BOISE STATE VS FRESNO STATE
Location: Boise, Idaho (Albertsons Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 8th at 7:45 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Television: Fox Sports 1 (FS1)
Streaming: Fox Sports app
Radio: Bronco Radio Network and KBOI/KTIK
Head-to-Head: Boise State leads the all-time series 16-7, but Fresno State has been pesky the last five matchups. The Bulldogs have won twice in that span, including their last visit to The Blue in 2018 when they won the Mountain West Championship 19-16 in overtime. Last year, Boise State throttled the then ranked Bulldogs in Fresno, 40-14.
- What will the offense do for an encore after a brilliant second-half performance against San Diego State?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That’s the mentality offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter utilized coming out of halftime last week. After being held scoreless in the first half on The Blue for the first time since 2012, Boise State simplified what they wanted to do and were able to perform much more efficiently, rattling off 35 unanswered points. In his presser on Monday, Koetter mentioned how they only used five plays throughout the second half, but were able to mix up looks that allowed holes to remain open. Despite this working against what is traditionally a respected Aztec defense, the Broncos will have to incorporate more of the playbook via Taylen Green’s arm. Head coach Andy Avalos did make sure to note that backup QB Sam Vidlak is still in the fold and that he will needed to let the Broncos play to their fullest potential.
The three-headed rushing attack that is Taylen Green, George Holani, and Ashton Jeanty looks to be the primary way of moving the ball going forward. The read option allowed the offensive line to create larger lanes for one of those three to run through and the decision-making of Green built confidence into the offense. Other than a deflected pass that turned into an interception in the first quarter, Green did what was asked of him. Make smart decisions and use your athletic ability to keep the defense honest. A few play action calls would be the next logical step in expanding the offense’s options and giving the wide receivers a chance to make an impact after being ignored last week would be the next piece to the puzzle.
2. Can the defense take advantage of Jake Haener’s absence?
Everyone in the Mountain West knows how special a quarterback Haener is when healthy. It’s unfortunate to see him still out for a marquee rivalry game such as this one. With that being said, the quarterbacks behind Haener appear to be a bit green. Logan Fife, a 6-foot sophomore, took the reins last week in what was suppose to be a tune-up game against the UConn Huskies.
Instead, the Bulldogs gave UConn their first win over an FBS opponent since prior to the pandemic beginning. Fife passed for less than 200 yards and threw two interceptions as the offense could not get anything going on the east coast.
Boise State’s defense looked fantastic in all sixty minutes of last week’s win. In fact, the Broncos didn’t allow a single offensive touchdown the entire game. Granted, the Aztecs don’t much of an offensive identity and their QB room began to wear thin as the game continued, but protecting the endzone is impressive no matter who you play. The Broncos only allowed 114 total yards and held San Diego State to 1/14 on third down attempts. Considering what happened against UConn, Boise State should be able to have another dominate performance on the defensive side of the ball.
3. Can Boise State put together a whole game where all three phases play well?
It was fun to see the Broncos of yester-year show up in the second half last week, but the first half had a lot to be desired. In games where the defense has shown up, the offense has been nowhere to be found. When both the offense and defense are doing well, special teams seems to have an off night. All the pieces are there and the current staff has the knowledge to know what steps need to be taken.
I believe it is a matter of not if, but when.
There will be opportunities down the road in 2022 where Boise State will be able to flex their muscle and test out some new ideas. However, we live in an immediate gratification society that wants to have things done and done quickly. For Bronco fans, having a game where the pieces fall in line and display a unified image of a team that has worked their tail off to this point would be cathartic.
How about Saturday night in the Treasure Valley?
This game involves two teams moving in opposite directions.
Fresno State has been dealt a tough hand in what many expected to be a high-caliber season.
Boise State has made the tough decisions needed to move this team forward and look toward the future.
This game has lost a bit of its preseason hype, but it is still a rivalry game that both fanbases look forward to immensely. I see the Broncos dominating the ground once again and starting out of the gates fast. It will take multiple turnovers for the Bulldogs to stay in the game and an improved performance out of Fife or a new man to go under center.
Boise State reported Thursday that the Battle of the Milk Can is already sold out. The environment last week was raucous and loud as the crowd helped cause seven false starts.
Expect the same Saturday night.
The spread is currently set at Boise State -7.5 after starting out at nine to start the week. I foresee the Broncos not only winning outright, but covering the spread as well.
Boise State 38 - Fresno State 10