BOISE STATE AT OREGON STATE
Location: Corvallis, Oregon (Reser Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 3rd at 8:30 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Streaming: ESPN app.
Radio: Bronco Radio Network and KBOI/KTIK
Head-to-Head: Oregon State leads the series 5-4, but the Broncos have won three of the last four matchups. All-time, Boise State is 1-3 when they have played in Corvallis with their only win coming in 2016.
- Has offensive coordinator Tim Plough addressed the issues that maligned the offense in 2021?
Last year was a setback for the offense, fueled by injuries along the offensive line and in the backfield. Coming from UC-Davis, a Big Sky institution, Tim Plough needed to get his feet wet and become immersed in high-level football within the Mountain West. Remarks from his inaugural season set expectations high in 2021, but the Broncos weren’t able to live up to it. Averaging less than 30 points per game hasn’t happened since 1998, the Broncos’ third year playing at the FBS level. There were other factors that led to a diminished return statistically when Boise State had possession.
The player that had the most influence in 2021 was running back George Holani. Due to him being on a pitch count by virtue of lingering injuries, Plough couldn’t utilize Holani as the traditional “Bell Cow” running back that the Broncos prioritized in previous years with the likes of Alexander Mattison, Jeremy McNichols, Jay Ajayi and Doug Martin. Holani is a special player when healthy and limiting his mileage was a key focus during fall camp. Behind Holani, true freshman Ashton Jeanty is an unknown, but he is listed at number two on the depth chart for a reason. A one-two punch would be Plough’s dream as they are led by senior quarterback Hank Bachmeier.
The pieces are there for this puzzle to be solved, but the biggest hiccup last year was adjusting at halftime and second-half scoring. Two times, the Broncos went scoreless in the final thirty minutes and on multiple occasions, they couldn’t score than seven points. This offense can’t produce like a horse in the Kentucky Derby who immediately burst out of the gates, but then fades toward the finish line. That is what leads to one-score losses akin to what happened last year against Air Force, Oklahoma State and UCF.
2. Will the Boise State defensive line stymy the Oregon State rushing attack?
The interior of the first line of defense looks to be one of the best the Broncos have had in years. Led by Scott Matlock, the front line will be reinforced with transfers George Tarlas, Cortez Hogans and Deven Wright. Isaiah Bagnah returns to EDGE after spending a few weeks at the WILL linebacker spot during fall camp. The Beavers have a collection of running backs that all offer something different in their styles of play.
The two players projected to get the most carries for Oregon State are Deshaun Frank and Trey Lowe. Losing 1,300 yard rusher B.J. Baylor isn’t something to overlook, but those around the OSU program believe that the offensive line can allow the backs to utilize their niche abilities throughout the course of 60 minutes.
Starting quarterback Chance Nolan returns as fifth-year junior (yes, that’s correct) after passing for 2,677 yards and 19 touchdowns. He can use his legs to extend plays as well, running for 286 yards and finding the endzone three times.
Boise State is laden with veteran starters from the trenches to the secondary, but the Beavers are not far behind offensively as they return a starter at the majority of positions.
3. Can the Bronco offensive line create time for the offense to establish a rhythm?
I feel as if I am in the Twilight Zone whenever I think about this subject. For the last handful of years, Hank Bachmeier has been hit and hit hard. Amazingly, he has powered through those moments and will be the starting quarterback for a fourth consecutive year, joining an exclusive group of Boise State quarterbacks in Kellen Moore, Brett Rypien and Ryan Dinwiddie.
On paper, the offensive line looks to have a bounce-back year with returners in John Ojukwu, Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez and a new face in Washington State transfer Cade Beresford. Having all five lineman healthy throughout the entirety of a season is unrealistic and the youth listed on the depth chart should be cause for optimism. Everyone wants to see what this offense is capable of at full strength, and hopefully, we have a chance to see that in multiple games this season. The Beavers’ defensive line is loaded with upperclassmen and the trenches is where this game will be won or lost.
There is a reason that the line on this game has remained around a field goal in favor of the Beavers. Home-field advantage aside, this does feel like a toss-up. The Beavers have momentum with head coach Jonathan Smith leading the way and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren returning. They will have to break in a new defensive coordinator in Trent Bray, previously the inside linebacker’s coach.
The Broncos have continuity in all three coaching facets with HC Andy Avalos, OC Tim Plough and DC Spencer Danielson. Other than the loss of WR Khalil Shakir to the NFL, most of the offense returns starter-level production. The defense will be the anchor for this team as the key spot that was uncertain during fall camp was the linebacker group. D.J. Schramm has improved and taken the job while Ezekiel Noa retained his starting spot.
This game is a classic example of “PAC-12 after dark” and both programs have so much riding on the outcome.
I see the Beavers squeaking out a tight win in Corvallis. The Bronco offense will be better, but to expect them to come out against an ever-improving Oregon State program and steal one at Reser Stadium is a bit lofty for me.
Oregon State 28 - Boise State 24