Bulldogs hope for Bronco backing

BOISE, Idaho -- Neither Fresno State nor Georgia Tech has school colors of blue and orange, but there's a chance that color scheme might dominate the Bronco Stadium stands during Roady's Humanitarian Bowl today.

Fresno State is expected to have the crowd behind it -- mostly in the form of Boise State fans -- in its bowl game against Georgia Tech today, the same way the Bulldogs did the last time they faced an Atlantic Coast Conference team in the Boise-based bowl. The 2004 MPC Computers Bowl also was played in Boise, and Fresno State beat No. 18 Virginia in overtime with the help of overwhelming crowd support.

More than 20,000 Boise State fans were there in 2004 and, from what Boise State season-ticket holder Chad Chigbrow remembers, most of the Boise fans were cheering for the Bulldogs.

"You get some kooks that are diehard Boise State fans and can't root for anyone but Boise State," Chigbrow said. "But for the most part, we want to see the [Western Athletic Conference] do well."

Fresno State sold about 1,200 tickets, according to team spokesman Steve Weakland, and Georgia Tech sold fewer than 500 tickets, according to team spokesman Dean Buchan. So most of the projected 28,000 fans in attendance likely will be Boise locals -- meaning more Boise State fans with that same WAC loyalty.

That loyalty is the major reason Chigbrow will be cheering for Fresno State on a chilly Boise afternoon. The WAC is 0-2 in bowls this season, as Boise State lost to East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl and Nevada lost to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl.

"We need to pick up a win for the conference so we don't look so bad," Chigbrow said. "And I just hate Georgia Tech being a partial Georgia fan."

Boise State fan Eldon Hattervig will be "out there in my orange gear, rooting for the red," because he believes Fresno State and Boise State have a rivalry based on respect.

"Not like our rivalry with Idaho," he said.

But he agreed that the WAC affiliation tied him to Fresno State.

Pat Hill also is a reason Boise State fans are rallying to join the Red Wave in the postseason.

Stephen Bancroft, an 81-year-old Idaho native, and 39-year-old Gary Andrew will not make the game but said they will be rooting for the Bulldogs because they like and respect Hill.

Hill, in his 11th year as coach, has an 84-55 record at Fresno State and has taken the Bulldogs to nine bowls in 10 seasons. And he's often had positive things to say about the Broncos, their fans and Boise as a town.

When the Broncos visited Fresno in the 2005 season, Hill asked Fresno fans to be kind and appreciative of the Boise State fans who had supported the Bulldogs the previous season in the MPC Computers Bowl.

This week, Hill again praised Boise.

"The town is great, and they really roll out the red carpet for you when you come," Hill said, before reminiscing about the large crowd present for the 2004 bowl despite Boise State's absence from the game.

"That speaks volumes about the importance of football in this community."