Grant Theil was like so many other football fans in that he grew up watching Boise State games and being intrigued by the blue playing surface.
“We always called it the Smurf Turf,” the Falcons senior defensive back said. “It was definitely cool to go up and play there as a sophomore. It will be fun (Friday) to go up there and play a really good Boise State team.”
Boise State installed the blue surface in Albertsons Stadium in 1986 and for 20 years it remained the only major college football venue with a non-green playing surface. It has since been joined by Coastal Carolina (teal) and Eastern Michigan (gray), as well as Football Championship Subdivisions fields that are red and purple.
But Boise State’s blue became iconic by being different and dominant — they are 124-9 on that surface since 1999.
“It was honestly less challenging than I thought it would be,” said senior safety Jeremy Fejedelem, who was a starting cornerback when Air Force visited in 2017. “You watch on TV and it’s kind of like they blur in with the turf sometimes, but when you’re eye-level it doesn’t really play that much of a factor.”
Air Force is 1-3 at Boise State, winning in 2015. The Falcons also won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in the stadium over Western Michigan in 2014. Air Force (2-0) will face the No. 20 Broncos on the blue 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s definitely different,” Falcons senior receiver Ben Waters said. “They have an electric atmosphere. It’s fun. They have a great student section. Their fans are loud whether it’s an 80-year-old grandma or some parent. They have a loud stadium. It’s a fun place to play. The turf is weird and it kind of throws you off at first, but after warm-up you kind of get used to it.”
Four players on Air Force’s two-deep roster are from Washington, making this the closest to home they are likely to play. Nose guard Mosese Fifita said he had collected about 10 tickets and will play in front of his fiancee’s family for the first time.
“It’s exciting,” Fifita said.
Most players share that feeling when traveling to this unique place.
“It’s definitely a great crowd,” cornerback Zane Lewis said. “The fans are real loud. I like that. The field is blue, but it’s still the same game.”