WEEK 14: Boise State Broncos vs New Mexico Lobos
WHEN: Saturday, November 30, 8:15 PM MT
WHERE: Broncos Stadium (36,387)
CONFERENCES: Mountain West, Mountain Division
2013 SEASON: Boise State, 7-4, 5-2 (MW); New Mexico, 3-8, 1-6 (MW)
COACHES: Boise State head coach Chris Petersen (91-12); New Mexico head coach Bob Davie (7-17, second year NM, 42-42 all time)
WEB STREAMING: Watch ESPN2
RADIO: Bronco Radio Network: KBOI (670 AM) and KKGL (96.9 FM) in the Boise area--- Lobo Radio Network: 770 KKOB-AM in the Albuquerque area
SERIES RECORD: 5th meeting. The Broncos are 4-0 against the Lobos
LAST MEETING: 2012, at University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM. Boise State 32, New Mexico, 29
Boise State will host New Mexico for the conference season finale for both teams. It will be the last game for the year for head coach Bob Davie and his Lobos, while Boise State head coach Chris Petersen and the Broncos have qualified for a post-season bowl opportunity. The Broncos are also clinging onto a longshot to face Fresno State again for the Mountain West Championship.
Both teams are coming off losses on the road last week. The New Mexico Lobos, 3-8, 1-6 (MW), suffered a mauling at Fresno State, 69-28, and the Boise State Broncos, 7-4, 5-2 (MW) gave it up in the first half to San Diego State and went down 31-34. Now both teams want to close out regular season conference play with a win.
What to expect when New Mexico has the ball: Boise State has dropped four games this year. Coach Davie and his staff probably notice that the Broncos defense gives up huge chunks of open-field yardage, preferring instead to fight it out inside the trenches of the red zone. Much of that lost yardage has been due to a weak Boise State secondary that has shown poor performance in defending against the pass. The Broncos are giving up an average of 414 total yards a game and 265 have been to pass defense. The problem for the Lobos is that they probably can’t capitalize on that. QB Cole Gautsche (concussion) will miss the team's final two games, the Albuquerque Journal is reporting. That leaves the heavy lifting to QB Clayton Mitchem, 6-1, 183 lbs. He’s 39 of 68 for 618 yards in the air for a 57% completion rating. That’s an average of 9.1 yards and that’s good. But he’s also been sacked 18 times and that’s bad. The Lobo receivers are also playing just mediocre and that’s also bad.
Ordinarily that would put the New Mexico running game up against the Broncos D-line and corps of linebackers that is anchored by C Bryan Douglas, 5-9, 170 lbs, recently returned LB Ben Weaver, 6-0, 233 lbs, and DE Demarcus Lawrence, 6-3, 244 lbs. Unfortunately for the hapless Lobos, their star running back Casey Carrier, who is also the #2 running back in the league, is also out with a concussion. That leaves Crusoe Gongbay, 6-0, 210 lbs, but he is doubtful due to hip and knee injuries. If it gets any worse Coach Davie will have to suit up the water boy. It could be very long night for the Lobos offense in Bronco Stadium.
What to expect when Boise State has the ball: The Broncos have struggled all year offensively, both with and without starting QB Joe Southwick, 6-1, 202 lbs. Southwick is expected to start after sitting out the mid-season with a broken ankle. The last time he touched the football under center was on October 19, versus Nevada and that lead to his injury in his first snap of the game. His replacement, backup QB Brian Hedrick, 6-4, 200 lbs, has been inconsistent in his role at quarterback, going 3-2 in the past five games as starter.
With Southwick still hobbling around the field he is certain to get a lot of pressure from the Lobos. That’s why Southwick will be called on to hand it off quickly---that and the fact that the Lobos are last in the league in stopping the run. Broncos RB Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 215 lbs, is bound to have a good day burning through the Lobo D-line. Last week in the loss to San Diego, he accounted for 103 and almost all of Boise State’s rushing yards. So far this season Ajayi has racked up 1,181 yards on 204 carries, averaging 5.8 yards a touch and good for the 4th best rusher in the conference.
That is not to say that Southwick won’t air it out. The Lobos are also last in the league in total defense giving up an average of 523.8 yards per game, and 259 yards of that average has been given up to the pass. Look for WR’s Shane Williams-Rhodes, 5-6, 158 lbs, and Matt Miller, 6-3, 218 lbs, to be on the receiving end of a majority of both Southwick’s and Hedrick’s passes.
Special teams: As mentioned here before last week's game between the Broncos and San Diego State special teams could have a definite effect on the outcome of that game. Alas, Boise State kicker Trevor Harman’s punt of 34 yards was returned by San Diego for a TD to tie the game, and then Boise State kicker Dan Goodale missed a game-winning field goal as time expeired in regulation. So both of those guys will be looking for some redemption on Saturday evening. Goodale, by the way, is tied for #1 in the conference in field goals. Shane Williams-Rhodes leads the conference in punt returns and will want to build on that as well.
New Mexico has a few stars on special teams of their own. Kicker Justice Adams, 6-4, 200 lbs, is 3rd in PAT’s making 47 of 48 extra points. New Mexico also leads the conference in kickoff returns thanks to return specialist Carlos Wiggins, 5-8, 155 lbs, who is averaging 13.5 yards a return. Wiggins can also be found in the offensive backfield, where he has rushed for 237 yards averaging 18.2 yards a carry and includes a couple of TDs.
No one is giving the Lobos much of chance of pulling out the win. Most of the team stats, injuries, and the home field advantage puts the win squarely in the Boise State column. The odds makers have the Broncos by a 35 to 37-point spread and that seems about right---if you don’t consider that last week they had the Broncos as a sure win as well.