Colorado State vs. Boise State: Three Keys to a Broncos Win
The Broncos look to bounce back on the blue by beating the Rams once again. Here’s our preview of how Boise State can take down CSU.
How can the Broncos beat the Rams?
WEEK 11: Colorado State Rams (1-1) vs. Boise State Broncos (2-1, 2-0 Mountain West)
WHEN: Thursday, November 12 — 6:00 PM MT/5:00 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 Colorado State broadcast can be found on 102.9 FM (KARS) in and around Fort Collins.
For satellite radio users, the game will also be available on SiriusXM channel 972.
SERIES RECORD: Boise State leads the series 9-0. In the last meeting on November 29, 2019, the Broncos defeated the Rams, 31-24, in Fort Collins.
LAST WEEK: Boise State lost to BYU at home, 51-17, while Colorado State defeated Wyoming at home in the Border War, 34-24.
ODDS (as of 11/12, via Vegas Insider): Boise State -14
SP+ PROJECTION: Boise State by 14.7 (80% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 17.6
After suffering one of its most lopsided losses in recent memory, the Boise State Broncos will look to stay undefeated in conference play when they host the Colorado State Rams on Thursday night.
The short week isn’t easy on either side, but the Broncos’ lingering injury and COVID-related issues almost certainly have the Rams eyeing a breakthrough after a few close calls in recent years. Head coach Steve Addazio and company have already had one, after all, taking down rival Wyoming to reclaim the Bronze Boot. A win would also give the Rams a head-to-head edge that could prove critical later in the race to the top two spots in the Mountain West, so the Broncos won’t have much time to linger on what went wrong last weekend.
Here’s how Boise State can maintain the upper hand and beat the Rams.
Three Keys to a Boise State Victory
1. Protect whoever ends up under center.
Even without starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier, the Broncos had to feel good heading into their hotly anticipated matchup against BYU last Friday because Jack Sears proved he could handle the offense with aplomb against Air Force the weekend before. When Sears got knocked out in the first quarter against the Cougars, though, the offense folded for a large chunk of the game, struggling to move the ball with both Cade Fennegan and Andy Peters under center.
It seems obvious, then, that however the situation resolves itself will have a massive impact on this game. Even if Bachmeier and/or Sears makes it back under center, the offensive line will have its hands full against a Rams front that has put in plenty of work across their first two games, racking up a 12.7% sack rate that currently ranks fourth among FBS teams. If the Broncos can’t find more success on obvious passing downs, especially, CSU could have a significant advantage on their hands: Boise State has allowed a 10.8% sack rate in such situations and are just 3-of-12 on third downs with seven or more yards to go.
2. Bottle up Dante Wright.
The Rams offense got creative when it came to providing opportunities for Wright in the open field last week, to the tune of ten catches and 146 yards, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they found more ways to funnel targets to the sophomore standout. Offensive coordinator Joey Lynch put him in the slot and outside, they put him in pre-snap motion and even let him run jet sweeps on occasion, so finding ways to take Wright out of the game flow could favor the Broncos by forcing the offense’s secondary weapons to step up and make more plays.
To this point, they haven’t really had to do so because Nate Craig-Myers and E.J. Scott have only five and four catches so far, respectively.
3. Don’t let the Rams tilt field position too much in their favor.
If the game becomes a defensive battle (and it definitely could), one pivotal factor is that Colorado State appears to have a big advantage in the punting game. Ryan Stonehouse has been one of the best specialists in the country over the past three years and 2020 has been no different so far, as the senior has averaged 44.2 yards per punt with a net average of 40.6. Both are significantly better than what the Broncos have managed so far.
Joel Velasquez and Gavin Wale have combined to averaged 33.67 yards per punt in the first three games, which ranks dead last in the Mountain West by nearly five full yards. Their net average of 30.33 ranks 122nd in the FBS, too, meaning that any prolonged offensive sputters could put the Broncos back in the same situation they found themselves in a week ago.
Any prediction about this game is going to hinge almost entirely on who plays for Boise State and who doesn’t. If the situation ends up exactly the same as it was against BYU, the Rams have more than enough talent on both sides of the ball to keep the Broncos at arm’s length. Even if they get some of their most significant pieces back, Colorado State at full strength appears to be much closer to the Cougars than Air Force or Utah State.
Put simply, there’s too much uncertainty about the Broncos, especially on offense, to think that they’ll be able to extend their win streak against the Rams.
Colorado State 31, Boise State 28