Game Day Essentials and Prediction: No. 17 Boise State at No. 24 Oklahoma State
The Broncos face the Cowboys in a big-time matchup of ranked opponents
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The biggest game in several seasons is upon us. Head Coach Bryan Harsin now has a team that is in essence fully his roster and has had 4 years to put the pieces together. Along the way, Harsin has done pretty well including winning a pair of Mountain West Championships and a New Year’s Six Bowl game. However, this year appears to have a truly special team.
After finishing 12-2 and ranked with a bowl victory over Oregon, Coach Harsin returned most of his player and coaching staff and has started the 2018 season on fire. Boise State will face their toughest challenge in several years when they have a true road game against a so-called ‘power 5’ opponent; the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The Cowboys themselves are ranked and this will certainly be a difficult road matchup. A win would catapult the Broncos toward a magical trajectory for the rest of the 2018 campaign. With a rare day game on ESPN, the eyes of the college football world will be on Boise State this Saturday.
Catch up on the rest of MWC Wire’s Boise State vs Oklahoma State Coverage
Date: September 15, 2018
Where: Stillwater, Oklahoma
When: 1:30 PM MST
Spread: -2.5 via Vegas Insider
Weather: 88 degrees,mostly sunny with mild winds and slight chance of rain via Weather.com
How to Watch: ESPN , Watch ESPN or FuboTV (Free Trial)
Oklahoma State Update
Oklahoma State moved into the rankings after week two into the 24th spot. Oklahoma had previously rolled over Southern Alabama 55-13 and FCS opponent Missouri State 58-17. Oklahoma State did finish 10-2 in 2017, good for 14th in both polls. However, the Cowboys only return 2 of their 8 Big 12 All-Conference selections. It is too early in the season to know just how good these Cowboys are just yet, but they do have a versatile and athletic players. Mike Gundy is in his 13th year as head coach of the Cowboys and will have his squad ready to play.
Players to Watch
Brett Rypien, Boise State Senior Quarterback
Rypien has been absolutely on fire to start the 2018 season. The senior 3-time all-Conference player has been a leader on and off the field. Rypien has completed 41 of his 56 passes (73.2%) for 667 yards and seven touchdowns against no interception. Rypien will not only have to continue his tremendous play on the field but have to be a leader for this team as they will face a tough team and a hostile crowd.
Alexander Mattison, Boise State Junior Running Back
Mattison has not been asked to do too much this season but has played very well. Mattison has 171 yards on 25 carries for 6.8 yard average per carry. Mattison also has two rushing touchdowns. The veteran running back may be called upon to do more this game if Rypien is struggling or if the Broncos need to secure the ball and run the clock.
Durrant Miles, Boise State Senior Defensive End
Lined up opposite to captain Jabril Frazier, Miles is overlooked at times but his presence is always felt. A hard playing dirty work player on the end, Miles has 5 tackles with 2 sacks and a forced fumble for the year. If Miles can apply pressure and force the Cowboys offensive line to attempt to play one on one with the Broncos talented defensive line; it will just be a matter of time before Miles or his one of his wingmates is harassing the Oklahoma State quarterback.
Tyler Horton, Boise State Senior Cornerback
Oklahoma State is known for their aerial attack and dynamic wide receivers. It will be up to the captain and all-Conference corner, Tyler Horton, to set a good tone and shut done one half of the field. If Horton can lock up Oklahoma State’s primary target, it will allow the defense to stick to the game plan and get pressure on Oklahoma State’s quarterback.
Avery Williams, Boise State Sophomore Cornerback and Kick Returner
Williams was hurt the first game of the year but played well last week as the corner opposite to Horton. It will be his kick returning that may be the x-factor in this matchup. William’s ability to be a game-changer on special teams can create the big play and spark the Broncos may need against this tough opponent.
Boise State Offensive Line
The offensive line has played great this season, allowing Rypien time to execute the offense and stay in the pocket and find his receivers. Ezra Cleveland and John Molchon anchor a solid unit that will be tested against Big 12 athletes.
Taylor Cornelius, Oklahoma State Senior Quarterback
Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy are known for this prolific offensive attack. Last year’s squad was led by future third-round pick, Mason Rudolph. Taking over for Rudolph is senior Tyler Cornelius. Cornelius did not play much the last few seasons behind Rudolph but has played well to start. With 49 completions on 74 attempts (66.2%) for 723 yards and 6 versus 3 interceptions, Cornelius has moved the ball well. He will be going against the best defense he has played this year and the Broncos defensive line will try to make the senior quarterback uncomfortable.
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State Junior Running Back
While Mike Gundy is known for the dynamic passing offense, Justice Hill has ran the ball well for the Cowboys. Hill, the lone returning Big 12 all-Conference offense selection from 2017, Hill has put up solid stats so far in 2018. Averaging 8.1 yards per carry, Hill has the ability to move the ball and grind down opposing defenses.
Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner, Oklahoma State Sophomore Wide Receivers
The Cowboys lose all-Conference wide receiver threats James Washington and Marcell Ateman, they are replaced by 2 up and coming talented wide receivers in Stoner and Wallace. Wallace has been phenomenal with 214 yards with 2 touchdowns while Stoner has chipped. The Broncos will need to limit the big play ability of this pair.
Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State Junior Defensive End
The Cowboy’s do lose a pair of all-Conference defensive players to graduation they bring back Brailford to lead their defense. Brailford has 2 sacks for the season and will look to cause the Broncos and Brett Rypien troubles in the trenches.
Octavius Evans (Sophomore Wide Receiver) and David Moa (Senior Defensive Tackle) have been listed on the depth chart amongst the first string and have dressed for the last two games but have not yet taken the field. The rumors have been that they were merely banged up and Head Coach Bryan Harsin has been cautious and been waiting for this big game to let them play.
Harsin said there is a good chance they play. Avery Williams played last week after hurting his forearm in the opener against Troy but played last week and recorded an interception.
Williams, however, did not handle his usual punt and kick returning assignments, turning those over primarily to true freshman wide receiver, Khalil Shakur. Starting middle linebacker Tyson Maeva did not take the field last week. No reason was given but Harsin said that Maeva should also be back this week. Several other players on the second and third string that were held out for various injuries, illness, and surgical recoveries are being cleared to play. The Broncos will be close to full strength for this contest.
Raja: Boise State wins this one folks. While many are looking at this game as a potential glorious offensive shootout, that greatly overlooks both defenses. While the Cowboys do have some athletes and are aggressive, it is the Broncos defense that is truly exceptional. With a healthy David Moa in the middle of the defensive line, the Broncos should be able to get pressure on the inexperienced Taylor Cornelius.
While the home field may produce a couple of big plays in Oklahoma State’s favor, the Broncos are too deep and talented this season. Mike Gundy and his Cowboys are a solid squad, Bryan Harsin will earn a signature victory in Stillwater this weekend.
Boise State 35, Oklahoma State 27
All statistics from ESPN and College Football Reference