On Saturday night at 7:15 PM EST Utah State will take on Boise State and try to get their first ever win on the Blue. So what are some of the things to watch out for and who has the edge when the Aggies and Broncos face off?
Three Things to Watch Out For
Utah State Secondary Against Boise State Passing Game
Hank Bachmeier did not play in this game last year due to injury. He was replaced by Jaylon Henderson, who passed for three touchdowns and 178 yards. This year Boise State has a lot of experience at receiver and it is believed that Bachmeier will be healthy to start this time around. This will be a very important matchup if Utah State is going to pull off the upset as a double digit underdog on the road. Bachmeier when healthy las season made some incredible plays against teams such as Florida State, Air Force, and Hawaii. As a sophomore now, Bryan Harsin has stated the Bachmeier has developed in areas that he struggled in last year. Trey Lefeged and Shaq Bond, two of the best safeties in the Mountain West will have to be on their game.
Three of the players that the secondary will need to take into account are Khalil Shakir, CT Thomas and Octavius Evans. Evans was expected to be a big contributor for the Broncos when he arrived as a freshman and though he has struggled, he will have an opportunity to shine if the Aggies don’t keep him in check. The linebackers will also need to watch out for George Holani if he gets down the field and stopping Holani was something that Utah State struggled with last year, allowing 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns so linebackers Cash Gillam and Kevin Meitzenheimer will have their work cut out for them. There are just too many weapons for Boise State on offense.
Edge: Boise State
Utah State Defensive Line vs Boise State Offensive Line
This is going to be an interesting position battle because so little is known about the Boise State offensive line. The Broncos lose most of the starters from last years offensive line but they do return talent in John Ojukwu and Garret Curran, Jake Stetz, and Nick Crabtree. The Aggies return Justus Te’i who had 21 tackles for Utah State last season and Hale Motu’apuaka as well as Marcus Moore. The key for Utah State to ultimately have success on defense is to take advantage of a young offensive line and get force Bachmeier into mistakes. If Utah State can get pressure on both Bachmeier and Holani and can control the line of scrimmage, their chances of taking down Boise State are going to increase greatly. Utah State will need to push back and will also need to make tackles in space with experience at the running back and receiver positions. The Broncos have recently struggled on the offensive line and with younger players, the Aggies may be able to get more pressure.
Edge: Utah State
Boise State Defensive Line vs Utah State Offensive Line
Similarly to the offensive line, the Broncos also lose quite a few starters on the defensive line. They lose Curtis Weaver, Sonatone Lui but they also return Demetri Washington, Scale Igiehon and Scott Matlock, who have all seen a little playing time and have impressed so far during the preseason. Utah State returns Alfred Edwards, Andy Koch, and Karter Shaw. During the preseason, this is widely believed to be one of the best offensive lines in the Mountain West and Boise State will need to get pressure up front with a young defensive line to push forward on the Aggies offensive line and get pressure on Jason Shelley and Jaylen Warren. If the Broncos defensive line can get pressure and force mistakes, the linebackers and safeties can capitalize. Though Boise State is young on the defensive front, they are always very talented at this position but Utah State gets the slight edge with the experience that they have.
Edge: Utah State
Final Analysis and Score Prediction
Though Utah State has the edge in two of the three factors, they aren’t very large edges. The Aggies have struggled against Boise State ever since the 2015 win and have struggled overall in the series against the Broncos. This is a Boise State team that is young but more experienced in certain positions that are going to matter such as quarterback, running back and in the secondary on defense. Utah State may have a good secondary and offensive line but that will only be enough to make this game closer. There is a lot of unknown about Jason Shelley since he hasn’t played quarterback since 2018 and the receivers for Utah State really struggled last year. If Boise State had a younger offense Utah State might have more of a chance to pull off the upset but Boise State was good on offense last year and should be even better this year with more developed and experienced positions. Utah State may be able to keep this game closer in the first half but the Broncos will do just enough in the second half to pull off a sound victory. The Broncos may not cover the 16.5 point spread as this is the season opener for both teams and there is bound to be some costly mistakes, but the Broncos win by at least 10.
Score: Boise State: 31 Utah State: 17