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Bronco Preview: Wyoming @ Boise State

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The Broncos play host to the Cowboys in a game that might decide the Mountain Division

NCAA Football: Boise State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday night, the Wyoming Cowboys travel to Boise to take on the Broncos. It is the biggest game of the Mountain West season to this point; the winner will take control in the Mountain division and control their destiny. The game is also the headliner of the late night schedule and should get plenty of national attention. The Broncos have plenty of questions that need to be answered heading into this one.

When: Saturday 8:15 MT

Where: Boise, Idaho (Albertsons Stadium)

How to Watch: ESPN

Head-to Head: Boise State leads the all time series with a record of 12-1.

Will the defense work out the kinks?

Wyoming isn’t exactly known for its potent, passing attack, and the Broncos have been solid against the run the last few weeks. But, it is fair to question the preparation and depth of the defense after their last two performances. The secondary was absolutely torched against San Jose State and will look for retribution Saturday night. The injury to Kekoa Nawahine and absence of Tyreque Jones were noticeable against the Spartans. This might be a good game for true freshmen Markel Reed and JL Skinner to get some more run in the secondary.

The biggest issue for the defense has been the lack of turnovers forced. This will be hard to do against a run heavy offense like Wyoming. If Boise State is going to have any luck forcing turnovers, they will likely have to come in the form of fumbles.

Can Boise State start strong on offense? Are they prepared to air it out?

Wyoming has one of the best run defenses in the country and one of the worst pass defenses in the country. Against San Jose State, Boise State abandoned the pass and went to the run. They may have to take the opposite approach against an opportunistic Wyoming squad. The Cowboys have taken the approach of forcing opponents to beat them through the air and getting some opportunistic turnovers to come away with narrow victories.

Protecting Hank will be the key to victory here; maybe Boise State can learn something from the quick strike, passing attack of San Jose State. The best game plan for Boise State will be getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers in space; Khalil Shakir needs to be a bigger part of the game plan than he has been in recent weeks. This feels like a game where Hank will have to approach the 300 yard mark for the Broncos to come away with a victory.

Can the Broncos reach 28 points?

This game has the making of a low scoring slugfest; touchdowns are going to be a premium in this one. The Broncos’ offense does not need to put up gaudy numbers to come away with the victory if they can approach 400 yards of total offense. Wyoming has had games where they have given up a fair amount of yards, but they have been excellent in forcing turnovers in the red zone or holding opponents to field goal attempts. Boise State will look to reverse that trend.

Pregame Notes

  • Sean Chambers will be out for the year. Tyler Vander Waal will get the start at quarterback for the Cowboys.
  • Coach Harsin said during Monday’s press conference that John Molchon, Kekoa Nawahine, and Robert Mahone would be back in the lineup Saturday night.

Vegas Line: Boise State -11.5

My prediction: Boise State always proves me wrong when I doubt them, but I have to go with my head on this one. I think the spread is too high in this game regardless of who the quarterback is for Wyoming. The Cowboy defense will be well prepared and will force Hank to make some plays with his legs. The key to this game will be getting rid of the ball quickly. While I don’t think they cover the spread, the home field advantage will prove to be too much for the Cowboys. Wyoming 14-Boise State 24