Boise State vs. Utah State: Keys For A Broncos Win
What do the Broncos need to do to be win the Mountain Division?
Game of the year
For the Boise State Broncos and the Utah State Aggies, it all comes down to Saturday’s matchup. This week’s contest pairs two teams riding solid win streaks (BSU at 7, USU at 10) and are both ranked in the College Football Poll (BSU at 23, USU at 21). Boise State fans would like to think that this year’s matchup will mirror 2017s, but I do not believe they will be so fortunate.
Utah State has shown drastic improvement since that game. While it is true that the Aggies have not played the strongest of schedules (SOS 125), their best win was a dominating win in Provo over BYU. The Broncos have faced the stronger portion of the West Division and came away nearly unscathed. Their strength of schedule is not fantastic, but it is noticeably better than the Aggies at 75. Sagarin ratings show more of the story as the Broncos and Aggies are separated by just 3 spots (BSU at 30, USU at 33).
Utah State’s offense has been extremely explosive this year averaging nearly 500 yards a game. The Broncos are not far behind at 465 yards per game. Boise State seems to be stronger through the air, while the Aggies are stronger on the ground. Utah State does average nearly two more touchdowns a game than the Broncos. Either way you look at the game, it looks like it will be a good one.
Let’s take a look on the keys to a Boise State Victory.
Key #1: Continued Offensive Line Improvement
I’ve held strong to this key for the majority of Boise State’s current win streak and this week is no different. The Broncos again looked strong last week on the ground as they extended their streak of 1,000 yard or more rusher to 10 straight years. In the games this year where the Broncos have struggled or lost, their offensive line has failed to protect Brett Rypien and did not provide holes for Alexander Mattison to run through.
In recent weeks, Mattison has also appeared to run harder or more confidently than he did in the beginning of the year. Solid play on the ground by the Broncos will also keep the electric Aggie offense on the sidelines. If Boise State can win the battle in the trenches, they have a great chance of coming away as the Mountain Division Champion on Saturday.
Key #2: Win The Turnover & Special Teams Battle
Boise State has had their fair share of special teams issues this year. Awful special teams play directly let to a loss at Oklahoma State and contributed to a loss vs San Diego State. Turnovers also played a large role in the loss at home vs San Diego State. Due to the similar strengths of both of these teams, a big turnover or special teams play could easily decide this contest.
The most recent example of this was the Mountain West Championship game between the Broncos and Bulldogs last December. Avery Williams provided the Broncos with a special teams boost in the second half with a great punt return. Utah State survived against Colorado State last week with not one, but two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Rypien will need to continue to take care of the football in this contest.
Love only has 4 interceptions on the year and does an excellent job taking care of the football. If Boise State can come up with a momentum-swinging play or two, they will be well on their way to victory on Saturday.