Boise State has always faced an uncertain future when it came to access to a major bowl game, but with the advent of the College Football Playoff system, it had an easy answer going into Saturday night's Mountain West title game: Win and you're in as the Group of Five selection.
The Broncos did just that on their familiar blue turf, surviving a late rally to top Fresno State, 28-14, and win the league championship.
In contrast to many of their recent victories, however, this one didn't come easy, nor did it look pretty. The Broncos scrapped and clawed their way to a win behind an active defense and just enough long drives to put away the Bulldogs.
Running back Jay Ajayi, who's starting to generate major buzz among scouts, had a surprisingly off night, running for just 70 yards on 22 carries. He did score a touchdown in the second quarter that proved to be the winning points, but he was unable to break away from the line of scrimmage and was held to just 3.2 yards a carry.
Grant Hedrick also had a subpar outing at quarterback but managed to play mistake-free in the win. A senior, he completed only nine passes but led the team in rushing to go along with his 155 yards through the air.
Fresno State signal-caller Brian Burrell played maybe his best second half of the season and mounted a comeback that fell just short, putting up 332 yards passing while completing 67 percent of his throws. He couldn't overcome three interceptions, however, and that might have been the difference between the two teams on a cold night in Idaho.
As the only member of the Group of Five leagues -- the Mountain West, MAC, American Athletic, Conference USA and Sun Belt -- ranked in the selection committee top 25, Boise State will head to one of the New Year's Six bowl games to face a major conference opponent. Current College Football 24/7 projections put the Broncos in the Fiesta Bowl against Pac-12 South Champion Arizona.