Utah State and Boise State went toe to toe for a spot in the Mountain West Championship game. The Broncos were able to come away with the victory and slow down the Aggie offense that had been lights out most of the year. Let’s revisit my keys to the game and see how the Broncos stacked up to their opponent:
Will anyone return from injury?
Nope, and it didn’t matter. The Broncos were still without their most dynamic receivers, John Hightower and Khalil Shakir. The Broncos were also more limited than expected on defense, as they were without Kekoa Nawahine. Their defense only featured five starters from the beginning of the season, making the win even more impressive.
Can a limited defense slow down an electric offense?
Yep. The Aggies entered the game averaging nearly 50 points; the Broncos held them to 24 and did an excellent job controlling the ground game, holding Utah State to only 62 yards rushing. The Aggies were perfectly content airing the ball out. They abandoned the run game early, only rushing the ball 19 times. If history is any indication, one dimensional teams have a hard time winning on “The Blue.”
Can the Broncos continue to pound the ball?
The recent recipe for success has been airing the ball out early and pounding the ball late. The Broncos continued to utilize that game plan against the Aggies on Saturday night. Alexander Mattison had his best performance of the year, carrying the ball 37 times for 200 yards. He likely sealed his spot as a first team Mountain West running back. The final drive was all Mattison, as he accounted for 75 yards and a touchdown. If Mattison isn’t the offensive player of the week, I will be shocked.
Will Rypien seal his legacy?
Rypien was great again. He passed for over 300 yards once again and took excellent care of the ball. In my opinion, Rypien is clearly the second best quarterback in Boise State history. He can easily take that spot with a victory over Fresno State on Saturday night.
Are the Aggies as good as advertised?
I think so. Matt Wells did a phenomenal job this year, and the maturation of quarterback, Jordan Love, was impressive. However, the Aggies are still a step or two behind the Broncos. This game was closer than it should have been. The Broncos continued to struggle with the kicking game and finishing drives in the red zone. Hopefully, the Mountain West can find a bowl destination for the Aggies. They deserve better than the Potato Bowl.
Vegas Line: Boise State -3. The Broncos beat the spread on a late touchdown and win by 9.
My Prediction: Boise State 31- 24. The Broncos won 33-24. Pretty close on the prediction, but the game didn’t play out as I expected. I thought the Broncos would need to play a clean game to come away with the victory. They overcame struggles in the red zone, some questionable penalties, injuries, and struggles in the kicking game. Defensive coordinator, Andy Avalos, deserves a ton of credit. He slowed down an electric offense without half of his starting defense.
Be sure to stay tuned for my preview of the Mountain West Championship, a special edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” and our final round of bowl projections.