Air Force Vs. #25 Boise State: Broncos Run Wild Over Falcons, 44-19
The seniors finally got their revenge over the Falcons, and they’ll likely have one more game on the blue turf this fall.
With the Mountain division title already in hand, the Broncos set about righting some wrongs on Saturday night.
The Boise State Broncos finally got past the Air Force Falcons in commanding fashion on senior night. The senior class and head coach Bryan Harsin prevented the Falcons from extending their three-game winning streak over the Broncos, as the home was dominant from the start of this one and earned a decisive 44-19 victory.
Fresno State had beaten Wyoming earlier in the day, which clinched the Mountain Division for Boise State (while also clinching the West Division for Fresno State, more on that later) but that did not deter the Broncos’ focus in this one. Boise State moved to 9-2 (7-0 in conference) for the season with the win. Here are the takeaways from the emphatic Bronco victory:
To say that Brett Rypien is playing well recently would be somewhat of an understatement. Rypien has really started to show us why he is the Mountain West’s two-time reigning first-team quarterback in the last few weeks and he posted a crazy stat line against the Falcons: 16-of-22 for 300 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Not surprisingly, Rypien’s improved play has coincided with improved offensive line play and Alexander Mattison turning into a monster. It should be noted that while Cedrick Wilson (5 catches, 105 yards) and Jake Roh continue to be the most dangerous weapons for Rypien, fans should be please with complementary pieces Ryan Wolpin, Montell Cozart, Alec Dhaenens, Sean Modster, CT Thomas, and A.J. Richardson, all of whom have stepped up in recent weeks. Harsin and offensive coordinator Zak Hill have developed and unleashed a dynamic and scary offense in the past few games. Next week should be a tough challenge for the Broncos, though, as they take on a Fresno State defense that ranks 15th nationally in total yards allowed.
For the game, Boise State racked up 428 total yards of offense with no turnovers. The Broncos only picked up 90 yards on the ground but that may have simply been a result of the offense taking advantage of a weak Air Force secondary, as both Wilson and Richardson, who led with 123 yards and a touchdown, topped 100 receiving yards.
Andy Avalos and the defense have continued to impress this year. Facing the dreaded triple option, the defense held the Falcons in check on the ground, allowing a modest 181 rushing yards. The Bronco defense was playing so well against the rush that the Falcons were forced to turn to their passing attack, which had some success until the Broncos adjusted.
The Broncos defense is filled with players that should return next year, but senior Gabe Perez came up big with four tackles and a fumble recovery. The Broncos finished the game with three takeaways in another impressive performance.
Avery Williams and the special teams have continued to be solid this season and kicker Haden Hoggarth has become a dependable weapon for the Broncos. Hoggarth went 5 for 5 on extra points and 3 for 4 on field goals (his only miss was a 51-yard attempt).
It was clear that this one was personal for the coaching staff. After an emotional and physically draining overtime game versus Colorado State, the Broncos came out on fire against Air Force. The coaching staff continued to improve all facets of this team and the Broncos certainly looked worthy of their national ranking.
Bryan Harsin called a few timeouts before the half to attempt to ice the Air Force kicker and poured it on late in this one. He and Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun had a very quick handshake after the Bronco victory.
Boise State will face the Fresno State Bulldogs in central California next week to conclude the regular season. As noted, Boise State and Fresno State have clinched the Mountain Division and West Division, respectively, so these teams will meet two weeks in a row. The Mountain West Championship game host site is determined by a higher College Football Playoff ranking and then falls to computer rankings if neither team is ranked. Since Boise State is well ahead in both, it is likely that Boise State will host the championship game regardless of the outcome of next week.
If the Broncos do win next week, it will be the first time ever that Boise State has posted a perfect conference record since joining the Mountain West in 2011.
While an invitation to the New Year’s Six appears unlikely after both Central Florida (10-0) and Memphis (9-1) won over the weekend, a couple of scenarios to get Boise State there still exist. The Broncos will get the invitation if they win out and Memphis loses next week to East Carolina (3-8) but rebounds to win the American Athletic Championship game the following week. It is also possible that if South Florida (9-1) wins their next two and claims the AAC title that the Broncos get an invitation to the NY6.
Statistics from ESPN and College Football Reference