up. Nice stadium, a usually strong program, and great fans all make Boise a good spot to see a game. But let’s be honest, it really is about the blue field. It may seem like a minor thing, but it truly is iconic. Any decent college football fan can tell you in an instant who plays on the blue field. It is not the only reason to visit Boise State, but it is the reason why it is a must see for any true fan.

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