BOISE, Idaho — Any sports fan worth their weight in potatoes knows the field at Albertsons Stadium, home of the Boise State Broncos, is blue. What they might not know is that it can be red, too.
"Anytime you kind of hit the floor, you’re going to get scraped up, and (there’s) possible blood," Wyoming junior quarterback Josh Allen said. "So our trainers have to be ready to get you on the sideline and wipe everything up and throw (on) some gauze or Band-Aids, whatever they need to do to get the blood, so you can continue to play."
Many Cowboys got their first look at the Smurf Turf in October, when Wyoming lost to the Broncos 24-14 at Albertsons Stadium.
"That turf is pretty bad," sophomore fullback Jaylon Watson said. "I remember we were on the sideline and on the visiting sideline, the lines curved. They’re not even straight."
Friday, the Cowboys return to The Blue to face the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
"I think it helps you, the experience of being in that stadium before, knowing where the game clocks are," Allen said. "Obviously the color of the turf isn’t going to surprise us. We know how bad the turf is. It’s not the best turf.
"So I think when Central Michigan steps on the field, they’re going to kind of be alarmed with what they’re stepping on. But we know exactly what we’re stepping into, no pun intended."
The experience of playing on Lyle Smith Field, as the then-green field was named in 1980, is initially a draw for players. It has been a recruiting boon and marketing tool for the Broncos, who have a notoriously strong home-turf advantage.
"Once you get there, it’s cool to experience, see the blue field and everything like that," senior Jalen Ortiz said. "But once you’re playing, you’re just playing football on the field."
But seeing the field and feeling it are two different things. The turf was last replaced in 2010.
"I mean, it is a hard surface," Ortiz said. "It definitely is a hard surface."
And there will be less cushion this time around, as it rained heavily when Wyoming played there in October. No precipitation is predicted for Friday's game.
The Cowboys, whose last game in Boise before this season came in 2015, have never won a game in Boise.
"Both times I’ve been to Boise, we’ve lost," senior defensive tackle Dalton Fields said. "It would be really good to get a win on that field."
The Cowboys have the advantage of familiarity, no doubt. Central Michigan last played in Boise in 2001.
"It’s nice to just have somewhere that we’re comfortable with, that we’ve played before, to go through so that we just know the area, know the stadium and stuff," junior safety Marcus Epps said. "... It’s just a little old and kind of like hard when you land on it. But once you start playing on it, you don’t notice it a whole lot.
"It is good that we know what to expect and we know how it’s going to be. Just so we can be prepared for it going into the game."
The Cowboys also have the advantage of proximity. And while Wyoming fans might not have been thrilled with receiving a bowl invite from a cold-weather city, it's not as if they're unaccustomed to the temperatures. Plus, traveling to Boise is something Wyoming fans have done before.
"It’s going to be cold," Allen said. "We’re used to the cold. I’m sure Central Michigan’s used to the cold as well. It’s just a place we’ve played before. I think we’ll have a good turnout with fans, being closer than they are, so hopefully it’s like a homefield game for us."
But just how valuable is comfort on the cobalt? After all, last year Colorado State played in Boise before traveling to the Potato Bowl, and the Rams got blown out by Idaho. Sure, the Vandals were in their home state, but they hadn't played in Boise since 2009.
At the very least, the Cowboys won't have to play against a team wearing blue-on-blue against a blue surface, as they did in October.
"I mean, we really can’t complain," freshman defensive tackle Javaree Jackson said. "It’s just another game we’ve got to take. I just feel like the turf really doesn’t matter. It’s how you perform on it."