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Boise State vs. Wyoming: Three Burning Questions and a Prediction

Coming off of two canceled games, Boise State travels to Laramie looking to secure a spot in the MWC Championship game

Las Vegas Bowl Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

BOISE STATE VS AIR FORCE

Location: Laramie, Wyoming (War Memorial Stadium)

Date/Time: Saturday, December 12 at 4:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)

Television: CBS Sports

Head-to-Head: Boise State leads the all-time series with 11 wins against one loss. The Broncos have won the last three matchups. Wyoming’s lone win in the series was a 30 – 28 win in Laramie in 2016.

Betting Line: Boise State is an 11.5-point favorite with the over/under at 47 points. The betting markets suggest an outcome of Boise State 29, Wyoming 18.

Three Burning Questions:

1. What wins out in the battle of rust versus rest?

Boise State played their last game on November 21st. They have had three weeks off. Wyoming will be playing their third game in that time frame. Adding to the rust vs rest question is the return of players that have been out even longer than three weeks due to injury.

One such player who is anticipated to return to action is sophomore running back George Holani. The exciting back hasn’t played a full game since the season opener on October 24th.

The time off isn’t all bad for the Broncos. Head Coach Bryan Harsin confirmed that Boise State was a able to get an early jump on preparation for the Wyoming contest, and players have had extra time to study film and prepare their bodies for the elevation and weather that is always a factor in Laramie.

Ultimately, a slow start isn’t out of the question when the Broncos finally take the field again on Saturday, but the fresh bodies and extra preparation should give Boise State a slight advantage.

2. Will the real Wyoming team please stand up?

The Wyoming Cowboys have had a rollercoaster of a football season so far. They have traded losses and wins each week. The current pattern is loss, win, loss, win, loss…if this were an SAT question then the most likely correct answer would be a Wyoming win on Saturday. While Wyoming enters the last game of the regular season as underdogs, a win isn’t out of the question.

As a testament to the weird season Wyoming has had, this will be just the second home game for the Cowboys. Wyoming’s best game of the year came in that sole contest at War Memorial Stadium. They beat Hawaii 31-7 in what was their most complete performance of 2020.

What can the Broncos expect from an inconsistent Wyoming team? If the trends hold, they can expect a heavy dose of the run, a flat-out bad passing attack, and a steady and stout defense overall.

The Cowboys have the 46th ranked offense, but they get there in a polarizing way. Wyoming has the 9th best rushing offense and the 111th ranked passing offense. Through the air they average just 171 yards per game and have just one passing touchdown on the season.

On defense, the Cowboys are much more balanced. They are 35th in the country against the pass and 29th against the run. They have the 23rd ranked overall defense and have been consistent in getting pressure on the opposing quarterback.

3. How does Boise State make their fourth consecutive appearance in the Mountain West Conference Championship game?

2020 marks the eighth time that the Mountain West Conference has crowned its champion with a championship game. Boise State is in position to make their fifth appearance in the title game in the last seven years. This would also be their fourth straight year competing for the championship.

Boise State can make a return appearance in the championship game in one of two ways:

  1. If they win on Saturday, they are in
  2. If they lose on Saturday AND San Jose wins on Friday, they are in

If the Broncos make the championship game, it will almost certainly be at Albertsons Stadium. San Jose State can remain unbeaten and would host the game under normal circumstances, but we aren’t in normal circumstances. COVID19 restrictions prevent athletic events from happing in San Jose, so the game would be shifted to Boise in that scenario.

The scenario where Boise State beats out Nevada if they beat San Jose and the Broncos lose to Wyoming is clearly unfair, and shouldn’t be spoken into existence.

Prediction:

The strangeness of the 2020 season continues. Boise State has had their last two games canceled and who knows who will be available for either team on Saturday afternoon. A couple things seems certain. Boise State will have their starting quarterback and their starting running back will finally be back in action.

For Wyoming, Xazavian Valladay likely won’t be 100% healthy. That adds up to a Bronco victory in what is sure to be a tough and bruising battle in Laramie. Boise State 31 Wyoming 17