#9 BYU vs. #21 Boise State: Keys to a Broncos Win
The Broncos host the Cougars as underdogs in the latest chapter of their rivalry.
The rivalry is back.
WEEK 10: #9 BYU Cougars (7-0) vs. #21 Boise State Broncos (2-0)
WHEN: Friday, November 6 — 7:45 PM MT/6:45 PM PT
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium; Boise, ID
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS1, by following this link.
You can also find the audio broadcast on TuneIn.
RADIO: The Boise State broadcast can be found throughout Idaho on the affiliates of the Bronco Sports Network, including flagship 670 AM (KBOI) in and around Boise. The BYU broadcast can be found on KSL 1160 AM and 102.7 FM, as well as on SiriusXM satellite radio channel 143.
SERIES RECORD: Boise State leads the series 7-3. However, in the last meeting on October 19, 2019, the Cougars defeated the Broncos, 28-25, in Provo.
LAST WEEK: Boise State defeated Air Force on the road, 49-30. BYU defeated Western Kentucky at home, 41-10.
ODDS (as of 11/6, via Vegas Insider): BYU -4
SP+ PROJECTION: BYU by 3.7 (58% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: BYU by 3.7
If you ask fans, players, and coaches from both of these teams if this matchup is a rivalry, you’ll get an array of answers. The competitiveness of their games, however, speaks for itself.
In the five times that the Cougars have visited the blue, only once has the result been anything other than a one-score game. The Broncos lead the series 7-3 overall and have never lost to BYU in Boise. This game, however, finds the Broncos as four-point underdogs on their home turf, something that has rarely occurred since Boise State made the move up to the FBS level. ESPN’s FPI favors the Cougars with a 53.5% win probability for the matchup.
Injuries and COVID-related game absences can be a bit of a mystery depending on how much each respective coaching staff is willing to or allowed to disclose. The Broncos were without a number of starters last week at Air Force and lost a few more during the contest. The most notable injuries and absences included Hank Bachmeier, JL Skinner, Demitri Washington, and George Holani.
Jack Sears did a fantastic job filling Bachmeier’s shoes, so the quarterback position may not be as much of a concern regardless of who sees time there. The Broncos are quite thin at running back, though, and would greatly benefit from Holani being able to suit up against the Cougars. They would also benefit from getting Skinner and Tyreque Jones back to combat the talent that BYU has under center.
That talent, Zach Wilson, is the most important Cougars player in this matchup. The junior quarterback is performing extremely well this season, throwing for 2,152 yards, 19 touchdowns, and just two interceptions on the season. On defense, the Cougars feature a talented linebacker in Isaiah Kaufusi, who leads the team with 46 tackles, three sacks, and an interception.
For the Broncos, their most important player on offense is the starter at running back. That honor will go to either Holani or Andrew Van Buren, depending on the former’s recovery after his undisclosed injury at Air Force. Boise State likes to control the pace of the game, often utilizing the ground game to do so, so a strong effort from Holani and/or Van Buren will be key. On defense, the Boise State front seven may determine the outcome of the game. Washington will miss the rest of the season with injury, it will be up to Isaiah Bagnah and Shane Irwin to anchor the Bronco pass rush, which will be instrumental in slowing down Wilson and the BYU offense.
Due to where each team currently is in this unprecedented college football season, the outcome of this game is extremely difficult to predict. Normally, taking the Broncos at home would be a no-brainer, regardless of the opponent. However, with the limited body of work available to examine with Boise State, it’s not so clear this season.
Regardless of the circumstances and surroundings, I feel as though the Broncos will take on a tough BYU team and come out victorious on Friday. They have historically performed extremely well as an underdog and I expect a similar result against the Cougars on the blue.
Boise State 34, BYU 24