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Boise State Travels to Hawaii for a Must Win Game

Boise State should have no problem beating Hawaii and keeping playoff chances alive

NCAA Football: Boise State at New Mexico Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State heads down to Hawaii this weekend to tangle with the Rainbow Warriors. This is a must-win game for the Broncos as they try to salvage hopes of making the College Football Playoff. They have dominated the series with Hawaii, winning the last five meeting between the two schools with an average margin of victory of 38 points. Hawaii simply cannot slow the Broncos down. Boise State has scored an average of 45.4 points per game during their five-game winning streak over Hawaii.

Boise State should have no problem scoring at will against Hawaii in this game. The Rainbow Warriors are allowing opponents to score an average of 38.2 points per game this season. Just last week against San Diego State, Hawaii suffered their second-worst drubbing of the heart in a 55-0 blowout loss. Even though the Broncos should win easily, they will need to focus and avoid overlooking their opponent. Here are the keys to victory for Boise State to focus on against Hawaii.

Keep Hawaii from Scoring

Hawaii may not be the best team in the world, but they are definitely capable of scoring in bunches. They put up 31 points on Cal, 34 points on Air Force and 38 points on UNLV. The fact that the Rainbow Warriors can score so effectively is something to worry about for Broncos fans. Boise State’s defense has been a sieve at times this season. They have given up 30 points or more in their last two games.

While they should be able to outscore Hawaii in a shootout, it would be much simpler for the Boise State defense to step up and play better this week. San Diego State just limited Hawaii to 215 yards in the shutout last week. Look for senior linebacker Ben Weaver to come up big in this one. He has 87 tackles this year to lead the team, including 31 tackles over the last two games alone.

Feed Jeremy McNichols the Rock

Boise State running back McNichols is the real deal. The junior is in the Heisman mix with his performance this year. His 16 touchdowns are third in the nation, three less than Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. McNichols is fourth in the nation with his 1,216 rushing yards and gets a highly favorable matchup in Hawaii, who ranks 86th in the nation in rushing defense, giving up an average of 190.17 yards rushing per game. Boise State needs to pound McNichols down the Rainbow Warriors throats until they are stacking the box with eight or more defenders. Once that happens, the passing game should open up. McNichols is a Long Beach native, so don’t expect the heat to get to him.

Take Advantage of Hawaii Loading the Box

As the game goes along and Hawaii commits eight and more defenders to stopping the run, the play-action passing game should become unstoppable. The linebackers and safeties will be up too tight to the line of scrimmage, opening up huge holes in the secondary for Boise State to take advantage of. Brett Rypien is just the sort of heady quarterback who can take advantage of this, and he should be able to add to his 18 touchdown passes this year with a smart game plan.

This game will air on CBS Sports Network and the Bronco Radio Network and kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.