Welcome to the second edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” During the offseason I will be featuring some of the most important games of the 2017 Mountain West Season. This week it will be the Mountain West Championship.
Boise State’s Defense in the Second Half
The Broncos defense was spotty at times in the first half. The Bulldogs were able to break off some solid runs and Marcus McMaryion was able to connect on underneath throws with relative ease. The defensive backs were able to make adjustments after a shaky performance the week before. The defensive line stepped up the pressure in the second half as Jabril Frazier and Curtis Weaver were able to put consistent pressure on McMaryion and the Bulldogs. Ultimately, it was an interception by first round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch that sealed the victory for the Broncos.
Fresno State’s Secondary
Fresno State had one of the most impressive secondaries I saw this past season. This game showcased why they are going to be a force this year. The Broncos are known for their efficient passing game, outside of Cedrick Wilson and one deep ball to AJ Richardson, the Broncos struggled to throw the ball. The Bulldogs forced Rypien to go through his progressions and gave the defensive line ample time to provide pressure.
As I watched this game back, I found the offensive struggles a bit perplexing. Both teams seemed like they could move the ball with relative ease when they were on their side of the field, but things changed once they passed midfield. Receivers on both sides struggled to find space and the defensive lines put a clamp on the run game. Both defensive coordinators deserve a tip of the cap as they did everything they could to put their teams in a position to win.
I’m going to take a different approach here. I watched a bunch of games championship weekend and attendance was abysmal at almost all of them. Many of those games were at neutral site locations, where fans would rather attend the bowl game if they are forced to choose. For the Mountain West Championship, the Broncos had the luxury of hosting the game and attendance ended up being just over 24,000. It was easily the lowest attended game of the season at Albertsons Stadium. There are lots of factors to look at when analyzing attendance for championship games: cost, short notice, weather, commercial breaks, etc. It is a problem that is plaguing college football as the experience at home continues to be more convenient for many fans.
Overall, it was a fantastic football game that provided all the drama you look for in a championship game. Both teams return many of their key players and it wouldn’t shock me if we see a rematch this season.
Stay tuned, next week I will be reviewing Battle for the Bronze Boot between Colorado State and Wyoming.