First Responders Bowl: Keys For A Boise State Victory
What do the Broncos need to do to finish the season off with a win?
Lyle’s status is currently unknown at this time
First off, I would like to extent a heart-felt Merry Christmas and thank you to all those first responders out there. Secondly raise your hand if you thought the Broncos would end up facing off in the ServPro First Responders Bowl in Dallas, Texas, versus the Boston College Eagles. These two teams have only met once before, also in a bowl game.
The Eagles topped the Broncos in 2005 in the MPC Computers Bowl 27-21. Both teams are currently or have been ranked in the top 25 this season. The Broncos come into the game at number 25, while the Eagles got as high as number 17 prior to losing 3 straight heading into this game.
Boston College mostly relies on an old-school tough run game on offense with running back AJ Dillion who has touted the rock 227 times for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dillion topped 1,000 yards, despite missing a few games with an injury.
He is now reported to be completely healthy, which is good news for the Eagles. Boston College has used multiple quarterbacks this year, but Anthony Brown is their primary signal caller. He is 185 for 285, with 2,121 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions thus far on the season. Kobay White is their primary receiver with 33 receptions for 526 yards and 3 touchdowns.
On defense, Boston College has the 97th ranked defense in the nation, but have come into this game with opportunistic edge rushers and defensive backs. They rank number 1 in interceptions and sacks with 18 and 33 respectively. Brett Rypien will have to make sound decisions to help the Broncos achieve offensive success.
Key #1: Keep Mattison Moving Forward
As has been the theme with previous Bronco teams, they have relied upon a talented running back to carry the load, especially as the season progressed. Alexander Mattison ran for 200 yards (yet again) and a touchdown against Fresno State in a messy Mountain West Championship game. In his last 4 games, he has rushed for at least 144 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. The Bronco’s offensive line needs to continue to do their part to keep Rypien clean and Mattison moving forwards to find success on Wednesday.
Key #2: Limit BC Production on the Ground
The Eagles are strongly dependent on their ground game for success. Boise State has fared well against the run, coming into the game with the 23rd best rush defense in college football and those efforts will need to continue Wednesday. Their rush defense did take a hit when starting middle linebacker Tyson Maeva was sent home from Dallas due to a violation of team rules. Prior to the team leaving for the bowl game, nickleback Desmond Williams transferred from the team and linebacker Blake Whitlock was dismissed from the team. Look for Ezekiel Noa and Tony Lashley to play bigger roles in the middle of the defense as the take on the Eagles in Dallas.
Key #3: Next Man Up
Scale Igiehon and Ezekiel Noa were highlighted in this section as two freshmen that would have to step up big time for the Broncos to have success against Fresno. Guess what? They did step up in big ways and have continued to improve since then. With the announcements of the dismissal, suspension, transfer described above, the Broncos were already short-handed.
It was also recently announced that receiver John Hightower and backup running back Robert Mahone were ruled academically ineligible and will not be allowed to play in the bowl game. The Broncos will also be without talented freshman Khalil Shakir, who is out with an injury. Look for freshman Andrew Van Buren to step into the backup running back role and Billy Bowens to bolster the receiving core depth.
ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) gives the Broncos a 56% chance to beat the Eagles on Wednesday, in a rare morning game. Boise State still has a bad taste in their mouths after a disappointing Mountain West Championship game and they rectify things in Dallas, in route to another 11 win season.
Boise State 34, Boston College 24