Boise State wrapped up the regular season in typical 2020 fashion. The Broncos were without 10 players due to COVID19 protocols with just two quarterbacks making the trip to Laramie. In an added twist, Boise State had to prepare for and play Wyoming without several coaches and staff. To top it off, the game was played in a blizzard with a real-feel temperature that hovered around 0 degrees and wind speeds that increased throughout the game.
Ultimately, none of that mattered. The Broncos held onto a 10 – 3 halftime lead and outlasted the Cowboys 17 – 9. Boise State overcame rust from canceled games, attrition due to COVID and injuries, and extreme weather to finish the regular season undefeated in the Mountain West Conference. Next, the Broncos head to Las Vegas to battle the undefeated San Jose State Spartans for the conference title.
Boise State started with the ball and promptly threw an interception. Wyoming capitalized on the short field making a 42-yard field goal to take an early lead. Boise State responded with a 12-play drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown pass to George Holani.
Great Play-calling leads to a George Holani Touchdown! pic.twitter.com/rvAlflhnw5— Boise Edits (@boise_edits) December 12, 2020
Wyoming would punt on all five of their remaining drives of the first half. Boise State couldn’t get much going in the increasingly bad weather, but they added a field goal to take a 10 – 3 lead into halftime.
The third quarter began like the first half ended; a lot of punting. Boise State turned the ball over after forcing the Cowboys to punt on their second consecutive drive of the second half and kicked another field goal on a short field. As they did earlier in the game when Wyoming scored, Boise State responded with a touchdown on the ensuing possession. The 11-play, 75-yard drive ended on a two-yard touchdown run from Andrew Van Buren.
Wyoming added a field goal with under 5 minutes remaining in the game to produce a final score of 17 – 9.
Boise State had just under 300 yards for the game with 181 yards on 29 passes and 111 rushing yards on 41 attempts. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier fought the elements and although it wasn’t his finest performance, he was solid considering the wind and freezing cold temperatures. Sophomore running back George Holani made his return to the field but appeared to reinjure his knee during the game.
The shining star of the offense was Khalil Shakir. The junior wide receiver had eight receptions for 105 and added 38 yards on five rushes. Ultimately, the blizzard-like conditions were too much of a factor to fairly grade Boise State’s offense. We’ll call it incomplete and look forward to seeing what they can do against San Jose State in a much warmer environment.
The fairest course of action would be to call the defensive score incomplete. Wyoming had to brave the same elements as the Broncos. However, the Boise State defense played too well to receive anything other than an A. The Broncos tackled better and more ferociously than any game this season, and the numbers were impressive. The Broncos gave up just 146 yards of offense. They surrendered 64 passing yards and 82 rushing yards. Additionally, Boise State held the Cowboys to 2 – 17 on third down and amassed five sacks. The game sealing interception was meaningless, but for a defense that has been dreadful at creating turnovers, even a pointless turnover adds to the A grade.
Special Teams: C
Boise State’s special teams’ unit has been exciting all season long. For the most part that has been a good thing, but it has been a little sloppy occasionally. On Saturday we saw a mixed bag. The Broncos blocked a punt, provided decent field position for the offense and pinned Wyoming deep into their own territory a few times, but they also lost a fumble and botched a snap on a field goal which cost the Broncos their perfect red zone conversion streak. The weather was certainly a factor in the results, but overall, it was a slightly disappointing game from the specialists.
The Broncos defend the Mountain West Championship against the undefeated San Jose State Spartans at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. The game is scheduled for a 2:15pm kickoff on Saturday December 19th on FOX.