Brett Rypien grew up in Spokane, and has attended many games at Martin Stadium as a Cougars fan. Now, he returns in a Boise State jersey to try and beat the team he grew up rooting for

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Brett Rypien grew up going to football games at Martin Stadium, where his famous uncle, Mark, made “Rypien” a household name as Washington State’s star quarterback from 1983 to 1985.

But when the time came for Brett Rypien to select a college, he picked Boise State over Washington State – a choice he says he made because he wanted to “try something new.”

Still, Saturday’s game between No. 20 WSU (1-0) and Boise State (1-0) will be a homecoming for the Spokane native, who’ll take the field at Martin Stadium wearing his famous last name on the back of his Broncos jersey, against the team he grew up rooting for.

“It’s gonna be fun,” said Rypien, the Broncos’ junior quarterback. “I’ve grown up watching some games in Martin Stadium and going to a few Apple Cups. It’s going to be different for sure, being back home, but I’m looking forward to it. I have all my family coming, and some relatives. I had to get a lot of tickets to this one.”

Included in that gaggle of family members, will be Brett’s uncle Mark, otherwise known as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play at WSU.

Mark Rypien did not attend the game WSU played at Boise State last year because he was in Bermuda on a business trip – though, says Mark, he got to watch the game on the Internet at about 1 a.m. local time.

“I think we, WSU, outplayed Boise State and held the football almost the whole game,” Mark Rypien said of Boise State’s 31-28 win over WSU last year. “But numbers don’t mean anything. It’s all about the wins. It’s one thing Brett has been able to do at Boise and Luke (Falk) has been able to do in Pullman.”

But Mark Rypien will be at Martin Stadium this year for the rematch. And yes, he’ll be rooting for the Cougs.

“I watch (Brett) and cheer for him in every game except when they play against the Cougs,” Mark said in an interview over the summer. “I hope he throws five touchdown passes and we beat them 56-49.”

Mark and Brett have always been close, they say.

Brett credits his uncle for teaching him how to dissect football film, and for helping him learn to understand the mental side of all that goes into playing quarterback.

Coming out of high school, Brett knew his Cougar uncle was quietly rooting for him to go to WSU, but says Mark never put any pressure on him to commit to the Cougs.

“He was very supportive of me throughout my entire recruiting process and wanted to go with what the best fit was for me,” Brett says. “When I committed to Boise, he was really good about it.”

The elder Rypien says he respects his nephew for having the courage to get out from under the shadow of his famous last name.

“I just admire him for stepping out and wanting to pave a path for himself,” Mark says. “He would have liked to come to Pullman, but there’s always something about that comfort of stepping out of that comfort zone and trying something different and starting a career of your own.

“I tell him that I’m a Coug, but I love that you stepped out of that neck of the woods and wanted to become a Bronco. I’m very impressed with him as a player.”

Brett (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) won the starting job at Boise State as a freshman, and is now in his third season as the Broncos’ quarterback.

His first two years at Boise State were very successful. Brett’s a two-time first team All-Mountain West selection, and he finished his sophomore season with 3,646 yards, a 61.9 completion percentage and 24 touchdown passes. He was voted a team captain by his teammates this summer for the second-straight season, and Boise State coach Bryan Harsin says he’s happy with how Brett has progressed.

“He’s stronger, quicker and just physically better: quicker feet, being able to get the ball out, he’s faster, with more anticipation and overall and a general understanding of how you’re being attacked,” Harsin says.

However, this season has come with an interesting wrinkle. Montell Cozart joined the Broncos this offseason as a graduate transfer from Kansas, and in Boise State’s season opener against Troy last week, it was Cozart, not Rypien, who led the Broncos on two touchdown drives that helped seal a 24-13 win for Boise State.

Rypien got the start and went 13 of 23 for 160 yards, leading the offense to a field goal. But he also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Meanwhile, Cozart led a touchdown drive in the second quarter, then re-entered in the fourth quarter and led a second touchdown drive at a critical juncture. Cozart went 6 of 9 for 50 yards and a score, and also picked up an extra 36 yards on the ground.

This week, Harsin played down any suggestion that the Broncos have a quarterback controversy on their hands, stressing that Rypien is still the starter, and that, against Troy, “it was the plan to play (Cozart) all along.”

“Each week is different,” Harsin said. “How we utilize those guys, every single opponent is different. We’ve got two guys I believe who are good quarterbacks. Montell is part of that factor for us to be able to utilize him on the offensive side. We’ll go on using him as we see fit.”

Brett is unperturbed. He believes competition from Cozart will just make him better.

“I think we definitely both bring a chance of pace,” Brett said. “Montell is a very good athlete, he can run the ball well and has a cannon for an arm. I’m a very accurate passer and I can manage the offense.

“It’s nice having him. He pushes me every single day and we both compete every day and it’s been great for us.”