#23 Boise State vs. Fresno State recap: Bulldogs Get Past Broncos, 28-17
The rematch is already on for next week, but the Broncos looked shaky in its undercard bout with the Bulldogs.
Can the Broncos rebound in time for next week’s Mountain West championship bout?
In the battle of The Milk Can, the Fresno State Bulldogs made enough big plays to hold off the #23 Boise State Broncos and protect their home field with a 28-17 victory. The win moved Fresno State to 9-3 for the year, a stunning turnaround by head coach Jeff Tedford and the Bulldogs, who finished 1-11 in 2016. The Broncos also fell to 9-3 after this loss.
In an unusual twist, both teams will meet again next week in the Mountain West Conference championship game. Fresno State will hold onto the Milk Can trophy until next season, regardless of the outcome next week, since the title game will not be counted (as it was not in 2014).
After opening the game by trading touchdowns on drives of more than 70 yards, Fresno State took a lead into halftime and it was the Bulldog offense that made plays all through the second half to secure the victory. In a quarterback duel, Bulldogs quarterback Marcus McMaryion (23 for 36, 332 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs) outdueled Bronco Brett Rypien (22 for 31, 278 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs) in this one.
Both offenses came out ready to play. McMaryion led the Bulldogs down the field on an 11-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 5-yard pass to KeeSean Johnson.
Rypien and the Broncos were able to counter with a 75-yard drive of their own, and backup QB Montel Cozart finished it with a 4-yard pass to A.J. Richardson.
Fresno State was not able to muster much on their next three drives with two three-and-outs and only 33 total yards. Boise State was able to move the ball during this time but had nothing to show for it as their drives ended with a missed 38-yard field goal from Haden Hoggarth, a turnover on downs deep in Fresno territory, and a punt after getting past midfield. These lost opportunities would come back to haunt the Broncos.
With just under five minutes left in the first half, McMaryion was able to drive Fresno State deep into Bronco territory and set up a 22-yard field goal by Jimmy Camacho to take the lead. Fresno State 10, Boise State 7
Fresno State’s defense carried momentum into the second half and forced the Broncos to punt twice before McMaryion led the Bulldogs inside the ten yard line with four straight passes for 64 yards. Running back Jordan Mims then rushed for a score from two yards out. After a botched extra point attempt, Fresno State had a 16-7 lead.
Boise State’s offense would also show signs of life and both teams would trade field goals, bringing the score to 19-10. Rypien and running back Alexander Mattison would then lead the Broncos on a touchdown drive to close the gap to 19-17.
That’s as close as Boise State would get, though. The first play after the ensuing kickoff was an 81-yard touchdown strike from McMaryion to Johnson.
Both teams would exchange punts and Fresno State’s Malik Forrester would sack Rypien in the end zone with just over a minute left to end this one. Fresno State 28, Boise State 17
While the Mountain West Conference has not officially announced where the game will be played at the time this article was written, it is assumed that it will be played at Albertsons Stadium in Boise since the computer rankings favored the Broncos ahead of Saturday’s game. Both teams also met in Boise for the 2014 Mountain West Championship Game, where the Broncos captured the conference title and were awarded a bid to the Fiesta Bowl.
This year, the winner of the conference championship game, which takes place next Saturday at 4:45 PM, will likely head to the Las Vegas Bowl to face a Pac-12 opponent.