In final call, Boise State's Rypien expects no less than victory

By Troy Phillips

DALLAS – It has been four years of managing expectations for Boise State’s Brett Rypien, unfair ones or not.

One game, one chance to go out a bowl champion, one last time in a college uniform with his teammates/brothers are all that remain for Rypien – a four-year starter who has extended the line of Boise State football standouts, quarterback and otherwise.

Rypien is set to lead the Broncos (10-3) against Boston College (7-5) in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, which kicks off December 26 at 12:30 p.m. (ESPN) at historic Cotton Bowl stadium in Fair Park.

In four years, Rypien has led Boise to four bowl games, two Mountain West Conference championship games with one title, and helped maintain Boise’s yearly standard as an elite program in the Group of Five conferences. He has a chance to go out a winner against a Power Five conference opponent in the ACC’s Boston College.

He enters the bowl with 3,705 yards and 30 touchdowns passing and eyes on a possible NFL career.

“From middle school to now, you kind of know where you’re going,” said Rypien, the nephew of former Washington Redskins and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Mark Rypien. “The next chapter is kind of the unknown. I want to finish my career here strong, and we’re playing a great opponent to finish it out.”

Strange as it sounds, Rypien has now been to one more Dallas Cowboys game (one as of this week) than Redskins games (none) despite his famous last name in the D.C. area. At least four former Broncos, including linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, are Cowboys, and former quarterback Kellen Moore is an assistant coach. No shortage of hookups there.

Besides having a notable NFL last name, Rypien has possessed something more tangible. Boise hasn’t risen to its current reputation without balancing a certain talent level – it recruits heavily against Pac-12 programs – against that talent never resting on its laurels or previous success.

Rypien has fit into that model of a typical Boise State player as easily as those before him.

“His legacy in this program isn’t about wins and losses,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “It’s the standard he set about how you prepare and handle all the expectations and ups and downs. Not many true freshmen can say they’ve had the career he’s had.”

His final test will include navigating a ferocious Boston College pass rush that includes ends Wyatt Ray (11 ½ tackles for losses, nine sacks) and Zach Allen (15 TFL’s, 6 ½ sacks), as well has defensive back Hamp Cheevers (seven interceptions).

For Boise State, running back Alexander Mattison (1,415 yards, 17 TDs rushing) is another complementary piece in an offense that includes multiple targets for Rypien.

“You’re talking about an offense with an elite quarterback and running back surrounded by really really good football players,” BC coach Steve Addazio said. “They challenge you physically with a lot of schemes. Good players are good players and there are a lot of talented players on Boise as well.”

Rypien found his way to Boise State after strongly considering Washington, Washington State and Arizona State. He said the program’s consistency well before he showed up was a major factor. Former Boise coach Chris Peterson had just moved on to Washington. Despite being barely moved in himself, Harsin convinced Rypien that Boise held a great football and/or other future for him.

“It was going to be a great fit for me,” Rypien said. “He had a lot of experience as an offensive-minded guy, a pro-style offense that does a lot of different things. It’s been the best possible experience I think I could have had.

“I wanted to play in that type of offense to get ready for the pro level.”

Throughout Rypien’s career, Boise stayed on the Group of Five radar in hopes of landing that New Year’s Six bowl berth that goes to the highest-ranked among those schools at season’s end. In the end, Boise couldn’t surpass notable teams at Houston, Western Michigan and Central Florida the past four years.

But the Broncos are 2-1 in bowls in Rypien’s career, including wins over Oregon (2017 Las Vegas) and Northern Illinois (2015 Poinsettia).

He admits wanting more in terms of team or bowl success, but the standard set before him has been, for the most part, maintained.

“Eight or nine wins isn’t a good season for this program, where it’s a great season for others,” Rypien said. “A 10-win season like we’ve had this year, maybe it’s not looked at as great as far as some fans, with us not winning a championship. Just the expectations that come with this program, you know they’re high coming in and that’s what makes us different.”

It’s not anything that’s lost on Addazio.

“You watch the tape, and you know what you’re up against,” BC’s coach said of the Broncos. “They have dangerous, dangerous weapons. The quarterback has so much to do with the outcome of the game, and when you are playing against an elite quarterback and running back, that is a really good combination."

One last time at the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, Rypien will expect no less himself.