It may not pop up in national conversations with the likes of Michigan-Ohio State, Auburn-Alabama or Oklahoma-Texas, but in the state of Idaho it is the biggest game of the year and the intensity on either side takes it far beyond the football field.
Boise State-Idaho. Vandals-Broncos. North-South. Blue-Black. Gold-Orange.
It is the definition of a rivalry. One that splits families for a week, sparks office debate, moves into the political realm and finally culminates with two teams on the football field for three hours that produces a year's worth of talking.
Idaho enters Saturday's game with a 7-3 record and in the midst of their best season in 11 years. Boise State is 9-0 and ranked 6th nationally. Vandal athletic director Rob Spear drove nearly 90 miles out of his way just to avoid flying on the Boise State painted airplane on his trip to Boise for the game. Bronco running back Doug Martin has been asked numerous times this week already about the hammer slamming incident pre-game in Moscow last year. All things that get the juice pumping on a good old fashioned rivalry, one that will take center stage on Saturday and in front of a national television audience for the first time in series history.
The Rivalry Begins
The Bronco-Vandal rivalry received an instant kick-start on September 11, 1971, in Idaho's home opener. But, ironically, it was played at Bronco Stadium, as the Vandals rented Boise State's facility with the Idaho home field being under construction. The Broncos didn't serve as friendly guests with Boise State winning 42-14 . Quarterback Eric Guthrie and receivers Don Hutt, Al Marshall and Pat Riley led an aerial attack that produced 297 yards of passing as Boise State took game one in the rivalry series.
Boise State Owns Upper Hand During the 70's
While Idaho had the longer history and tradition, Boise State took ownership of the series during the decade of the 1970's, winning six of the nine meetings, including three wins on Idaho's home field. The Vandals picked up a 22-21 victory in 1972 and a 16-9 win in 1976, ironically both on Boise State's home field.
1971 - Boise State 42, Idaho 14-h
1972 - Idaho 22, Boise State-h 21
1973 - Boise State 47, Idaho 24-h
1974 - Boise State 53-h, Idaho 29
1975 - Boise State 31, Idaho 31-h
1976 - Idaho 9, Boise State 16-h
1977 - Boise State 44, Idaho 14-h
1978 - Boise State 48-h, Idaho 10
1979 - Boise State 41, Idaho 17-h
Vandals Turn Tide in 1980's
En route to a national championship in 1980 and national semi-final appearance in 1981, Boise State beat the Vandals for a then series high five game win streak. From there, the tables completely turned in the rivalry, starting with an Idaho 24-17 win at Boise in 1982. Eight wins to close out the decade of the 80's and Idaho had grabbed a 10-8 series advantage behind legendary Vandal coaches Dennis Erickson, Keith Gilbertson and John L. Smith.
1980 - Boise State 44-h, Idaho 21
1981 - Boise State 45, Idaho 43-h
1982 - Idaho 24, Boise State 17-h
1983 - Idaho 45-h, Boise State 24
1984 - Idaho 37, Boise State 0-h
1985 - Idaho 44-h, Boise State 27
1986 - Idaho 21, Boise State 14-h
1987 - Idaho 40-h, Boise State 34
1988 - Idaho 26, Boise State 20-h
1989 - Idaho 26-h, Boise State 21
The Streak Reaches 12...And The Streak Ends
Idaho pushed their rivalry win streak to 12 straight with four victories to start the 1990's. The wins in 1992 and 1993 were the most dominant of the 'Dirty Dozen, winning by a combined score of 111-32. The Broncos made an about face in 1994 under head coach Pokey Allen. During the Magical 1994 season, the Broncos won 13 games, captured the Big Sky title, advanced to the National Championship game and ended the 12 year dominance of the Vandals. The 27-24 win in 1994 came courtesy of quarterback Tony Hilde's 338 yard performance and three touchdowns, hooking up with wideout Ryan Ikebe on all three scoring plays as Ikebe caught nine passes for 146 yards. In 1995 and 1996, Idaho captured back-to-back victories, including the infamous 64-19 win in Boise in 1996, in which the Vandals pulled an on-side kick late in the game in Pokey Allen's final game before passing away after two year battle with cancer. The final three games of the 1990's were classics. In 1997, Boise State rallied for a second half comeback, forced overtime and won 30-23 in the Kibbie Dome. Idaho returned the favor in 1998, winning on Joel Thomas' two-point conversion in overtime and stunning the sold-out Bronco Stadium crowd. In 1999, a new streak was started, this one by Boise State, as the Broncos won their first ever Division I-A conference title by dominating Idaho 45-14. Boise State scored the first 24 points of the game and never looked back, icing the victory with a 44 yard interception return for touchdown by linebacker Kareem Williams late in the third quarter.
1990 - Idaho 21, Boise State 14-h
1991 - Idaho 28-h, Boise State 24
1992 - Idaho 62, Boise State 16-h
1993 - Idaho 49, Boise State 16-h
1994 - Boise State 27-h, Idaho 24
1995 - Idaho 33-h, Boise State 13
1996 - Idaho 64, Boise State 19-h
1997 - Boise State 30, Idaho 23-h (OT)
1998 - Idaho 36, Boise State 35-h (OT)
1999 - Boise State 45, Idaho 14-h
A Decade of Dominance
Boise State started the new century much the same way it ended the old one, by putting together a dominating performance against the Vandals. In fact, each year so far in the 2000's, the Broncos have been victors. The domination has been telling, as Boise State has averaged 49.8 points per game in the 10 straight wins and allowed just 17.4 points per game, a staggering average margin of victory of 32 points per game. Boise State has scored 40 or more points in eight of those games, 50+ in four games and 65+ in three games. But, still despite the current 10 game win streak, Vandal fans still point to the number 12. As in, 12 straight years of Idaho wins over Boise State. A remarkable streak no question, and one that Boise State would like to continue to challenge with an 11th straight win in 2009, closing out the decade of the 2000's without a loss to the Vandals.
2000 - Boise State 66-h, Idaho 24
2001 - Boise State 45, Idaho 13-h
2002 - Boise State 38-h, Idaho 21
2003 - Boise State 24, Idaho 10-h
2004 - Boise State 65-h, Idaho 7
2005 - Boise State 70-h, Idaho 35
2006 - Boise State 42, Idaho 26-h
2007 - Boise State 58-h, Idaho 14
2008 - Boise State 45, Idaho 10-h