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Provo • Bryan Harsin can be partially forgiven. Boise State's second-year head football coach wasn't roaming the blue turf every single year that the Broncos dominated teams from the Beehive State, just most of them.
Harsin, a former BSU quarterback and offensive coordinator who replaced Chris Petersen in 2014, said Monday he was not aware that Boise State had a 21-game winning streak against Utah teams from 1998-2013 and didn't know that the Broncos are a sparkling 49-14 all-time against their neighbors to the south, including 24-7 against Utah's so-called Big Three: BYU, Utah and Utah State.
"I hadn't thought of it like that, but it is good to know," Harsin said.
Rest assured, most college football fans in the state below Idaho geographically, at least know all about it.
It is a topic along the Wasatch Front again this week, as Boise State rolls into LaVell Edwards Stadium as three-point favorites for a Saturday showdown (8:15 p.m. MT, ESPN2) against BYU, which has managed to knock off BSU just once in five tries.
"If that is what they want to base their pride off of, cool," said BYU junior receiver Colby Pearson, a native of Blackfoot, Idaho, on the other side of the state. "I wasn't a part of most of that, so I don't know from the past. But hopefully we get out there and beat them this year."
It won't be easy. As BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall pointed out Monday when asked to explain Boise State's success over Utah teams, "I think they have a pretty good record against everybody."
The Cougars beat the Broncos when they last visited LES, 37-20, to end the school's 21-game mastery over Utah teams that started with a 31-28 win over the Utah Utes in 1998. But BSU avenged that loss with a 55-30 pounding of the rudderless, defenseless Cougars last year at Albertsons Stadium.
Since 1998, Boise State has won 83.6 percent of its games (184-36) and is 23-1 against Utah teams.
"I don't think it is Utah-specific," Mendenhall said of Boise State's success. "I think it is nation-specific. They have good players. They do a nice job coaching them, and they've developed a great winning culture."
Two BYU-Boise State games were razor-close BSU's 28-27 win in 2004 when BYU kicker Matt Payne's 38-yard field goal attempt was ruled wide left, and BSU's 7-6 win in 2012 when Mendenhall unsuccessfully tried a two-point conversion in the final minutes. The other two Boise State wins were blowouts: 50-12 in 2003 in Provo and last year's rout.
"There is a tremendous amount of respect for Utah teams from our end of it, because the Utahs and Utah States and BYUs, those guys have been successful programs for a long time, and so I think we know what we are getting into when we play those teams," Harsin said. "And that helps us raise our level of awareness and preparation from week to week when we play a team like that."
Actually, Utah State has only once played BSU close since beating the Broncos 24-20 in 1997 (the last Utah team win until BYU's 2013 breakthrough), a 33-27 decision in 1999.
"I don't think they have much competition there in Idaho. Boise State kinda runs the state, so they want to come down and make it a little rivalry between Utah and Idaho," said BYU offensive lineman Kyle Johnson, from Sandy's Jordan High.
Utah State will host Boise State on Oct. 16, hoping to snap an 11-game losing skid, and now plays the Broncos every year since both are in the Mountain West's Mountain Division. BYU and Boise State are scheduled to play every year until 2023 and are in the fourth year of a 12-year deal.
For all its recent success, Utah is just 2-5 against BSU (0-4 since 1998), and is apparently not interested in evening the ledger. Boise State pounded Utah 36-3 in 2006 in what was going to be the first game of a four-game deal, but the Utes bought their way out of the series when they joined the Pac-12. Boise State defeated Utah 26-3 in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl.
Boise State's roster includes three Utahns: Granger DT Tutulupeatau Mataele, Bingham DE Durrant Miles and East OL Tennessee Suesue.
BYU's roster includes four Idahoans: Pearson, QB Taysom Hill (Pocatello), QB Tanner Mangum (Eagle) and DL Adam Ingersoll (Boise).
"I haven't really paid attention to what their [recruiting] pitch is, nor really have we lost many players to Boise State," Mendenhall said. "We might have crossed over on a handful is all, over the time I have been the coach here. But really the players that want BYU, they are not choosing Boise over BYU. We really haven't had much of an issue there."
Beating the Broncos on the field has been an issue for all of the Beehive State.
Streaking through Utah
Between 1998-2013, Boise State won 21 straight games against teams from the state of Utah. The number of times the Broncos beat those respective programs in that timeframe:
BYU • 3
Utah • 4
Utah State • 11
Weber State • 2
Southern Utah • 1
Note: Streak began with a 31-28 win over Utah in 1998 and was snapped in a 37-20 loss to BYU in 2013
No. 20 Boise State at BYU
P Saturday, 8:15 p.m. MT
TV • ESPN2