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Game Preview: Utah State @ Boise State

Boise looks to protect “The Blue” and win their second straight Mountain Division championship

Utah State v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

Boise State has played some epic games on “The Blue,” but no game has had higher stakes than their showdown with the Aggies on Saturday night. The winner of the game will host Fresno State for the Mountain West championship. Also, the Aggies will be the highest ranked team to ever visit Boise. The game is also getting the main event late night spot, as it will air on ESPN. With so much on the line, let’s take a look at what the Broncos need to do to come away with the victory.

Time: 8:15 MT

Location: Albertsons Stadium (Boise, Idaho)

Channel: ESPN

Will anyone return from injury?

The Broncos have been without some key contributors in recent weeks, as injuries continue to plague the Broncos. Boise State’s defense has had some impressive showings considering they have been missing more than half of their starters lately. We know the Broncos will be without David Moa, Riley Whimpey, and Deandre Pierce, but they hope to get some key contributors back on defense, as the status of Tyreque Jones, Durrant Miles, and Chase Hatada remain in question.

On the offensive end, the Broncos hope to get some of their dynamic wide receivers back on the field. They struggled to stretch the field against the Lobos with the absence of John Hightower and Khalil Shakir. Although it is a long shot, Boise State fans are also hoping for the return of highly touted, wide receiver, Octavius Evans.

Can a limited defense slow down an electric offense?

Throughout the majority of the season, Utah State has looked unstoppable on offense. The Broncos do have a blueprint for success, as the Aggies struggled to move the ball in their games with Wyoming and Colorado State. The Broncos will need to be aggressive in pursuing Jordan Love; he has struggled when he has pressure in his face, and the Broncos have the edge rushers needed to make him uncomfortable.

Can the Broncos continue to pound the ball?

The Bronco run game has improved significantly over the last month. Alexander Mattison broke 1,000 yards last week and has surpassed 100 yards in three of the past four games. Utah State showed some chinks in their armor against the Rams last week, as Izzy Matthews and the struggling run game of Colorado State was able to find success.

Will Rypien seal his legacy?

We all know who the greatest quarterback in Boise State history was...but the second spot is up for debate. Rypien has a chance to put himself in position to take that spot with a strong finish to the season. Rypien was impressive against some of his toughest competition this season, and he will need a similar performance on Saturday night.

Are the Aggies as good as advertised?

Bronco fans asked themselves the same questions when Fresno State visited two weeks ago. Utah State has played an easy schedule with their best victories coming over 7-5 Hawaii and 6-5 BYU. The Aggies have a chance to prove the doubters wrong and keep themselves in the NY6 conversation.

Vegas Line: Boise State -3

My Prediction: Albertsons Stadium will be rocking with the Division on the line. Can Utah State deal with the most hostile environment they have seen since the first week of the season? I think the Aggies will put up a fight, but will fall short as the Broncos’ defensive line sacks Love three times, and the defense gets two turnovers. Boise State wins on a late touchown, 31-24.