BYU football notes: Cougars play through wildfire smoke in Boise
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Boise, Idaho • It wasn't exactly what one would call a chamber of commerce day here Thursday as ESPN put the national spotlight on this town some 341 miles northwest of Salt Lake City.

Due to wildfires in the area, conditions were smoky and hazy as BYU and Boise State renewed acqaintances on the blue turf at Bronco Stadium in front of a sellout crowd of more than 34,000.

The Cougars, just five days removed from that 24-21 loss at Utah, arrived here Wednesday, their first trip to play at Boise State since a 28-27 loss here in 2004. It is supposed to be the start of a 12-game series between the Intermountain West powers. but both BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and Boise State coach Chris Petersen said 12 games might be too much during interviews earlier in the week.

Boise State's field is one of only four non-green playing surfaces in college football, but BYU players said Monday it wasn't going to be a big deal to them to play on the "smurf turf."

"It doesn't really matter to me. Not really," said linebacker Spencer Hadley.

Friel is for real

BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel has four receiving touchdowns this season. That's the most by a Cougar tight end since Dennis Pitta caught eight touchdown passes in 2009. BYU's tight ends did not catch a single touchdown pass in 2010.

Nelson makes list

BYU quarterback Riley Nelson was named to the 2012 Senior CLASS Award watch list on thursday. There are 29 other seniors eligible for the award.

To be a candidate, athletes must have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — community, classroom, character and competition.

Nelson is also on the 2012 Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award watch lists.

Before Thursday's game, Nelson had thrown at least one touchdown pass in 11 straight games.

drew@sltrib.comTwitter: @drewjay