Spiff’s Spots: Boise St. Preview
OREM, UTAH – In what is quickly becoming a well-respected rivalry, the BYU Cougars will host No. 20 Boise State Broncos on Saturday night. It is the fourth game of a 12-game series that began in 2012. The Broncos have won two of the three games thus far in series; additionally they won both games in 2003-04 series as well.
Boise State is coming off a 16-13 win over former head coach Chris Peterson and the Washington Huskies. Washington missed a 46-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining that would have forced overtime. Saturday’s game will be the Broncos first road trip of the season; they are 11-6 (.647) on the road the last three years.
Meanwhile, BYU is coming back to Provo, Utah sky high after well-documented last-second heroics in Lincoln, Neb. Tanner Mangum’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Mathews after time expired gave the Cougars a 33-28 win. It will be interesting to see how they perform following such an emotional victory. BYU is 14-4 (.778) at home the last three seasons.
The Broncos will be bringing an extremely experienced and talented team. Overall, 17 starters are back from an 11-2 squad last year. The starting offensive line now has 100 career starts. And Boise State will look to move the football behind the strength of that line. Although they would like a little more efficiency than they had last week.
Against the Huskies they ran for 185 yards, but it took them 53 attempts (3.5 ypc) to amass that total. With some injuries to the BYU defensive line, they may find more success. The Cougars initially looked stout against the run – Nebraska gained just 37 yards on 17 carries (2.2 ypc) in the first half – but they fell off that pace in the second half. The Cornhuskers gained 132 second half yards on just 20 carries (6.6 ypc). This battle in the trenches when the Broncos are on offense could likely determine the outcome.
The Cougars will look to spread the ball around through the air. In the season opener, nine different players caught passes. It will be up to the true freshman Mangum to continue that trend. Unfortunately, true freshmen at BYU haven’t seen much success in their first start.
The first true freshman quarterback start came in 1997 when Drew Miller lost to UTEP 14-3. John Beck was the next true freshman to give it a go. He lost 18-14 to Stanford. Finally, five seasons ago, Jake Heaps lost his first official career start to Nevada 27-13. Those three quarterbacks combined to complete 63 of 122 passes for 734 yards with just one touchdown and five interceptions (96.69 PER). Anything close to that kind of production spells certain doom for BYU.
Pre-season Matchup to Watch: Boise State quarterback Ryan Finley vs BYU secondary.
Updated Matchup to Watch: Boise State offensive line vs BYU defensive line. Will the Cougars be able to replace senior defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma, who is out four to six weeks with an injured knee? Whether through personnel or scheme, his disruptive force will need replacing to free up fellow defensive linemen Bronson Kaufusi, Logan Taele, Remington Peck and Graham Rowley to fill gaps and make plays.
In the end, I still think BYU has the talent to pull out a victory. Mangum showed he is ready for prime-time. Boise is a known opponent that should not be able to surprise
Bold Prediction: The BYU Defense will force three Boise State turnovers.
- Boise leads the all-time series 5-1 (.833).
- In previous games, Boise has won a blue or black helmet. Bronco is 9-8 (.529) against teams in a blue helmet; he is 3-1 (.750) against a black helmet. Boise has also been known to wear white helmets. Bronco is 22-6 (.786).
- Boise is averaging 27.3 points, 465.7 yards and 21.3 first downs on offense, BYU is at 24.3 points, 363.3 yards and 19.3 first downs in the games under Bronco.
- Both teams have punted well. Boise is averaging 46.2 yards and BYU 45.2 yards per punt.
- In the last three games, BYU has had nine plays of 20 or more yards, while the Broncos have had 15.
- BYU has gone three and out 17 times and Boise 11 times. The Cougars have turned the ball over seven times and the Broncos five.
- The PER for BYU has been 120.98 and Boise 146.66, but both teams have only met the 135 PER Standard once each.
Pre-season Prediction: BYU 31 Boise State 28
Updated Prediction: BYU 21 Boise State 17
8:15 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015
Lavell Edwards Stadium (63,470)
Spiff Season Prediction Tracker: 1-0 (Correct Picks: BYU over Nebraska)(Incorrect Picks: N/A)
Scotten H. Whaley
Loyal. Strong. True. Follow me on Twitter @SpiffCoug or find me at www.LoyalStrongTrue.com or www.CougarCorner.com.