Boise State vs. Utah State: Keys to an Aggies Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Aggies host the Broncos in a critical Mountain West clash. Here’s how to watch and a preview of how USU can keep the Broncos reeling.
Will USU’s luck run out against the Broncos?
WEEK 4: Boise State Broncos (1-2) vs. Utah State Aggies (3-0)
WHEN: Saturday, September 25th, 2021 – 10:00 AM MT/9:00 AM PT
WHERE: Maverik Stadium; Logan, Utah (25,100)
STREAMING: FuboTV – Get a 7-day free trial
RADIO: Utah State radio broadcast on 1280 the zone (1280 AM), 1280thezone.com / Tunein.com
SERIES RECORD: Boise State leads the series, 20-5. In the last meeting on October 24, 2020, the Broncos beat the Aggies, 42-13, in Boise.
LAST WEEK: Utah State defeated Air Force at home, 49-45, while Boise State lost to Oklahoma State at home, 21-20.
ODDS (via ESPN): Boise State -9
SP+ PROJECTION: Boise State by 14.4
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 8.4
Three Keys to an Aggie Victory
1. Hit the hole hard and run!
Through three games, the Aggie rushing attack has been solid. USU is currently averaging 206.3 ypg, good for 30th in the NCAA. Calvin Tyler Jr. has emerged as the feature back for this group and he’s toting the ball with a terrific 6.3 YPC average. This has allowed the Aggie offense to open up considerably since opponents have to respect the run or risk getting run over.
Against this Boise State team, there’s no reason USU can’t have a breakthrough game against the Broncos. While their level of competition is certainly a factor in these numbers, Boise State is well below average on run defense this season, yielding an unusually high 212.7 YPG to their opponents. Teams are running the ball almost at will against Boise and the trend has not appeared to wane. Oklahoma State’s Jaylen Warren rushed for over 200 yards by himself, including a 75 yarder, in the Cowboys’ 21-20 win on the blue turf.
— OSU Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) September 21, 2021
The Broncos’ depth on the defensive line has been thinned in recent weeks — nose tackle Divine Obichere is nursing a shoulder injury while defensive tackle Scale Igiehon has taken a leave of absence from the team — and that is something the Aggie rushing attack should be eager to exploit relentlessly. Utah State has great size in its backfield with Tyler Jr. and Elelyon Noa and they can also change pace with John Gentry for more speed.
2. Make the Broncos one-dimensional on offense
Despite their 1-2 record, Boise State still boasts top-level talents on offense who can flip a game’s momentum quickly. Putting the clamps on those playmakers is critical to keeping the game in reach.
Hank Bachmeier, for one, is as tough and gritty a player as he ever was. He’s given Boise State chances to win in key game moments this year and he generally takes good care of the football, notwithstanding the late game interceptions he had against both UCF and Oklahoma State. So far, he’s netting 337.67 passing yards per game and sports a 7-2 TD-INT ratio. He’s got a great receiver to throw to in Khalil Shakir as well, who has hauled the ball in for 412 yards and two touchdowns.
What a GRAB by Khalil Shakir 😳😳
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 11, 2021
Shakir is easily on pace for a 1,000 yard season. USU would be foolish to leave him in single coverage against the questionable Aggie secondary. Stopping him will need to be a priority. The next best Bronco receiver, Octavius Evans, has under half the receptions and one-fourth of the yardage production of Shakir. It’s a reasonable trade-off to shut down Shakir if it means Evans has to try and carry more of the offensive load.
USU’s defense needs to shut down the running game and make Bachmeier beat them with his arm. Boise’s rushing attack has been anemic so far this season, with their backs having only rushed for 78 YPG. Though the Aggies have displayed weaknesses of their own against the run, there have been some definite successes, too. Linebacker Justin Rice has been wreaking havoc on opposing offenses while defensive ends Nick Heninger and Jaylin Bannerman have shown the ability to consistently get in the backfield.
Bachmeier has also taken as many hits as ever the last few games, so pressuring him and minimizing his impact will give the Aggie run defense more to work with. If they can’t do that, Boise’s running backs could have an unexpectedly good game and neutralize any defensive advantage USU has.
3. No slow starts
Utah State can’t afford a slow start against Boise State. The Broncos have too much talent and too much pride to have a repeat performance of their game against UCF. If the Aggies give an inch, Boise is more than capable of taking a mile, especially against an Aggie defense with notable flaws.
If the Aggies get in a hole and have to come back by double digits again, chances are decent Boise State will be able to snuff it out. Their defense is down from where it normally is, but that’s still not a bad place to be. Pound for pound, Boise State is arguably more talented than Utah State at most positions on that side of the ball.
On the other hand, it’s difficult for a team to remain lucky and depend on mistakes of other teams to win. It invites a sense of complacency and it can lead to sloppy mistakes. If USU turns the ball over or doesn’t sustain drives, the Broncos have more than enough playmakers to make them pay. Logan Bonner needs to look to avoid any big hits and also throw the ball away when the play isn’t there. Live to fight another down!
Week 4⃣ | Game Notes vs. Boise State
— USU Football (@USUFootball) September 20, 2021
The Aggies have been historically dominated by the Broncos. This year, the narrative is decidedly different, yet nothing can be taken for granted.
Boise has gotten off to a slow start in the win column, but they can turn their season fortunes with one good game in Logan. Fortunately for USU, they have the players on offense to score enough points to win. Boise has had strong first halves this season, but not good second halves. The opposite is true for USU where they’ve had poor first halves and great second halves.
It will take a complete four quarters to win against the Broncos and I believe the Aggies are finally up to that task.
Utah State 35, Boise State 31