The #7 ranked Boise State Broncos (9-1, 4-1) will be hosting the Wyoming Cowboys (7-3, 4-1) on The Blue this weekend following a win over the San Diego Aztecs last week in California. The Pokes ride into Bronco Stadium after a win of their own over the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, 31-10. The game will be a tough challenge for both teams. Wyoming and Boise State are both tied for second in the Mountain West Conference standings after both lost games to conference champion TCU.
The game has bowl implications for both teams as well. Boise State is a BCS-buster underdog and looking for an outside chance of slipping into a BCS bowl if they can finish their season 11-1, while the Cowboys are also bowl eligible again for the second time under third-year coach Dave Christensen. A win over a ranked Boise State team would aid in their selection process.
The game will get underway Saturday, November 26, at 12 PM MTN in Boise and will be televised by the MTN (HD).
Boise State will be facing a very good Wyoming team. Two of the Cowboys' three losses were to TCU and #9 Nebraska, and the third was a meltdown at Utah State back on October 8. Two of their seven wins have come over Air Force and San Diego State. The Pokes are headed up by QB Brett Smith, 6-3 195 lbs, who is the front front-runner among NCAA freshman quarterbacks in total offense. Five times this season Smith has gained more than 300 yards. He is a prolific passer and has completed 203 of 338 passes for 2228 yards. You can add to that 15 TD's. He can also run when needed and has scrambled for 518 yards and 10 more TD's.
Smith has some good receivers he can toss the pigskin to. WR Chris McNeill, 6-1 180 lbs, who did not play last week, has caught 42 passes on the season, and averaging 12 yards each. Another is WR Mazi Ogbonna, 6-1 194 lbs, and who averaged 13 yards with 6 catches last week. To keep the Broncos defense honest and at home, RB Alvester Alexander, 5-11 204 lbs, will be in the Cowboy backfield. He has carried the ball 126 times and averaged 4.6 yards each in doing it. He's a shifty attack machine who can double up on the receiving if Smith decideds to pass.
The Broncos D-Line is expected to be ready for the Wyoming running game. DE Shea McClellin will be there to shut down the run, along with DL Billy Winn. And that could force Smith to go to the air where the Broncos have been vulnerable in pass coverage. It will be interesting to see if coach Christensen will try to have his offense exploit that weakness.
The Cowboy defense will be hard pressed to contain Broncos QB Kellen Moore, 6-1 191 lbs. Last week against San Diego State he was 28 of 40 passes for 366 yards and 4 TD's. So far he has passed for 2915 yards this season with a 73.8 % completion rating. He has also thrown for 35 TDs vs 6 INTs.
The Pokes linebackers and corners will be under a lot of pressure to keep up with WR Tyler Shoemaker, 6-1 213 lbs, who continues to burn his defenders with big plays. So far he has caught 48 balls for 800 yards (16.7 yards on average) and accounted for 14 TD's. Freshman WR Matt Miller, 6-3 215 lbs, has continued to stake out his place on the field as the future star of the receiving program.
With all the talent on both sides of the field and on both sides of the ball it promises to be an excellent game in spite of the Vegas odds makers and their predictions. They give it to Boise by 31. I give the Broncos the win, too, but by much less than the spread so put your money on Wyoming.
On another note, the Boise State football program and Make-A-Wish of Idaho have come together again for a "coach for a day" wish. An 8-year-old boy from Forest Park, Ga., will be on the sideline for the Nov. 26 game against Wyoming at Bronco Stadium with his dad and older brother.