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Game Preview: Boise State Broncos vs. San Diego State Aztecs

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SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Ryan Lindley #14 of the San Diego State Aztecs throws a pass against the Utah Utes at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20 2010 in San Diego California.  Utah won 38-34.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20: Quarterback Ryan Lindley #14 of the San Diego State Aztecs throws a pass against the Utah Utes at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20 2010 in San Diego California. Utah won 38-34. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The #10 ranked Boise State Broncos (8-1, 3-1)  will be heading down to San Diego for a tough road game this weekend to take on the SDSU Aztecs (6-3,3-2).  The game will be one of the toughest challenges of the season for both teams. Boise State is coming off a loss at home last weekend to TCU (8-2, 4-0) and San Diego is coming home from a closer than expected road-win over the Colorado State Rams (3-6, 1-3). Bronco nation is still in shock, and struggling to move on after a devastating one point loss on their blue turf last Saturday to the TCU Horned Frogs. That defeat has hit the team hard. Head coach Chris Petersen summed up his teams feelings Monday:  "All the losses are crushing," he said. "People don't understand how tough these losses are to the coaches, to the kids. You put your heart and soul into it year-round and when you don't get it done, it's hard." Hard or not, Petersen knows the team needs to suck it up, shake it off and move on. The season is short and there is no time to reflect on what could have been.   That game will get underway at 6 PM MTN Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium.  It will be televised nationally by the CBS Sports Network.
Last week the Horned Frogs rolled up a whopping 506 total yards and carved up a Boise State secondary that was riddled with injuries.  They made hamburger out of the Boise State backups at the corners.  Is that a weakness the Aztecs can look to exploit?  Maybe, unless the Bronco starters are healthy enough to play this week. QB Ryan Lindley, 6-4 230 lbs, is a big, NFL style quarterback who is as good a quarterback as you can get. He'll be looking to exploit the same weakness in the Broncos secondary as TCU was able to exploit. Last week Lindley threw for only 154 yards, but it was enough for him to get to 11,494 career passing yards, and passing former BYU quarterback Max Hall's 11,365 for the Mountain West Conference record and Todd Santos' 11,425 for the San Diego State record. The Broncos defensive line will be led by DE Shea McClellin, 6-3 258 lbs, and helped by the likes of DE Tyrone Crawford, 6-4 273 lbs. The Bronco D-line held the Horned Frogs to only 33 rushing yards.  But the Aztecs have Ronnie Hillman, 5-10, 190 lbs, the nation's second-leading rusher. That is, if he is able to play. Hillman has a slight high ankle sprain and is questionable, according to what Aztec head coach Rocky Long has indicated to the media. If he plays it will be very interesting to see if the Broncos can keep him from running amuck.  Last week at Ft. Collins he ran for 80 yards on 24 carries for San Diego State.  Unfortunately for the Aztecs, backup RB Walter Kazee, 5-9, 175 lbs, who has been running his game as well and can poke in a TD now and then, is out for the year. The Broncos D-line could breathe a huge sigh of relief if both of those two are out of the picture. But not so the San Diego defense. They are certain to have their hands full trying to keep Boise State QB Kellen Moore, 6-0 191 lbs, from connecting downfield with his receivers.  Last weekend Moore threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns and twice drove the Broncos into scoring range, one in the final 55 seconds of  a close game that could have went either way.  He has both Matt Miller, 6-3 215 lbs, and Tyler Shoemaker, 6-1 213 lbs, to make the big catches downfield again this week.  Miller made a spectacular, one-handed grab in the endzone last week for a TD. The Broncos will be looking to establish a running game to backup Moore's passing. Last week RB D.J. Harper, 5-9 210 lbs, who started in place of injured RB Doug Martin, was able to romp for 125 yards on 24 carries. He also punched in a couple of TDs. So you can already figure that he's going to get a crack at the San Diego D-line, whether Martin plays or not. But the real contest might be between Boise State kicker Dan Goodale and San Diego kicker Abelardo Perez.   Last week Goodale's 39-yard kick sailed wide right as time expired to seal the Broncos' loss, while Perez, who had missed from 22 and 44 yards earlier, put a 37-yarder right down the middle for the San Diego win. It's no big deal for Perez to trot onto the field at Qualcomm Stadium for a kick. He's a senior. But for Goodale, it's going to be a real gut-check when he has to take to field. We'll see how the freshman handles it. My prediction for the game: Boise State Broncos 41, San Diego State Aztecs 24.