Mountain West Football Championship Game Day Essentials: Boise State vs. Fresno State
Everything you need to know between the Broncos and Bulldogs
Mountain West Championship Game between #25 Fresno State and #22 Boise State
Disclaimer: While this article is a ‘neutral conference article’ on Mountain West Wire, I am a Boise State graduate.
Just like in 2017, Fresno State will be playing at Boise State for the Mountain West Championship in 2018. The Bulldogs and Broncos will meet for the 4th time in just 2 years. The longtime rivals also met in the 2014 Mountain West Championship game. The Broncos have won the 2 previous matchups for the conference championship over the Bulldogs.
The Broncos have also been dominant overall in this rivalry, holding a sizeable advantage in the win column. Fresno State has especially struggled on the blue turf, losing all 10 matchups in Boise since 1986 when the Broncos replaced their grass field with their now iconic blue playing surface.
However, since Jeff Tedford took over the coaching reigns at Fresno State before the 2017 season the matchups have been very close. In 2017, the matchup in Fresno went the Bulldogs way with an 11 point victory while the two games in Boise since 2017 were Bronco victories, but these outcomes were both decided by under one score.
With the stakes extremely high, Fresno State and Boise State prepare for what should be an exciting battle for the championship crown.
Date: December 1, 2018
Where: Albertsons Stadium in Boise, ID
When: 5:45 PM Mountain Standard Time
Spread: Boise State -1
Weather: 30°F with mild winds and a chance of rain or snow.
Streaming: Sling TV, Free Trial
All-Time Record: Boise State 15-6 Fresno State
Last Meeting: Boise State 24, Fresno State 17 November 9, 2018 In Boise, ID
ESPN FPI Win Predictor: Boise State 55% win
Sagarin Team Rankings: Fresno State 22nd, Boise State 27th
Read: Mountain West Wire’s Writer Roundtable focusing on the Bronco and Bulldog Rivalry and the Title Game.
#25 Fresno State, how they got here
After falling to 1-1 after a tough road loss in Minnesota, the Bulldogs rebounded by beating UCLA and then rattled off another 6 wins and earned the #23 spot in the college football playoff rankings. Fresno State would, however, fall to Boise State to slip to 8-2. The Bulldogs recovered by beating in state foes San Diego State and San Jose State to clinch the West Division and slide back into the rankings.
#22 Boise State, how they got here
Entering the year with much preseason expectations, the Broncos opened the year strong before stumbling to 3-2, including a conference loss to San Diego State. The Broncos however have gone on a 7 game win streak since that defeat including a thrilling win over #21 Utah State on the last game of the year to clinch the Mountain Division.
Read Mountain West Wire’s Positional Edge Breakdown.
Bulldogs to Watch
Marcus McMaryion, Senior-Quarterback (Team Captain/All Conference Honorable Mention)
The steady leader of the Bulldogs offense has been extremely efficient all season long. With 3,284 yards on a 71% completion percentage, McMaryion has 24 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. McMaryion must avoid making mistakes and turning over the ball in this contest and be a calm efficient general for his team.
Jordan Mims, Sophomore-Running Back
A quick shifty back, Mims has 436 yards on a 3.9 yards per carry average with 8 total touchdowns. If Boise State brings the pass rush, Mims will have to be able to keep the defense honest and gain steady yardage to on the ground. Mims did gain nearly 6 yards a carry against the Broncos in the last contest and is capable of big plays.
KeeSean Johnson, Senior-Wide Receiver (Second Team All Conference)
The Bulldogs most talented offensive player, Johnson has had a monster season. Johnson has reeled in 1,267 and 8 touchdowns for the 2018 season. Johnson did have 95 yards and a touchdown in the earlier contest versus the Broncos and McMaryion will be looking to get KeeSean the d*mn ball.
Jared Rice, Junior-Tight End (Second Team All Conference)
With 580 yards and 3 touchdowns, Rice has been a steady outlet for McMaryion. Rice will have to be versatile by blocking and slipping through the Boise State defense as needed to help the Bulldog move the chains.
Jeffery Allison, Junior-Linebacker (First Team All Conference, Defensive Player of the Year)
A tackling machine, Allison was deservedly named the Mountain West defensive player of the year. Allison had 14 tackles while nursing a few injuries in the last contest versus the Broncos. Allison should be close to 100% for this matchup and will look to make an impact.
George Helmuth, Senior-Linebacker (Team Captain/All Conference Honorable Mention)
With 63 tackles and 4 sacks for the year, Helmuth has been a terrific complement for Allison. As the leader of the Bulldog defense, Helmuth will have to steady his teammates and help keep them disciplined against a dangerous Boise State offense.
Mike Bell, Junior-Cornerback (Second Team All Conference)
One of the better defensive backs in the Mountain West, Bell has racked up 60 tackles and 3 interceptions in the 2018 season. Fresno State has one of the most talented secondaries in the conference and they will look to stifle down the Boise State passing attack.