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MWC Game Preview: Boise State vs. Hawaii

The Boise State Broncos (7-2, 4-1) will be traveling out into the Pacific to take on the Hawaii Warriors (1-7, 0-5) in what could be the defining game of the season for either team. Both are coming off losses last Saturday: Boise State fell to San Diego State at home, 21-19, and Hawaii was crushed by Fresno State, 42-10.

Hawaii head coach Norm Chow talks to QB Sean Schroeder.
Hawaii head coach Norm Chow talks to QB Sean Schroeder.

WEEK 11: Boise State Broncos vs. Hawaii Warriors

WHEN: Saturday, November 10, 4:00 PM MT, 2:00 PM Hawaii.

WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI (50,000)

CONFERENCES: Mountain West Conference

WEB SITES: Boise State official | Hawaii official

2012 SEASON: Boise State, 7-2, 4-1 MWC | Hawaii, 1-7, 0-5 MWC

COACHES: Hawaii: Norm Chow 1-7 (1st year),| Boise State: Chris Petersen 79-8 at BSU (7th year).

TV: NBC Sports Network.

RADIO: Boise: KBOI 670 AM, KKGL 96.9 FM. Honolulu: ESPN 1420 AM (also KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, and KTOH on Kaua'i).

SERIES RECORD: 13th meeting. Boise State leads series 9-3.

LAST MEETING: November 6, 2010, in Boise, ID, BSU 42, Hawaii 7.

Boise State would like nothing better than to keep their hopes alive for at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title and a trip to a good bowl game. And the Hawaii Warriors would like nothing better than to ruin those hopes and defeat the once vaunted Boise State Broncos in front of the Honolulu crowd. For their part, that is the best the Broncos can look forward to now that their chances of breaking the BCS barrier have once again been stymied by poor on-field performance. And the Warriors are seeking redemption after a season spent rebuilding with head coach Norm Chow’s new pro-style offense.

But that offense has to get by the Boise State defense, a defense that despite two losses still ranks as 8th best in nation. Last week, the Broncos allowed San Diego State to put up 269 total yards, but Hawaii is ranked 107th in total offense nationally and is expected to struggle. Warrior QB Sean Schroeder, 6-3, 200 lbs, has passed for 1,446 yards, but the problem is, he is not getting any better as the season progresses. In his past two outings against Colorado State and Fresno State he is 35 of 76 in tossing the ball and has 1 TD vs 4 INT’s to show for it. That is not a recipe for success against a stubborn Boise State defense.

But that is not to say Hawaii does not have some very potent weapons to put on the field. Freshman RB Will Gregory, 6-1, 190 lbs, for instance, has the capacity to pick up the hard, first down yardage if the Warrior O-line can make a hole for him to squeeze through. You can bet that Chow has poured over the Broncos game tapes and found a seam or two he can exploit.

Boise State’s offense is also looking for a better effort this week. QB Joe Southwick, 6-1, 187 lbs., has struggled all season with inconsistency after taking over the starting position for the Broncos. He has shown a little improvement but he is hampered by a young, porous O-line. Last week Southwick was 20 of 31 for 164 yards in passing, but the team as a whole had a lackluster offensive effort and appeared mired once again by poor play calling from the sidelines.

Still, the Broncos have a few playmakers who can lead the Broncos to victory. WR Matt Miller, 6-3, 215 lbs, and WR Kirby Moore, 6-3, 203 lbs, are two of those who are consistently on the end of Southwick’s passes. But Hawaii has one of best cornerbacks in the league to counteract that: Mike Edwards, 5-10, 180 lbs, so look for a ground game from the Broncos. That game will be anchored by RB DJ Harper, 5-9, 205 lbs, and RB Jay Ajayi, 6-0, 222 lbs, who will be carrying the Broncos downfield.

The question from week to week has been if the Broncos’ Special Teams will show up to play. Last week they gave up the opening kickoff to San Diego State and then allowed a blocked put in the 3rd quarter to give the Aztecs 14 of their 21 points and the win. This week, the Broncos face off against a special team ranked 18th in the nation in kickoff returns and 37th in punt returns. The Broncos will need to bring their A-game out to the Islands Saturday.

Can Hawaii hold the Broncos this week and hand the Broncos yet another loss? Not likely. The Warriors have given up huge numbers on defense this season by an average of 42.6 points per game and the spread has Boise State by 29. Of course, that might mean very little considering that the Broncos were 16 point favorites last week but went down in defeat instead.

And a replay of that game is just what Norm Chow is counting on.