Date/Time: Saturday, September 25, 10:00 am MST
Location: Logan, Utah (Maverick Stadium)
Point Spread: Boise State -9.5 – O/U 70
Head-to-Head: Boise State leads the all-time series with 20 wins and five losses. The Broncos have won the last five matchups and 17 of the last 18 contests. Four of the five Utah State wins have come in Logan.
Boise State is back in action on Saturday morning against the 3 – 0 Utah State Aggies. The Broncos are coming off a heartbreaking loss where everything went wrong at the end of the first half and continued throughout the rest of the game. Boise State football games have followed a bit of a theme in 2021. The Broncos start fast, fade down the stretch, and give up a ton of rushing yards along the way.
Boise State will look to reverse the early season trends as they enter Mountain West play early Saturday morning. Everyone knows the stats. Boise State is among the worst in the country at running the ball and stopping the run. Third quarters are a disaster for the Broncos, and missed tackles are piling up at an alarming pace. It looks rough, but coaches and players insist that they are close. Let’s find out what burning questions need to be answered if the Broncos want to turn the season around.
THREE BURNING QUESTION
Will the Boise State running game “burst” this week?
Tim Plough and the Boise State offense are still a work in progress. The opening script has been fantastic, and Boise State can throw on anybody if they have a threat of a run game. However, the players and staff are still perfecting the offense which appears to be limiting play calling as games progress. Plough believes the run game will come.
In his press conference for the Utah State game Plough said, “I do think it’s gonna come. I’m a believer in it, hopefully everyone’s not jumping off the ship. I do believe that the running game is gonna come, we have talent…I believe in the guys…I believe in the staff. We just got to stick with it, it’s gonna come. I know it’s gonna burst.”
As Boise State begins their conference schedule, it is now or never for the Bronco run game. Utah State is giving up more yards per game on the ground than Boise State (217 ypg vs 213 ypg), but there is an asterisk because Utah State played Air Force last weekend. Even still, the Broncos should be able to run against Utah State. If they can’t, it may not happen against a formidable opponent in 2021.
Can the Broncos tighten up their fundamentals and tackling?
Boise State is giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground through three games. Meanwhile Utah State averages over 200 rushing yards per game. It’s the classic unstoppable force against the easily movable object. On paper, it doesn’t look good for Boise State. However, Boise State coaches are confident that they can fix it.
Head coach Andy Avalos is stressing consistency and fundamentals, and defensive line coach Frank Maile is preaching getting eyes out of the backfield and letting blocking keys lead to stops. Either way, the Broncos must get it fixed if they want to open the season 1 – 0 in conference play.
Beyond the troubles with stopping the run, the Bronco defense have been inconsistent tacklers early in the season. Against Utah State that could be a problem. The Aggies stretch the field to the extreme and force defenses to make tackles on an island. Boise State must play their most fundamentally sound game of the season to avoid a track meet in Logan. Players and coaches believe they’ll do just that. If they do, the 2021 season will start to turn around.
How heavy is the head that wears the crown?
The Broncos have won 14 straight regular season games against the Mountain West and haven’t lost to a divisional foe since losing to Air Force in 2016. Boise State has been a thorn in the side of the Mountain division, and Utah State and the rest of the division must smell blood in the water.
The Mountain division is ready to battle Boise State this year. Utah State and Wyoming are undefeated, and Air Force runs the ball as good as anyone in the country. For now, Boise State is King of the Mountain, but the rest of the division is ready to capitalize if the Broncos don’t fix their early season struggles. If Boise State runs the table in the Mountain division this year, they may never lose another divisional game again.
To say Boise State has been up-and-down in games this season would be an understatement. One minute they look unstoppable on offense. They put up points in bunches and #HalfAHundred looks like a lock. The next minute the Broncos look like they’d have trouble scoring against air. Defense is the same story. Bronco defenders trade the excitement of returning turnovers for touchdowns with grasping at air as a power running back chugs his way into the endzone.
The Broncos will get back on track this week. A recognizable opponent and a return to a Mountain division opponent is just the medicine that Boise State needs to cure their ills. Boise State will put together a full game on offense and limit the Aggie ground game to a respectable level. Boise State 45 Utah State 27.