Miracle Season: Boise State Football turns turmoil into triumph

Photo by Marlei Soderquist; Graphic by Sasha White

The 2023 Boise State football season was a miracle season. 

This season was anything but seamless. Between a rocky start, players transferring mid-season, injuries plaguing the most formidable players, firing former head coach Andy Avalos and interim head coach Spencer Danielson stepping in, there seemed to be little hope for this Bronco squad.

Granted, none of these things were on anyone’s bingo cards for the season. 

However, one thing most certainly wasn’t … being Mountain West Champions. 

The Broncos overcame a 0.1 percent chance of making the championship game to being 100 percent conference champions. 

In what was a rollercoaster of a season, the Boise State squad proved to everyone, never doubt the Broncos. 


After a 2022 season where the then freshman quarterback Taylen Green was called to take over after the early transfer of former quarterback Hank Bachmeier, Green stepped in to lead the Broncos to the 2022 Mountain West Championship game. Although they lost to Fresno State in the championship game, the Broncos seemed to be in perfect shape for revenge in 2023. 

In the 2023 preseason poll, the Broncos were favored to win the 2023 Mountain West Championship, and for good reason. 

With head coach Andy Avalos settling into his role, a dynamic and athletic quarterback and a lineup of seniors that will be at the pinnacle of their success, the 2023 season was there for the Broncos to take. 

The excitement surrounding the team and season was undeniable, however with the slew of tough opponents to start out the season, the Broncos looked like anything but contenders for the MW Championship. 


To be fair, the first two matchups the Broncos saw during the 2023 season was University of Washington (UW) and University of Central Florida (UCF)

One team (UW) a powerhouse, College Football Championship contenders and home to a possible Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, while the latter (UCF) was a defensive juggernaut in a Power Five conference. 

The 0-2 start was not the most desirable start for the Broncos, but the light was still on the horizon as the Mountain West Conference play had yet to start and the “best was still yet to come for this program”. 


The regular season was a whirlwind to say the least. 

The Broncos either struggled on the defensive end or on the offensive side on any given night. The lack of consistency, chemistry and trustworthy coaching calls was indisputable. 

At one point, the only consistent players on the team were punter James Ferguson-Reynolds, kicker Jonah Dalmas and running back Ashton Jeanty

For the majority of the season, the Broncos ran a dual-quarterback system where redshirt freshman Maddux Madsen and Green split playing time and snaps for what seemed like no “real reason”. 

One of the biggest downfalls by far for the Broncos on the season was the loss at Colorado State. After having a 20 point lead with six minutes left to play, the Broncos allowed the Rams to storm back to beat them for the first time in history. 

The season went back and forth from that moment on, understandably so, it’s hard to bounce back from a loss like that. 

With a win against University of Wyoming and a loss to Fresno State, the Broncos season was hanging in the bounds. 

The Broncos found themselves holding on tightly to a 4-5 record. Their 27-year winning record streak was in jeopardy of being snapped and they had a 0.1 percent chance of making it to the Mountain West Conference championship game.


To kick off a slew of shocking news for the Broncos, their lead wide receiver, Eric McAlister announced his transfer from Boise State on Nov. 6, following the loss to Fresno State. 

The announcement, coming as a shock to many, was just the start of a dramatic week for the team. 

Not only did they lose their star wide receiver, but they began losing future recruits. Decommits were being announced via twitter left and right. 

McAlister spoke out after his announcement to transfer from Boise State about the integrity of the coaching staff and the broken promises

Despite a series of unfortunate events and hardships for the team, there seemed to be a general consensus on the root cause of their problems: the coaching staff. 


To add fuel to the fire, the Broncos found themselves without a head coach. 

On Nov. 12, just a day after a 42-14 win against New Mexico, head coach Andy Avalos was fired, while defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson found himself in one of the biggest challenges of his life, taking the role of interim head coach for Boise State football. 

Despite the five year, $7.75 million contract that Avalos signed back in 2020, the former Bronco defensive lineman was relieved of his duties and Danielson got a major promotion.


The Broncos were given the choice to give up on the season, but they refused. Instead, Danielson had the players take out their notebooks and write “two weeks” on a page and circle it. 

“We got two games promised to us right now, let’s finish those,” Danielson said. “Whenever this season is done, I told them, ‘I will walk that path with you, if there’s a better opportunity because of X, Y and Z and we look at it and you need to.’ But finish this. Grown men finish what they started and we’re going to do this together.”

They were not fazed by any complaints or outside noise — and it paid off. 

With new interim head coach Danielson leading from the helm, the Broncos did the unimaginable. 

The idea of winning out seemed far-fetched considering how the season had gone up to that point. 

The Broncos showed up and showed out for one another in their 45-10 win against Utah State. This win was one of the first games in which the Broncos seemed to be firing on all cylinders. 

The defense and offense seemed unstoppable. Ahmed Hassanein cemented his name into the Boise State history books with 10 sacks on the season and the running back dynamic duo in George Holani and Ashton Jeanty was finally healthy and in full effect.

Not only was the team putting together a collective stream of powerful and dynamic plays, but it was a game that demonstrated cohesion with one another, standing by one another’s sides as things got tough.

The next week, the Broncos engulfed Air Force in a 27-19 win to keep their Mountain West Championship game hopes alive.


After a three-way tie for the top spot in the Mountain West, the Mountain West committee used the composite of four computer rankings to break the tie. After the dreaded decision, it turned out that University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and Boise State finished in the No. 1 and No. 2 slots respectively. 

The Broncos made it and achieved the impossible. The next stop was bringing home the hardware.

In what was the most complete and well played game the Broncos had all year, the Broncos routed UNLV 44-20. Green was named Offensive Player of the Game and safety Alex Teubner was Defensive Player of the Game.

Bronco fans in attendance looked around with a face of shock, happiness and complete and utter surprise. 

The Broncos just did the impossible.

The Gatorade was thrown on coach Danielson, players jumped around, cried in one another’s arms, hoisted the trophy, danced on podiums and did snow angels in the purple and white confetti. 

It was a vision of emotion, excitement and relief. The Broncos had something to prove, and they did just that. 

They proved everyone wrong.

All throughout the season, Green reflected on the loss in the 2022 MW Championship game. He tells of how he was given the game flip coin at the end of the matchup by a referee, and kept it in his backpack all season to remember the pain and hurt that loss caused him.

“I would say this year has been really tough on me,” Green said. “I remember sitting in that seat on the Blue, losing [against Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship] and coach [Danielson] just said ‘Remember that feeling’…the ref gave me the coin and I kept that in my backpack the whole year just as a reminder. So before the game, I just looked at that and I just remembered how I felt.”

Green, as a sophomore, has led the Broncos to back-to-back championship games and was able to bring home the hardware this season. 


Just one day after winning the 2023 MW Championship, Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey announced Spencer Danielson as the newest head coach of the Boise State football program. 

Players were in full support of the new hire and jumped out of their seats with the tremendous news of their new leader.

Danielson became the 12th head coach in program history and will lead the Broncos for the next five years after inking a 5-year $6.5M contract. 
As if the Broncos hadn’t already had a tough season, Green announced he entered the transfer portal on Dec. 4, although he is still looking at the possibility of returning to The Blue, Green will look to other schools to finish out his career.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Sean

    Best of luck to Green if he decides to move on to another program. Our QBs have a lot of work to do for the bowl game.

  2. Gary Johnson

    Come on Taylan, we believe in you and have every since Oregon State game. Let!s finish this thing!

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