BOISE — Some of Boise State’s players and coaches had to do a double take earlier this summer when the Mountain West schedule was released and listed Saturday’s road matchup at Utah State with a 10 a.m. time next to it.
“As you know in the Mountain West, it’s usually about 10 p.m. when we’re kicking off most of the games,” special teams coordinator and EDGE coach Stacy Collins joked.
It is indeed a 10 o'clock morning kickoff Saturday at Maverik Stadium due to the game being televised nationally by CBS. The reason? The Mountain West television contract with CBS Sports requires three games to air on regular CBS, and the 10 a.m. start (Noon EDT) allows the game to serve as a lead-in to the SEC game of the week at 1:30 p.m. MDT.
Playing on CBS likely will result in some of the biggest TV ratings of the season for the Broncos — which makes the earlier than usual start worth it. Boise State will play on CBS again at 10 a.m. on Nov. 26 at San Diego State — but that will actually be an hour earlier at 9 a.m. local time in California.
To this point, Boise State’s three games have started at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time. In recent years they’ve traditionally played most games in the evening, with some starting as late as 8:41 p.m. MDT.
But despite the morning start, Saturday’s kickoff will actually be about an hour later than the Broncos typically start practice each day — which has the Broncos confident the morning start time won’t be an issue.
“We wake up every morning and practice at 9 a.m.,” head coach Andy Avalos said. “We’re a morning operation, so this is where it comes into play. It is going to be a little bit earlier of a wake up, needing to eat pregame meal four hours before the kick and all that, so it’s going to be making sure the few days before that we get the appropriate rest we need and getting to bed at night.
“When our two feet hit the ground on Saturday morning, (we have to be) ready to roll. It’s going to be pretty close to what we normally do on a Tuesday or Wednesday practice, so it starts with the rest of the week in our preparation and how we get our rest.”
According to the itinerary, players have a 5 a.m. wakeup call on Saturday. Pregame meal — which will include the traditional chicken, vegetables and salad as well as a few breakfast items — is slated for 6:20 a.m. The team will depart the hotel for the stadium at 7:30.
Multiple Boise State players said they typically get up around 5:45 a.m. most days of the week for practice, so being up around 5 a.m. won’t be that much of a difference.
“It’s nothing to us,” wide receiver Octavius Evans said. “We get up early every day. It’s just a normal day for us so we should be ready to go and ready to have a little fun on the field.”
Saturday will be the sixth Boise State game in history to start at 10 a.m. MDT, but will be the second-earliest local time start. The Broncos played at Florida State (12 p.m. EDT) in 2019, at Louisiana (11 a.m. CDT) in 2016, at Connecticut (12 p.m. EDT) in 2014 and Southern Miss (11 a.m. CDT) in 2012.
The 10 a.m. local start in Logan will be the earliest for the Broncos since a 9:02 a.m. PDT local start (10:02 a.m. MDT) at San Jose State in 2004 when Avalos was a starting linebacker. The Broncos played sluggish but hung on to win the game, 56-49, in overtime.
“Back then we didn’t practice in the morning,” Avalos said. “We practiced in the afternoon. We showed up at 1:30 p.m. and had meetings and were on the field at 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. or whatever that was. We don’t do that anymore. We operate year-round in the morning. Much to the guys' delight we’re here at 6:30 every morning. I know it’s going to be a little bit earlier on Saturday.
“That was a battle down in San Jose, I broke my hand in that game, my buddy next to me got kicked out of the game, so there’s not a lot of great memories from that game besides that we found a way to win and ultimately at the end of the day that’s what it is.”
In addition to holding morning practices, Boise State held a scrimmage during fall camp at 10 a.m. to mimic what the players would go through on Saturday.
“We’ve already gone through this process of getting up early and going through our pregame schedule so we already know what it looks like and we’re going to be prepared for it,” linebacker Riley Whimpey said. “I think it’s going to be an awesome opportunity for us to get up early and start fast. I’m really looking forward to it.”