HUNTINGTON — One look at the Boise State football team’s game notes shows the mindset that has made the Broncos one of the top mid-major programs in the country.
With the College Football Playoff now entrenched in the sport, terms such as “Power 5” and “Group of 5” have become mainstays in the everyday lingo associated with the game.
But not for Boise State.
In fact, you will not see one reference to the “Power 5” listed within their game notes.
What you will see is the subtle phrase “Autonomous 5,” which refers to those teams residing in five conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Pac-12 and the Big 12 — that, in 2014, were given power by the NCAA to write many of their own rules on issues such as staff sizes, recruiting rules, cost-of-attendance stipends and others.
So why don’t the game notes call those schools the Power 5? Well, because to Boise State, they haven’t been that powerful.
The Broncos have a 16-9 record against those programs since 2006, and last week’s 36-31 win over Florida State gave Boise State a win over a Power 5 opponent in five of the last six seasons.
It is that type of success and mentality that has kept the Broncos carrying the flag for the Group of 5 schools for many years. Marshall will see it firsthand when the Thundering Herd visits Boise State at 9 p.m. Friday (ESPN2).
Marshall offensive line coach Greg Adkins has been at all levels of football — Power 5, Group of 5 and NFL — and he said the consistency of Boise State is what is most impressive.
“When you look at Group of 5 teams, you want to look at teams who have done it consistently,” Adkins said. “I think that’s the mark of a really good Group of 5 — those that can do it year in, year out. Obviously, Boise would be one of the better teams has done that since they made the move. They do an outstanding job of developing football players and evaluating guys. They do a great job all the way around.”
Even though they are separated by nearly 1,800 miles, there is a sense of connection between Marshall and Boise State.
Both Marshall and Boise State represented two of the best I-AA programs in the early 1990s, and Boise State made the jump to Division I-A (now FBS) in 1996 — one year prior to Marshall.
In 1999, Marshall went undefeated and finished No. 10 in the Associated Press rankings that season, while Boise State was 10-3.
What the Broncos have done since that 1999 season is nothing short of impressive.
Starting with that year, Boise State has earned 10 wins in 16 of 20 seasons, and since 2000, Boise State’s record of 208-41 is the best record in all of FBS — Group of 5, Autonomous 5, anyone.
The distant correlation between Marshall and Boise State continues with the level of winning championships. There have been 24 schools — Boise State and Marshall included — that have made the jump from FCS (formerly Division I-AA) to FBS (formerly Division I-A).
Boise State and Marshall are Nos. 1 and 2 in conference championships among those schools, with the Broncos first at 13 conference titles and Marshall tied with Troy for second at six titles.
Of note, Marshall has only one conference title (2014) since joining Conference USA in 2005. Many of its titles came as members of the Mid-American Conference in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
That merger of two top-tier Group of 5 programs is what makes Friday’s contest so special for Marshall coach Doc Holliday and the Thundering Herd.
The game is a measuring stick for where his program stacks up.
And regardless of whether they are labeled as one or not, Holliday knows Boise State is as powerful as any Power 5 program that could have been on the schedule.
“They won 11 games a year ago, so it will be an excellent challenge for us, but it’s a challenge that we’re looking forward to,” Holliday said. “When you’re in this business as a coach or a player, these are the kinds of games you want to go play.”