Boise State vs. Troy: Game Prediction Preview
The Trojans and Broncos square off in Troy, Alabama, to start the season.
Date: Saturday, September 1st
Location: Veterans Memorial Stadium Troy, Alabama
Kick Time: 4:00 PM MT
Weather at Kick: 85°F 83% Humidity 5 mph Winds 38% Chance of Precipitation
Spread: BSU -10.5
A clear message was sent by both coaching staff’s in their pregame press conferences this week: both teams need to and should play better this time around. Other than a few momentum-shifting highlights, last year’s matchup between the Broncos and the Trojans left much to be desired. Two all-time greats for the Trojans were largely silenced, while Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien was benched in favor of the more mobile option in Montell Cozart.
Most expect this game to again be a defensive slugfest, with relatively low scoring. In the 2017 matchup the Broncos held the Trojans to only 215 yards of total offense, while the Trojans held the Broncos to 357 yards.
Both teams turned the ball over multiple times including an interception returned for a touchdown, thrown by Brett Rypien. Boise State returns 8 of 11 starters on offense including 4-year starting quarterback Brett Rypien and 1,000 yard running back Alexander Mattison. Troy returns 6 of 11 starters on offense, but loses all-time Trojan greats in quarterback Brandon Silvers and running back Jordan Chunn.
These defenses are projected to be stout once again but do have a few question marks. For the Broncos, the question is who is going to replace first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch at linebacker. For the Trojans, it will be how can they replace over half of their starting defense.
How Troy Wins
Due to their inexperience on offense, Troy’s best hope of winning lies with their defense. Much like the 2017 matchup, the Trojans want to keep the score low. If their defense can again put pressure on Brett Rypien and largely limited Boise State’s ground game, their probability to win goes up tremendously. Can the Trojan defense buy time for the offense to get their feet under them and even make up for a few inevitable mistakes?
How Boise State Wins
The key to victory for the Broncos lies with the offensive line. Boise State’s offensive lineman readily admitted that they were not on the same page for last year’s matchup, but they showed great promise and chemistry down the stretch in 2017. If they can keep Brett Rypien clean, he has demonstrated his ability to pick apart even the most talented of defenses.
If the offensive line is clicking for the Broncos, it also means their bread and butter run game is also effective. Getting Mattison space to run the ball allows for great play-action looks in the passing game. Will the offensive line pick up where they left off last year or will they look more like the group that opened the season in 2017?
How It Will Play Out
This game is no doubt a great Group of 5 matchup between two well-coached and talented teams. The game last year was very competitive at Bronco Stadium last year, and one might think it would be even more so at Veterans Memorial Stadium this year.
A big deal is being made about the heat and humidity that will be present throughout the game, but that may not turn out to be as major of a factor. Due to Bryan Harsin’s experience coaching at Arkansas State, he has a history of preparing Boise State teams to take on the heat and humidity in the South, early in the season (the Broncos took on Louisiana-Lafayette September 3, 2016 when temperatures were in the low 90s with 75-80% humidity).
I do believe Troy is a talented team and the Bronco’s will certainly face challenges on Saturday, but I see Boise State coming out on top in this one. I believe the offensive line will protect Rypien and allow Mattison to surpass the 100 yard mark on the ground.
Look for the Broncos’ experienced defense to cause problems for Troy’s first-year starting quarterback Kaleb Barker and limiting running back B.J. Smith on the ground.
ESPN’s Football Power Index proves to be right on this one (80% in favor of BSU): Boise State 34 Troy 13.