BOISE STATE AT FRESNO STATE
Location: Fresno, California (Valley Children’s Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4th at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Television: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: CBS Sports App
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KBOI 93.1 FM (Bronco Radio Network)
Head-to-Head: Boise State leads the all-time series 17-8. However, the Bulldogs retain bragging rights after beating the Broncos in the Mountain West Championship game a year ago on The Blue.
Tale of the Tape
- Is Maddux Madsen the unofficial QB1?
I don’t know and I don’t think it really matters.
This staff trust Madsen to throw and run with the ball.
They trust Taylen Green to...run the ball.
- As soon as the Broncos get George Holani back, superstar Ashton Jeanty goes down with an injury. Granted, it appears that it isn’t a serious injury. If Jeanty is limited in any way against Fresno State, the offense will suffer. The presence of Jambres Dubar will help in the case that Jeanty is on a snap count.
- Eric McAlister is still racking up some great numbers, including a 160-yard performance against Wyoming. Beyond “EMAC”, there are hopes that Prince Strachan will have his workload increased considering he caught his first touchdown last week.
- The offensive line is healthy and looks to be one of the best position groups this season. They are creating lanes for the running backs and protecting both Madsen and Green. The only thing that I could nitpick is that when Madsen is in, the snaps are a bit high. I’m not saying it is easy to adjust the height of the snap when switching from a 6-6 QB to a 5-10 one, but it may bite Boise State eventually.
- For Fresno State, they are embracing the return of QB Mikey Keene, a former UCF transfer. He has been quite good this season when healthy, totaling near 2,000 passing yards and 19 passing TDs. With one loss in 2023 at the hands of Wyoming, the Bulldogs have a solid resume with two Power Five wins (Purdue and Arizona State) and are deadly when operating at 100%.
- At running back, Fresno State relies on the tandem of Malik Sherrod and Elijah Gilliam. They have combined for over 800 yards on the ground and 9 TDs.
- Out wide, head coach Jeff Tedford doesn’t rely on one primary receiver to carry the majority of the load. Receivers Erik Brooks, Jalen Moss, and Jaelen Gill have led the way, accounting for 1,431 yards and 14 TDs.
- For the first time this season, defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson and the Bronco defense looked energized and full of creativity. Various blitz packages and added pressure allowed the defense to stifle the Wyoming offense to a tune of 112 total yards with 85 through the air and 27 on the ground.
- On the defensive line, Tyler Wegis and Demitri Washington are the only two that may not suit up. Luckily, Ahmed Hassenein, Herbert Gums, Michael Callahan and Sheldon Newton are more than capable of stepping up.
- At linebacker, Andrew Simpson continues to shine while DJ Schramm and Jayden Virgin have been great as a duo. In fact, Simpson and Virgin were two of the top three tacklers against Wyoming.
- In the secondary, Seyi Oladipo was dynamite a week ago and continues to get better and better each week. Add to that the increased presence of freshman Ty Benefield and veteran transfer A’Marion McCoy and the secondary issues that have plagued this team in 2023 look to be subsiding.
However, the Fresno State passing attack will put this theory to the test.
- The Bulldog defense is one of the better units in the Mountain West. They rank inside the top 35 in rushing yards allowed per game and top 60 in passing yards allowed per game.
- Linebacker Levelle Bailey leads Fresno State in total tackles and Jacob Holmes is the clubhouse leader when it comes to total sacks.
- As for the vaunted interception category, Carlton Johnson leads Fresno State with four interceptions and no one else has more than two.
- Turnovers are the name of the game for the Bulldogs.
Currently, they are second in the nation in turnover margin (+11).
The only team ahead of them?
- Despite a missed field goal due to a poor hold last week, Jonah Dalmas is still as consistent as ever and remains a tremendous asset. Punter James Ferguson-Reynolds is seeing his reputation grow in the college football world as he is recognized what seems like every week for his efforts.
Boise State special teams is in good hands.
- Fresno State’s kicker, Dylan Lynch, is 15-20 this season and has a long of 52. Their punting game has been less special as Carson King is only averaging 42.8 yards a punt.
Why Fresno State Will Win
While Boise State’s secondary has been vastly improved over the course of Mountain West play, the Bulldog aerial attack is not to be taken lightly. If Fresno State is able to blow the top off, then it is going to be a long day for those in blue and orange.
I would also think that Ashton Jeanty is very limited in this scenario. He is such a gamebreaker and special talent, but, with Holani still getting his legs back, not having “AJ2” at 100% could spell trouble for the Broncos.
Why Boise State Will Win
Maddux Madsen is able to sling the rock around the gridiron and make the Boise State offense balanced. With Jeanty hobbled, I don’t see the Broncos being able to rely on the ground attack and win the game solely based on this strategy. Throw in a little Taylen Green with some designed runs in the redzone and this offense can have a wide variety of options at its disposal.
Defensively, they need to be able to keep everything in front of them and prevent many, if any, big plays from occurring. We saw that Spencer Danielson can implement more aggressive schemes, but it should be noted that Wyoming isn’t necessarily known for their big play ability down the field.
Fresno State can and will beat you in one-on-one scenarios if given the chance.
Spread: Boise State +2.5 (-110), Fresno State -2.5 (—110)
Total: 54.5 points (-110 for the over and the under)
Straight Up Money Line: Boise State +114, Fresno State -135
Call me a pessimist, but I see the Broncos coming back down to earth after last week’s surprisingly lopsided win. Playing in Fresno is no joke as many coaches and players have attested to the raucous environment when Boise State comes to town.
With the uncertainty regarding Ashton Jeanty and the secondary still iffy at best, I need to see the Broncos have back-to-back great performances if I am to envision them having a realistic shot at the 2023 Mountain West championship.
The Wyoming result was fun, but the Colorado State loss still sticks in my craw.