It was almost exactly three years ago, a long trip that made a lasting impression on some of Miami University’s football players.
“It” was the RedHawks’ first-ever meeting with Boise State at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The date was Sept. 12, 2009. It was not pretty.
The Broncos won 48-0 before a crowd of 32,228 on their renowned blue FieldTurf. Miami, which returns to Boise today, was on its way to a 1-11 campaign under first-year coach Mike Haywood.
“They had a lot of NFL talent,” recalled MU receiver Andy Cruse, who dressed but didn’t play in the game. “They played fast, and we didn’t have some stuff go our way. We were playing with them a little bit in the first half, but we got a punt blocked and it was all downhill from there.”
That blocked punt allowed BSU to score a touchdown with eight seconds left in the second period. It was 20-0 at the break.
The RedHawks had a sizable advantage in time of possession (34:53 to 25:07), but got outgained 441-194.
“I don’t really want to,” Miami quarterback Zac Dysert said with a laugh this week when he was asked to recount his memories of the contest. “It was the first time I ever played at quarterback, and I know my first collegiate pass was an interception. I definitely know that.”
Tight end Steve Marck didn’t get to play, yet had a good view from the sideline. He took it upon himself to collect a small souvenir.
“The blue turf, I remember going out for the walk-through and picking some up and putting it in my wallet,” Marck said. “Hey, I was 18 years old. It was my first college game because I didn’t go to the Kentucky game the week before. It was a long flight home, I can tell you that. We got home at 7 in the morning.”
Linebacker Evan Harris was a freshman making his second start that day. He finished with six tackles.
“That was the first collegiate game where I actually called the defense because my partner, Jerrell Wedge, was sick and his voice went out,” Harris said. “I had been watching Boise State all through high school, seeing the blue turf. Once I knew we had them on the schedule, my eyes opened up. I always wanted to play there, just like playing at the Swamp (at Florida) the next year.”
Harris took a lot of pictures that he still has and said the most significant thing about the blue turf is that it’s very soft, far softer than the turf at Yager Stadium.
“You want to lay down and take a nap on it. That’s how soft it is,” Harris said. “And there’s no rug burns coming off that turf. If you’re sliding on our turf, you’re burning.”
Center Brad Bednar has started every game in his Miami career. His first start came against Kentucky at Paul Brown Stadium, so Bronco Stadium was a much smaller stage the following week.
“As players, I think we can focus regardless of the color of the field,” Bednar said. “The blue turf is not as big of a deal when you’re actually on the field as people may believe.”
Still, he did manage to take a few photos at the walk-through.
“I was a freshman. That was back when I actually took pictures of stadiums,” Bednar said. “Now it’s not as much of a glamorous thing.”
Bronco Stadium, with a capacity of 37,000, isn’t huge. Yet Cruse said the 2009 contest was so loud that he wondered if additional noise was being pumped through the loudspeakers.
“It was a rough game, but looking back, it was kind of a cool experience,” Cruse said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to go back there. We’re definitely not going to lose 48-0 again. At least I hope not.”
Dysert would love a little redemption today. He relieved Daniel Raudabaugh in the first meeting with BSU, and none of Dysert’s four passes hit the ground. He completed two throws to his teammates for 1 yard and was picked off twice.
“I was 4-for-4, just not to the right team every time,” Dysert said. “The interceptions were both tipped at the line, I will say that.”
He recalled a pregame conversation with quarterbacks coach Morris Watts.
“I remember to this day Coach Watts coming up to me during warmups,” Dysert said. “He looked at me and was like, ‘You all right?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m all right.’ He told me to stay locked in because I was going to play. I was like, ‘Oh man, I don’t know about that.’
“It was so much louder than I thought it would be. The game wasn’t close, so I kind of had the mentality that I’ll just go in and have some fun. But it’s different once you get out there. I got in the huddle and I was just like, ‘Man, this isn’t good. I don’t like the feeling I have right now.’ But once I got that first snap under my belt, I calmed down a little bit.”
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