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Game Preview: Boise State vs. Toledo

Boise State Broncos are coming off a bye week after their Chick-fil-A opener in the Atlanta Georgia Dome on September 3rd. Are the Broncos feeling good about themselves? Absolutely. The Broncos went down to Georgia with an 0-4 record against SEC teams, including an ugly 48-13 loss at Georgia's Sanford Stadium back in 2005. That sorry record is behind them now.

Are they feeling confident this week? Well, heck yeah! But hopefully not over confident. Coach Petersen wants his Broncos to appoach each game one at a time, like the one in front of them is for all the marbles and there is no room for error. He knows they have to stay focused because there are a lot of good teams ahead of them. No game is too small, no opponent can be taken for granted. One slip or loss would probably end any chance of appearing in another BCS game.

Friday night the Broncos take on the Mid-American Conference Toldeo Rockets in the Glass Bowl. Boise will be the highest ranked team to ever play there. Friday night's action begins at 6 pm MTN will be on ESPN.

Tim Beckman starts his third year as the head coach of the Toledo team. He was the former defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State University. Since that time he has built up the Rockets with a talented offense, led by QB Austin Dantin, a 6-2 200 lbs, junior out of Tallahassee, Florida. Last year as the backup Dantin threw for 1254 yards with a 66.1 percent completion average that inclued 7 TD's. One was a 73 yard bomb. But he also had 8 interceptions and was sacked 14 times.

The Rockets finished the 2010 season 8-5 (7-1 MAC), and went to the Little Ceasars Bowl where they suffered a 2-point loss to Florida International, 32-34. This year they look to do much better. In their season opener two weeks ago Dantin passed for 161 yards and 3 TD's on their way to a 58-22 romp over hapless New Hampshire. The Rockets put up an impressive 561 yards of total offense. Backup QB Terrence Owens was responsible for 122 of those yards and 2 TD's. The Rockets QB's have a full stable of good receivers to throw to: Eric Page, 5-10 180 lbs; Adonis Thomas, 5-10 185 lbs; and Bernard Reedy, 5-9 175 lbs, who is proving to be the deep man. In the past two games, both Page and Reedy have caught TD passes that have gone for more than 60 yards.

The Toledo running game has shown improvement this year, led by dual-threat RB Adonis Thomas who is mentioned above as a leading receiver. This jack-of-all-trades has shown he is also the most formidable runner in the Toledo arsenal. In two games he has had 23 carries for 162 yards, and one was a 46-yard TD run. That is 7 yards a pop out of the backfield and could give the Boise State D-line fits. The Toledo running back finished last season with 1098 yards and averaged 6.3 years per carry.

Last week, the Rockets took on #15 Ohio State and scored the most points by an Ohio school against any Ohio State team since 1909. Some say the Toledo team let that game slip away when they could have won it in a 22-27 loss. The Rockets actually outgained the Buckeyes with 338 total yards of offense to 301. But they also had 14 penalties, a missed field goal, and had a punt returned against them. And even then, at the end of the fourth quarter, Toledo was driving for the winning touchdown and were within 17 yards of the Buckeye endzone when they ran out of gas. That was when backup Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens threw a hurried pass for an incompletion on fourth down with 48 seconds left.

So we know that the Rockets can play tough, aggressive football, and they have the talent and tenacity to upset any top ranked team. No one should take this improving team for granted. The Ohio State Buckeyes learned that lesson the hard way and only by the grace of a rushed pass avoided a loss. Hopefully, Boise State Broncos will have seen that in the game tapes and not be dwelling on last year's home victory.

Which brings us to Friday night's action. Boise State comes into the game the overwhelming favorite. The Broncos racked up 390 total yards of offense in the game at the Georgia Dome. Senior QB Kellen Moore, 6-1 191 lbs, was 28 of 31 and passed for 261 yards. Three of those passes were for touchdowns, and one was his 100th touchdown pass. That game also gave the Heisman candidate 11,128 total passing yards for his career. He only needs 8 wins during the 2011 season to pass Colt McCoy for most wins by a quarterback in NCAA history.

Moore didn't win the Georgia game single-handedly. Some of the Georgia game standouts that Toldeo will be facing are WRs Matt Miller, 6-3 215 lbs, Kyle Efaw, 6-4 242 lbs, Gabe Linehan, 6-3 232 lbs, and Mitch Burroughs, 5-9 187 lbs. Star TE Tyler Shoemaker, 6-1 213 lbs, will also be out there catching balls for the Broncos. Shoemaker, Miller and Efaw all three caught passes for touchdowns in the Atlanta game.

The offensive running game is going to be front and center Friday night. If the Broncos are ahead and the victory is assured by the third quarter, OC Brent Pease will replace Moore with QB Joe Southwick, 6-1 191 lbs. Southwick is a proven backup who will be getting his chance to put up some of his own numbers. Once that happens, the Broncos will be grinding it out with a running game. That's because the Broncos will be looking to improve on that front. They only generated 129 yards on 37 carries at Georgia. You can expect RBs Doug Martin, 5-9 215 lbs, and J. D. Harper, 5-9 210 lbs, along with a few others to get plenty of ground action against the Rockets. But it will be interesting to see if QB Grant Hedrick, 6-1 191 lbs, will be out there doing any running, and what running role, if any, Mitch Burroughs will play in the offense.

The Rockets will find the Bronco defensive line, anchored by senior DE Shea McClellin, 6-3 258 lbs, the same hard, top-ranked defense they faced last season. That game was hosted by Boise State and they dominated the Rockets, winning by a score of 57-14. That same Bronco defense is coming off a game where they were outweighed 329-282 on average, yet still sacked the quarterback six times. Unless the Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin can get rid of the ball in a hurry, he could find himself in real trouble and have defensive tackle Chase Baker, 6-1 296 lbs, in his face all night. The going might be a little easier against the Bronco secondary which looked a little rusty and gave up a few big plays in its first game. But keep in mind that last minute changes occured when starting safety Cedric Febis, 6-3 202 lbs, WR Geraldo Boldewijn, 6-4 200 lbs, and defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, 6-3 307 lbs, were held out of the Georgia game "due to a review of their NCAA eligibility," according a press release. As a mention here, at the present time no one knows if these players from The Netherlands will be cleared in time for the Toledo game.

Other Bronco players who are also questionable are injured starters LG Joe Kellogg, 6-2 303 lbs, and FB Dan Paul, 6-1 250 lbs. As of now both are listed as "day to day" along with TE Chandler Koch, 6-2 250 lbs.

Special teams will probably remain intact for the Toledo game, but one fresh face you might see on the squad this week is CB Ebenezer "Ebo" Makinde, 5-11 172 lbs. Ebo returns to the lineup after being out all summer with a chest injury. Freshman kicker Dan Goodale, 5-9 183 lbs, will start. He was 5 for 5 on extra points, but hasn't had to kick a field goal yet; punter Brad Elkin, 6-2 194 lbs, will continue to do the punting duties after putting 6 punts inside the Bulldog 20; and WR Chris Potter, 5-9 158 lbs, will be doing the returns. Potter brought the ball back 49 yards on one of his returns during the Georgia game. LS Chris Roberson, 6-0 232 lbs, will continue to do the snapping duties.

So special teams are up for the Toledo test. We will have to wait and see if the whole team will be up for Friday night's game as well.

My score prediction: Bronces 41 - Rockets 24.