This Day In Sports: An epic blue turf scene, and an epic rout

October 18, 2002, 20 years ago today: One of the most electric nights in Bronco Stadium history, as a then-record crowd of 30,924 and a national audience on ESPN watch Boise State dismantle Fresno State 67-21.The Broncos began with backup quarterback B.J. Rhode, who had started the previous four games (all wins), and the senior staked them to a 13-0 lead through the second snap of the second quarter. It was then that Ryan Dinwiddie returned from a broken ankle he suffered at Arkansas six weeks earlier and torched the Bulldogs with a then-record 19-of-22 performance, covering 406 yards and five touchdowns.

Dinwiddie’s first two TDs went to seldom-used tight end Rocky Atkinson, and the final three came in the fourth quarter. Combined with Rhode’s first quarter contribution, Boise State passed for 476 yards as a team, still the sixth-most in school history. Included were two 100-yard receivers: Lou Fanucchi with 178 yards and Billy Wingfield with 146. Add the run game, and the Broncos totaled 688 yards, a school record at that point. Not surprisingly, there was a 100-yard rusher as well, with Brock Forsey putting up 132 yards while scoring the Broncos’ first two touchdowns.

It was a transformative game in the stands, as Boise State staged its first color-coordinated fan effort. It was an Orange-Out, and it was accompanied by Thunder Stix, the noisemakers that were permitted by the WAC but are now banned by the Mountain West. It was also the first Boise State regular-season game ever telecast by ESPN from the blue turf. The Broncos’ previous three home appearances on the Worldwide Leader had been in the Humanitarian Bowl. And it was the first home game played on a Friday night. It was controversial at the time, as it conflicted with high school football. But in the two decades since, everybody’s grown accustomed to it.

Boise State had started to get votes in the polls but had still never made the Top 25. The wild scene on national TV attracted a lot more attention, though, and momentum surged. The Broncos would outscore their next three opponents 152-18 and would enter the national rankings for the first time in the Division I-A era on November 10. Boise State would go on to capture its first WAC championship and would finish 12-1 and 12th in the AP Poll after a Humanitarian Bowl win over Iowa State, the program’s first victory over a BCS school.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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