Here’s a sentence you never expected to read nine weeks into the college football season: Wyoming/Boise State is the most important matchup in the Mountain West.
Both teams are 3-0 in conference play and the winner will most likely play San Diego State in December, and with Wyoming suddenly becoming the team Coach Bohl envisioned when taking the helm in 2013, it will most likely be the most entertaining game in the Mountain West this week.
Boise State has never lost to Wyoming, holding a 10-0 advantage, and wins by an average score of 39-12. Gone are the days of Kellen Moore and Grant Hedrick, where the Broncos scored an average of nearly 49 points against the Cowboys, so what can they do to beat the Broncos?
CAPITALIZE ON TURNOVERS
In last week’s game against BYU, Boise State coughed up the ball five (!) times, with Brett Rypien’s two interceptions getting returned for touchdowns. Wyoming’s defense has forced 15 turnovers so far and has scored a defensive touchdown in three of the last four games. Wyoming has to take what Boise State gives them.
STOP BOISE’S OFFENSE
You know the old myth of the Hydra? Boise’s offense is a lot like that. Boise averages 161.8 rushing yards per game. Four different receivers have more than 15 catches, something only two other Mountain West teams boast (Utah State and Nevada, with five each).
Those four receivers average 273 yards per game combined. Thomas Sperbeck has hauled in 47 passes for 810 yards and seven touchdowns. Oh yeah, and another one of those four is their running back, Jeremy McNichols.
There’s no reasonable way Wyoming can stop Boise State in its tracks, but the defense has to give the offense some breathing room if they want this to be a close game.
UNLEASH THE OFFENSE
Brian Hill is easily one of the top three backs in the conference, sitting on the mountaintop with McNichols and SDSU’s Donnel Pumphrey. In UW wins, Hill averages 175 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry. In losses, he averages 66 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. Hill clearly has a big test this week, but Boise has allowed 141 yards per game on the ground. If Hill can capitalize on defensive mistakes, he has the potential to blow this game open.
Tanner Gentry is one of the better wide receivers in the conference. He hasn’t done as well at home as he has on the road so far, but he’s coming off a monster game against Nevada in which he caught four passes for 109 yards. Josh Allen has looked far more comfortable in throwing to Gentry, too. If he and Allen can keep connecting the way they have all season, Wyoming should put up a fight.
This is the first Wyoming team to start 3-0 in the Mountain West in 17 years. This is the first Wyoming team to win at least five games since 2013 and could be the first team since 2011 to be bowl eligible. Despite just how good this team is and could be, Boise State is still Boise State. 31-28 Broncos.