Game Preview: Boise State Broncos vs. the New Mexico Lobos

The #7 ranked Boise State Broncos (10-1, 5-1) will be hosting the New Mexico Lobos (1-10, 1-5) on The Blue this weekend for their last game of the regular season. The Broncos return following a 36-14 win there over the Wyoming Cowboys last week while the Lobos come to the City of Trees after a bye week and a 31-10 loss to the same Cowboy team in Laramie two weeks ago. The game will be important for both teams. A decisive win for Boise State secures their second place standings in the Mountain West Conference and would aid in their bowl selection for post-season play. They will need a blowout win just to cover the 48.5 point spread. Boise State is also an underdog as a potential BCS-buster and looking to finish their season 11-1. New Mexico, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to end those chances with a win of their own over a ranked Boise State team. A win would salvage another dismal year of double-digit losses that saw the firing of their former head coach and at the same time pave the way going forward for incoming coach Bob Davie. The game will get underway this Saturday, December 3, at 4 PM MTN in Boise and will be televised by The Mtn HD. Boise State will be facing a New Mexico team that has been nothing short of awful this year. Headed up by interm head coach and former defensive coordinator George Barlow, the Lobos have gone 1-7 since he took over halfway through the season. Improvements have been made, but they come too late in the season to save the Lobos from their final loss on the year up in potato land. But the Lobos have good players and plenty of talent that can shine and do some damage if Boise State gives them an opening. One of those Lobos is QB B.R. Holbrook, 6-3 195 lbs, a junior who has passed 208 times for 1,345 yards this year. He has also thrown for 4 TDs and doesn't hesitate to run when the needed. The trouble is he’s also tried to force some passes and hurried others and those passes have resulted in 7 INTs. It doesn't help that the offensive line has allowed him to get sacked 15 times.

Barlow has several good receivers he can toss the football to. Ty Kirk was supposed to be the designatied big-play threat, but he's finished for the season with a knee injury. In fact, the Lobos have so many players hurt and/or warming the benches its hard to find players who could be a real threat to the Broncos. Deon Long, 6-1 190 lbs, is one who has played well and shown heart, even though he has been fighting turf-toe and ankle injuries. During the win over UNLV two weeks ago, Long caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from Holbrook. Other WR's who have stepped up their game recently are Lucas Reed, 6-6 232 lbs, and Quintell Solomon, 6-3 185 lbs. The running side of the ballgame has been handed largely by RB Crusoe Gongbay, 6-1 196 lbs. Gongbay is also a duel-threat offensive weapon. In the last game against Wyoming he not only had 10 runs averaging 5.2 yards a pop, but caught 4 passes worth 36 more.

The Lobos will be facing a tough, experienced Broncos D-Line that is capable of handling almost any kind of running game that New Mexico might be expected to throw at them. The Lobos only gained 135 rushing yards in their last outing, and they are not favored to do as much Saturday against Boise DE Shea McClellin, 6-3 258 lbs, and his D-Line wrecking crew. That crew is expected to include All-American Billy Winn. The Broncos defense has also made a few changes in the secondary so the Lobos receivers will not have it as easy as TCU, San Diego and Wyoming did with deep passes. The lack of depth at the corners has been fixed for now. Lee Hightower, a true freshman, has now joined the lineup at corner. Bronco standout safety George Iloka, 6-3 216 lbs, has been moved from safety to cornerback and Travis Stanaway, 5-11 213 lbs, has replaced him. In his second career start last week Stanaway made nine tackles, intercepted a pass, and forced a fumble.

The Bronco offense will be championed by QB Kellen Moore, 6-1 191 lbs, who will be making his final home-game appearance Saturday. He is 272 of 372 passes on the year for 3,194 yards. Last week he guided the Broncos to 479 total yards against the Cowboys. A lot of those yards came from a good running game behind RB Doug Martin, 5-9 215 lbs. So far Martin has rushed 210 times for 1,038 yards, and last week his 26 carries accounted for 153 of those. RB D.J. Harper, 5-9 210 lbs, has been sharing Martin's duties in the backfield.

The Lobos defenders will have to stay deep if they want to shut down Moore's passing. Unfortunately for New Mexico, Broncos freshman WR Matt Miller, 6-3 215 lbs, has continued to shine on the field. He outdid himself with a spactacular hail mary TD catch last week while sprawled flat on his back on the Cowboy goal line. Another player they need to cover is WR Tyler Shoemaker, 6-1 213 lbs, who has tied Austin Pettis' school record of 14 scores. He only needs one to break it.

With all the problems in the New Mexico program is no wonder the oddsmakers have given the game to the Broncos. CBSports.com has the Lobos ranked the #115th team in the country. I'll give the Broncos the win and the 48.5 points as well. You have to figure that the Broncos need a huge win here, and they'll look to send Moore and the other seniors off with a blowout.

A Boise State win Saturday would mean another record being broken: this time it would be by Broncos head coach Chris Petersen. He is tied for the school record for career coaching wins and win over New Mexico would put him head of Tony Knap with an astounding 72-6 record. Knap’s great record of 71-19-1 has stood for 36 years.

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