On Saturday night, Boise State defeated Utah State to secure a spot in the most anticipated conference, championship game in Mountain West history. The game will feature two ranked teams as the Bulldogs look to avenge their previous loss on “The Blue.” Let’s take a look at what the Broncos will need to do to come away with another victory.
Time: 5:45 MT
Location: Boise, Idaho (Albertsons Stadium)
How to Watch: ESPN
Get to McMaryion early and often:
When McMaryion has time to work, he is as good as any quarterback in the nation. When he is pressured, he is often inaccurate and prone to mistakes. The Broncos did an excellent job getting to McMaryion a few weeks ago. The Bulldogs will look to stop Curtis Weaver, so it will be important for other Bronco pass rushers to get to McMaryion.
Have a balanced attack:
The Broncos have managed to find their run game the second half of the season, and it has made a world of difference. When Rypien is around 300 yards and Mattison is over 100 yards, Boise State is nearly impossible to beat. That seems to be the magic number for the Broncos offense.
Will any injured players return?
The Broncos managed to defeat the Bulldogs earlier in the season without several important players. John Hightower is the name to watch for here. The Bulldogs have had some issues with the deep ball, and Hightower really opens things up for Boise State.
Force the Bulldogs to have an effective run game:
The Bulldogs are mediocre, at best, on the ground. They managed less than four yards per rush three weeks ago. If the Broncos can replicate that, they are in great shape. We all know that Senior receiver, KeeSean Johnson, is their biggest weapon; if the Broncos can neutralize Johnson and force Fresno to run the ball, they have a great chance to come away with the win.
Throw the ball down the field:
Brett Rypien is far and away the best quarterback Fresno State has faced this season. The Broncos were able to have some success down the field against the Bulldogs, and they will need to be able to replicate that again on Saturday. If the Broncos are without Shakir and Hightower again, that will be tough. Sophomore receiver, CT Thomas, will need to continue to be the number three guy if injuries continue to be a factor.
Avoid special teams miscues:
This has been puzzling. The Broncos have struggled in almost every aspect of special teams this season. Special teams play doesn’t need to be great, but don’t let it lose the game.
Vegas Line: Broncos -2.5
My Prediction: I know the old saying, “It is hard to beat the same team twice.” I certainly think the Broncos are in for a dogfight, and Coach Tedford will make some adjustments. However, I think the Broncos are playing better football right now and will find a way to win. Boise State 24-Fresno State 21.