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Provo • In the wee moments Sunday morning, as the madness was finally subsiding at Rice-Eccles Stadium, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson's thoughts flashed back to a scene six years ago.
As a freshman at Utah State in 2006, Nelson's Aggies were thrashed 49-10 in a Western Athletic Conference game at Boise State. He rushed for more yards, 45, than he passed for that day, 40, before being yanked in favor of Leon Jackson III.
"We think this was noisy tonight, and we think this [Utah] crowd was crazy," Nelson said. "I played up there in Boise when I was a freshman, and that crowd brings it."
Nelson said it could be a "blessing or a curse" that just five nights after the emotionally draining, gut-wrenching 24-21 rivalry game loss to Utah, the Cougars travel to Boise State to take on the 1-1 Broncos Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN). Boise State moved back into The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday after its 39-12 win over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.
"We need to get [the Utah loss] out of our system," he said after the Cougars outgained the Utes 312-245 and had 11 more first downs (25-14) but shot themselves in the foot too many times and gave up too many big plays to pull out a win.
"It will tell us a lot about what kind of team we are [at Boise State]," Nelson continued, "because if we don't come prepared, they will embarrass us up there."
The Cougars (2-1) dropped out of the rankings with the loss. The last time BYU played at Boise State, 2004, a missed field goal in the final minute by Matt Payne cost the Cougars a chance at the upset, and they fell 28-27. In their first-ever meeting, Boise State embarrassed BYU 50-12 in 2003 in Provo.
Defensive end Eathyn Manumaleuna, who helped hold Utah to 49 rushing yards on 35 attempts, said he welcomes the opportunity to play another top-notch opponent quickly.
"It depends on us," he said. "This was a tough loss today, and if we let it get to us, it could be a bad thing. But if we take the time to learn from tonight's game, and move on, then it could be a great thing."
The Cougars don't do anything as a team on Sundays, for religious reasons, but receiver J.D. Falslev, safety Mike Hague and others said they planned to download Boise State film on their iPads and get a head start on the Broncos, rather than wait until Monday morning.
"We made a lot of mistakes tonight that we cannot make," Falslev said. "It does not matter if it is a rivalry game or not, we made way too many mistakes, committed way too many penalties, and had too many miscues here and there. We have to clean that up if we want to contend for anything."
Falslev, a junior, said he was "just trying to make a play" when he scooped up the blocked field goal behind the line of scrimmage and tried to advance the ball, a heady, gutty play that paid dividends when Utah's crowd was penalized 15 yards for running onto the field during a live ball situation.
"I think the thing that hurts the most about this game is that our seniors deserved to win this game," Falslev said. "They have put everything into this program, and then some. They fought back and fought back, but we just came up short at the end."
At BYU's football media day last June, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged the quick turnaround isn't optimal, but said the program is willing to do it for the national television exposure.
BYU at Boise State
P Thursday, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPN