Boise State's Tuesday nighter against LaTech figures to be more of a challenge than the Broncos have had since Oregon State at the start of the month. That said, the Broncos are still favored by nearly 40.
Will LaTech be a challenge? Continue reading for some keys to the game for both teams and some strategies and storylines to watch. Then share your thoughts in the comments. Can LT's passing game move the ball on Boise State's secondary? Can the Bulldogs stop the Broncos through the air? Let's discuss.
Louisiana Tech vs. No. 3 Boise State
- When to watch: Tuesday, October 26, 6:00 p.m. MT
- Where to watch: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho (Capacity: 33,500, tickets still available)
- How to watch: Live on ESPN2 or ESPN3.com, with Beth Mowins, David Norrie, and Robert Smith (likely)
- What to wager: Boise State by 38 points
- What to wear: Forecast calls for 30 percent chance of showers, high of 47 degrees
Three matchups to watch
Lennon Creer vs. Boise State's D-line
Creer has two straight 100-yard games. Boise State's defensive line swallows running backs whole. Would LaTech be happy if Creer made it to 75 yards? The Bulldogs might have to be.
Rob McGill vs. Shea McClellin and Ryan Winterswyk
McGill is a two-time All-WAC second-team lineman, so he is bound to provide more resistance than the Western Idaho Fair turnstiles of New Mexico State and San Jose State's front five. Since the Broncos swap their DEs based on ball position, both McClellin and Winterswyk should get a chance to try their hand at getting by McRob. For a LaTech offense that is predicated on tons o' passing, this matchup will be huge either way.
Adrien Cole vs. Thomas Byrd
The Bulldogs are terrible against the pass (119 out of 120 teams), probably because LB Adrien Cole is really good against the run. Cole, an All-WAC first-teamer as a sophomore last season, is again one of the best linebackers in the conference, and Boise State C Thomas Byrd figures to be seeing a lot of him on Tuesday.
For Boise State:
- WR/PR Mitch Burroughs: Questionable with ankle sprain
- DT Michael Atkinson: Out for season (suspension)
For Louisiana Tech:
- WR Tim Molton: Out for season (ACL tear)
What Louisiana Tech can do to win
Ross Jenkins will have to play a career game to keep the Bulldogs in this one. Fortunately for him, he's already done that this season with his stupendous play against Idaho a couple weekends back. Boise State is not Idaho (thank goodness!), so Jenkins will be hard-pressed to match his Idaho output. But if there is a "Do Not Push" button on the Boise State defense, it is the secondary, so 300 yards passing is not out of the question. Get to that number, and LaTech could surprise.
Defensively, LaTech would benefit from playing bend-but-don't-break defense and keeping the Broncos out of the end zone as often as possible. If the LT offense gets anything going, the Bulldogs' best chance for an upset will be a shootout. And the best way to win a shootout is to put your touchdowns against their field goals.
What Louisiana Tech can do to lose
Louisiana Tech had the nation's second-worst pass defense going into their bye week, and if their pass D didn't get fixed with a weekend off, the Bulldogs are in trouble. Boise State can dink and dunk you to death, but give up big plays in the passing game (like LaTech seems destined to do), and there is no hope for LT.
If the Bulldog offensive line yields a lot of sacks or QB hits, the LT offense is going to have trouble. Worse, if Ross Jenkins gets knocked out (something that the Bronco defense did on a near weekly basis last season), you might as well call this one. From what back ups Tarik Hamki and Colby Cameron have shown, they don't have it.
What Boise State can do to win
Teams don't need to run the ball much against Louisiana Tech since their pass D is so poor. So it will be interesting to see how the Broncos decide to attack. I have a feeling that they might make running a point of emphasis on Tuesday and feature Doug Martin more than he has been featured in recent weeks. If Martin gets 100 yards, Boise State will win comfortably.
As they have proven in recent years, Boise State has the athletes and the scheme to successfully defend spread passing attacks, LaTech will be a good look into how this year's defense does against pure passing attacks. Good games by Brandyn Thompson and Jamar Taylor will be big. Then again, Boise State's pressure might render that moot. Either way, if Boise State shows up like it has in the past against spread offenses, Louisiana Tech will be out of luck.
What Boise State can do to lose
If the Broncos let the Bulldogs find balance early and often, they could be in for a long night. The magic numbers I keep coming back to are 100 rushing yards for Lennon Creer and 200 passing yards for Ross Jenkins. The Bulldogs would need both to happen (I don't think getting one or the other would be enough).
Other than that, the typical football cliches apply. Lose the turnover battle, settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, beat yourself with bad penalties, play poorly on special teams. Boise State could have got away with those mistakes against NMSU and SJSU, but starting on Tuesday, they begin a stretch of teams who might be able to do something about those errors.
- Boise State's running game. Will the Broncos even bother rushing the ball since LaTech is so charitable against the pass? Kellen Moore could throw for 600 yards against this pass defense, but I have to believe that Coach Pete and Co. would like to establish the ground game at least a little.
New LT head coach Sonny Dykes. I know he's supposed to be some sort of passing game genius, but then I read quotes like this and don't really know if he has the general football smarts to be a successful head coach.
"We felt like that at times during two a days that he was going to be our quarterback," said Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes, whose team takes a two-game winning streak into a bye week. "... We felt like when it was all said and done, Ross was going to give us the most consistent effort day in and day out. We felt like we knew exactly what we're going to get from him. He's a senior and he's played a lot and he's won a lot of games."
And they proceeded to start two other guys before they got to him? Weird.
Do you think Louisiana Tech has what it takes to pull the upset? Does the Bulldog offense scare you? How do you think Boise State's defense will look against the LT passing game? Share your thoughts in the comments.