BOISE, Idaho – at last.
After two long road trips and an extended break in between, the No. 3 Broncos finally get a chance to break in their new blue field turf when they host No. 24 Oregon State on Saturday in front of another national television audience.
The Broncos (2-0) traveled to the East Coast to open their season, beating then-No. 10 Virginia Tech 33-30 on Labor Day. After a 12-day layoff, Boise State packed its bags again and traveled to Wyoming, where the Broncos routed the Cowboys 51-6.
The last weekend in September is late for a home opener, and coach Chris Petersen joked his team may have to adjust to the dynamics of playing in front of a friendly crowd.
"In some ways it's been so long, we've kind of figured that's what you do — go play away games," Petersen said Monday. "It'll feel different for sure."
There's no doubt Bronco Stadium will look a little different.
The stadium's iconic synthetic blue field was replaced this summer amid complaints about the glare and uneven shading that irritated fans and television viewers and confounded coaches studying video of Bronco games and practices.
Not to be outdone or unprepared, crews at Oregon State on Monday painted one of their practice fields blue to help players accustomed to playing on lush green grass or synthetic surfaces adjust to the change.
Who knows, maybe it's just the psychological edge the Beavers (1-1), who are coming off a 35-28 win over Louisville, need to snap the Broncos' 16-game winning streak and run of 56 straight regular-season victories at home.
"It's just really something fun for the players, something to talk about it, and a chance for them to get used to the blue field at Bronco Stadium," said Steve Fenk, OSU's sports information director. "Our scout team is going to wear blue tops this week, too. It's going to be a unique experience for some of these guys who have never been on a field other than a green one."
After learning about Oregon State's landscaping project, Petersen chuckled.
"We've got them right where we want them if they're painting their field," Petersen said.
The Broncos may have to adjust this week to the absence of two key players.
Wide receiver and punt returner Mitch Burroughs is recovering from a high ankle sprain and could miss several games. Burroughs is averaging 11 yards per return, but has also had two long returns called back because of penalties.
Petersen also said starting defensive end Shea McClellin is day-to-day after suffering from a concussion against Wyoming. McClellin has a team-best 2½ sacks, six tackles and has recovered a fumble.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects home winning streak to 56 games)