Game Day Preview, #20 Boise State and Utah State Face Off with the Mountain Division in the Balance
Who will start at quarterback for either team?
Broncos and Aggies Clash in Logan
A season which looked lost a few weeks ago for Utah State has been rejuvenated after two big victories and the Aggies are now staring at a major opportunity. Utah State was not only able to hold off the Wyoming Cowboys in Logan last week and once again secure the Bridger Rifle, they gained their sixth victory on the year and became bowl eligible.
The 20th ranked Boise State Broncos meanwhile dispatched New Mexico on the Blue Turf to move to 9-1 on Senior Day last week but face a much stiffer test this week on the road versus Utah State.
The Aggies and the Broncos had a fierce contest last year in Boise which featured both teams ranked and it was the Broncos who came out ahead and earned the right to go on to the Mountain West Championship game. The stakes may be equally high this year as these two rivals face off for their 24th meeting.
Date: November 23, 2019
Where: Maverick Stadium in Logan, UT
When: 8:30 PM MST
How to Watch: CBS Sports Network
Stream: FuboTV – Get a seven-day free trial
Spread: Boise State -9
ESPN FPI Win Predictor: Boise State 68% win probability
Weather: High of 43°/Low of 21° with mostly clear skies and light winds. Sunset at 5:01 PM
Head to Head Record: Boise State 18 wins, Utah State 5 wins
Previous Meeting: Boise State 33, Utah State 24 on November 24, 2018 in Boise, ID
Big West Conference Titles: Boise State 2, Utah State 3
WAC Conference Titles: Boise State 8, Utah State 1
MWC Mountain Division Titles: Boise State 3, Utah State 1
MWC Conference Titles: Boise State 3, Utah State 0
Bronco/Aggie History Rewind
Utah State played their first recorded football game in 1892 but were an independent unit until they joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in 1916 before moving to the Mountain States Skyline Conference in 1938. The Aggies would return to independent play in 1962 before joining the Big West in 1978. After a long run in the Big West, Utah State bounced around independency and the Sun Belt between 2001 to 2004 before finally landing in the Western Athletic Conference.
Boise State football would kick off in 1933 and the Broncos competed as a junior college until joining Division 1 AA (now known as the FCS) in 1968. The Broncos were an independent and then a member of the Big Sky before making the jump to 1A competition (or FBS) in 1996 when they joined Utah State in the Big West.
The Aggies and Broncos faced off for the first time back in 1975, a Utah State victory in Boise, Idaho. Boise State and Utah State would face each other 4 times as non-conference opponents before Boise State joined the Big West. The Broncos would go on to win 3 out of 5 over the Aggies as Big West opponents before Boise State moved to the Western Athletic Conference in 2001.
In the WAC, Boise State racked up 6 straight victories over Utah State while also ringing up 8 conference titles. Boise State would then head to the Mountain West Conference after the 2010 season and Utah State took advantage of the Broncos absence to win their only WAC championship in 2012. The Aggies followed the Broncos to the MWC in 2013 and have played Boise State every year since as Mountain Division foes. The Broncos are 5-1 in these matchups but the Aggies were able to land a big victory in 2015 to a score of 52-26 in Logan.
Boise State Season Rewind
The 2019 Bronco season started off with a bang as true freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier led Boise State to a victory against college football blue blood Florida State at Doak Walker Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida. The good times would not stop there as the Broncos would win the next 6 straight and move all the way to the 14th spot in the AP Rankings. With superstar Curtis Weaver leading a young defense and Bachmeier at the head of a deep and talented offensive machine, the Broncos looked like a strong favorite to get to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Unfortunately the young quarterback had been taking quite a few hits over the course of the season and was forced to miss a matchup on the road against Brigham Young and the Cougars were able to pull off the upset over the Broncos. Boise State was able to recover and knocked off San Jose State, Wyoming, and New Mexico in successive weeks to move to 9-1 for the year.
The New Year’s Six Cotton Bowl is once again within reach of the Broncos as they are in a dog fight with multiple members of the American Athletic Conference and Appalachian State from the Sun Belt for the coveted bid. Boise State however must first turn their attention to their own conference. The Broncos are favored in this road contest and can lock up the Mountain Division with a win but have been defeated by their rival in Logan before.
Utah State Season Rewind
Gary Andersen’s first year back with Utah State has been a wild one. The follow up to last year’s smashing 11 win season began about as you would expect, with the Aggies’ annual heartbreaking road loss to a Power 5 team followed by home wins against Colorado State and some unfortunate FCS team.
The first significant early development was a big road win at San Diego State which seemed to fuel a mostly new look squad with the confidence that these Aggies could compete with anyone. The season brimmed with promise as Utah State took to the road to face the mighty SEC.
Those paying attention to Joe Burrow and the Louisiana State Tigers probably knew the surefire beatdown awaiting Utah State at LSU would be an ugly affair but the loss still marked a noticeable turning point. Quarterback Jordan Love’s interception troubles persisted, the defense played uninspired after an initial early game burst, and that once sparkling confidence gained in San Diego evaporated.
What’s worse, a bounce back win over lowly Nevada two weeks later did little to restore it. The team had yet to appear fully operational on both sides of the ball and even with three key conference wins under its belt something was broken under the hood heading into a tough road game at Air Force.
That’s when the wheels came off. Air Force mercilessly bullied the Aggies for a nightmarish 60 minutes, damaging something in USU’s internal makeup so completely that a week later BYU gleefully trampled on whatever was left. In a two week span, Utah State lost the Wagon Wheel, its best linebacker, and its identity as a once promising season circled the drain.
And then in a mighty stroke of both fortune and inspiring resiliency, the Aggies came to themselves just in time to survive a road bout at Fresno (thanks in part to the best kicker in the Mountain West) and returned home to defend Maverik Stadium against Wyoming’s vaunted defense. The season wasn’t lost after all — at 6-4 the Aggies have once again claimed bowl eligibility and a spark of hope that perhaps this matchup against Boise State can still be a game.