1980 Boise State Broncos football team

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1980 Boise State Broncos football
Old Boise State Script logo.png
NCAA Division I-AA champion
Big Sky champion
Conference Big Sky Conference
Coaches No. 1
1980 record 10–3 (6–1 Big Sky)
Head coach Jim Criner (5th season)
Offensive coordinator Gene Dahlquist (4th season)
Defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich (2nd season)
Home stadium Bronco Stadium
← 1979
1981 →
1980 Big Sky football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
#7 Boise State $^ 6 1 0     10 3 0
Idaho 4 3 0     6 5 0
Nevada 4 3 0     6 4 1
Idaho State 4 4 0     6 5 0
Weber State 4 4 0     4 7 0
Montana State 3 4 0     4 6 0
Northern Arizona 3 4 0     5 6 0
Montana 1 6 0     3 7 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – Division I-AA playoff participant
  • Boise State earned automatic berth in I-AA playoffs. Idaho State and Weber State met twice in league play with each game counting as a half game.
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA poll (released before championship playoffs)

The 1980 Boise State Broncos football team represented Boise State University in the 1980 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The Broncos were led by fifth-year head coach Jim Criner and the "Four Horseman" senior backfield: quarterback Joe Aliotti, fullback David Hughes, halfback Cedric Minter, with halfback Terry Zahner in reserve.

The Broncos were 10–1 the previous season and undefeated in the Big Sky,[1][2][3] but were on probation for a scouting violation in November 1978 and were ineligible for the league title or I-AA playoffs in 1979.[4][5][6]

Regular season[edit]

The Broncos finished the regular season in 1980 at 8–3 and 6–1 in conference to win their fifth Big Sky title in 11 seasons, their first since 1977. BSU defeated their two Division I-A opponents, but lost a road contest in November to Cal Poly-SLO, the 1980 Division II national champions, whom they had routed at the end of the previous season.[1][2] The Broncos easily defeated rival Idaho for the fourth consecutive year in mid-October in Boise. During halftime of the Nevada-Reno game on November 8, BSU dedicated the playing field at Bronco Stadium to athletic director and former head coach Lyle Smith.[7] The only conference setback was a one-point loss in late September at Montana State, the difference was a last-minute two-point conversion.[8]

Division I-AA playoffs[edit]

The Broncos were invited to the four-team I-AA playoffs. As Big Sky champions with a substantial stadium and fan base, BSU was chosen to host in the first round, a national semifinal on December 13, three weeks after the completion of the regular season. The opponent was Grambling State, coached by legend Eddie Robinson. The Broncos won 14–9 in sub-freezing fog and advanced to the I-AA national championship game the following week in California against defending champion Eastern Kentucky, coached by Roy Kidd.[9][10][11] In a back-and-forth contest played in the fog at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento, Boise State won 31–29 to win their only I-AA national title.[12][13]

The Broncos returned to the I-AA semifinals the following season and 1990, and the title game in 1994; they moved up to Division I-A in 1996.


Date Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
Sep 6 at Utah (Div. I-A)* Rice StadiumSalt Lake City, UT W 28–7   27,231
Sep 13 SE Louisiana* Bronco StadiumBoise, ID L 13–17   21,342
Sep 20 at Northern Arizona Walkup SkydomeFlagstaff, AZ W 20–18   10,787
Sep 27 at Montana State Reno H. Sales StadiumBozeman, MT L 17–18   9,121
Oct 4 Montana Bronco Stadium • Boise, ID W 44–10   20,453
Oct 11 Idaho Bronco Stadium • Boise, ID - (BSU-UI rivalry) W 44–21   21,812
Oct 18 Cal State Fullerton (Div. I-A)* Bronco Stadium • Boise, ID W 26–11   17,052
Oct 25 Weber State Bronco Stadium • Boise, ID W 24–0   18,455
Nov 8 Nevada Bronco Stadium • Boise, ID W 14–3   20,682
Nov 15 at Cal Poly (Div. II)* Mustang StadiumSan Luis Obispo, CA L 20–23   8,330
Nov 22 at Idaho State ISU MiniDomePocatello, ID W 22–13   13,865
Dec 13 Grambling State* Bronco Stadium • Boise, ID - (Div. I-AA Semifinal) W 14–9   17,300
Dec 20 vs. Eastern Kentucky* Hughes StadiumSacramento, CA (Div. I-AA Championship Game; Camellia Bowl - ABC-TV) W 31–29   8,157
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming.


  1. ^ a b "Broncos stampede Cal-Poly SLO 56-14". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. November 18, 1979. p. 12D. 
  2. ^ a b "'Our bowl game,' cries Criner". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. November 19, 1979. p. 12D. 
  3. ^ "College standings". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). November 26, 1979. p. 4C. 
  4. ^ "Boise St. coach admits to scouting violation". Daily News. (Bowling Green, Kentucky). Associated Press. November 16, 1978. p. 4-B. 
  5. ^ "Big Sky's down hard on Boise". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 17, 1978. p. B1. 
  6. ^ "Probation slapped on Boise State football". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). UPI. December 18, 1978. p. 7. 
  7. ^ BSU Game Day program - November 8, 1980 - p.8
  8. ^ "Montana State stuns Broncos". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. September 28, 1980. p. 2C. 
  9. ^ "Boise State gains finale". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). UPI. December 15, 1980. p. 28. 
  10. ^ "Boise State moves into I-AA finals". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 14, 1980. p. 7B. 
  11. ^ "Camellia: who vs. who?". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). December 20, 1980. p. 24. 
  12. ^ "Broncos squeak by Colonels, take title". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). December 21, 1980. p. B2. 
  13. ^ "Boise gets title". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. December 22, 1980. p. 28.