The Broncos and Rockets will meet for the first time this Saturday as Boise State tries to remain unbeaten and Toledo tries to continue their dazzling road play.
Continue reading for a preview of the game with details on where to watch, what to watch for, and how the Rockets might pull spoil a perfectly good Homecoming.
No. 4 Boise State vs. Toledo
- When to watch: Saturday, October 9, 6:00 MT kickoff
- Where to watch: Bronco Stadium, Boise, ID (Capacity: 33,610)
- How to watch: Live on KTVB (tune in early for Ryan Larrondo nervous tics!)
- What to wager: Boise State by 38 points
- What to wear: Forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, 68 degrees
Three matchups to watch
WR Eric Page vs. BSU secondary
Page had about as good of a year as a true freshman can have in 2009—hauling in 82 passes for 1159 yards and 7 TDs. For his efforts, he was named second-team All-MAC and a first-team Freshman All-American by the venerable Phil Steele. Whether covering Page falls to Brandyn Thompson, Jamar Taylor or a conglomerate of all 5 DBs will be a series-by-series decision, but it's safe to say that the secondary best have their heads on swivels when #12 is in the game. This kid is as dangerous as they come.
Sophomore Austin Dantin has started every game this year for the Rockets, and though he's been sack-prone and not a yardage machine, he's at least been completing more than half his passes and staying on the bright side of the TD/INT scale. Well, Dantin was unceremoniously benched during last week's home loss to Wyoming after completing just 40% of his passes and failing to spark the offense in any meaningful way. In came Terrance Owens, who instantly sparked the Rocket offense with a 53-yard TD to, who else, Eric Page. In just over a quarter of play with Owens under center, the Rockets were able to nearly equal what Dantin and crew had taken 3+ to accumulate. Dantin's supposedly still got the job, but don't be surprised if Owens gets the call on Saturday
when if the Rockets find themselves struggling to produce points.
Toledo senior linebacker Archie Donald is a tackling machine, and not rundown, Soviet era machinery either. Through just five games this season, Donald has racked up 52 tackles, 2 interceptions, and killed a man in Tulsa just to watch him die. Inevitably, Toledo's sure tackler is bound to meet Boise State's tacklee...and that's what it will be like when world's collide. A brilliant supernova will be briefly visible when Bronco rock meets Rocket hard place, but only one man will be left standing (that man's name rhymes with "Rug Carton").
For Boise State:
- D.J. Harper still out with knee injury
Mitch Burroughs still out with ankle injury
- Kevan Lee out with "fistpump elbow"
- DE Alex Johnson out with facial fracture
What Toledo can do to win
Toledo's biggest win of the season came two weeks ago against the Big Televen's Purdue. Toledo's key to success against the Boilermakers was a prolific Austin Dantin, who completed nearly 80 percent of his passes on the night and accounted for 4 Rocket scores. Dantin made plays with his arm and his legs against Purdue and if he can neutralize Boise State's pass rush with some deft scrambling ala Tyrod Taylor, top receiver Eric Page is bound to find some space in the Bronco secondary. Of course, the aforementioned tackling automaton known as Archie Donald also notched a staggering 16 tackles that night as well, and he'll certainly help the Rockets' cause if he can be a run-stopper on the Blue™.
What Toledo can do to lose
If Toledo plays even a smidge like they did in a season-opening loss to Arizona—they're toast. The Rockets didn't do anything right in their 41-2 beating at the hands of the Wildcats...totalling just 183 yards of offense, committing 2 turnovers, and allowing 'zona QB Nick Foles to look kind of like, well, Kellen Moore. It generally goes without saying that playing poorly will lead to a loss, but this is even more true agains the 4th-ranked Broncos who will smother even evenly-matched teams at home. If the Rockets don't show up from the opening whistle, the blood-letting will have begun.
What Boise State can do to win
Toledo's rush defense is actually a strength for the team...coming in at 13th in the nation, but their passing defense leaves much to be desired. The unit falls below even the lowly Washington State Cougars (102nd) when it comes time to defend the aerial assault. Kellen Moore, Titus Young, and Austin Pettis may find this news encouraging.
What Boise State can do to lose
Boise State may be coming off a 59-0 drubbing of the New Mexico State Aggies, but make no mistake, Toledo is not New Mexico State. The 3-2 Rockets have a pulse and are capable of putting complete games together...if Boise State allows any sort of sizable momentum shifts to occur via penalties or with special teams breakdowns, Toledo can certainly hang tough with the Broncos or even pull off an epic upset.
- O-line. Boise State coaches will continue their favorite pastime this weekend: O-lineman BINGO. The Broncos will add a seventh lineman to the mix on Saturday as converted DT Chuck Hayes will see some time in relief of the solid OG Will Lawrence. Elsewhere on the line, Matt Slater and Brenel Myers will continue their see-saw battle for supremacy as Myers nurses a wonky ankle. Toledo has 14 sacks on the year, so I hope that every O-lineman is ready to earn his scholly.
- Special Teams. Special teams continued to be a scary place for the Broncos last weekend, even in the least scariest place on earth, Las Cruces, NM. Boise State allowed 136 return yards to NMSU's Taveon Rogers last weekend (granted, they kicked to him every 3 minutes), and often gifted the Aggies some pretty prime field position. Thankfully, the Aggies had no idea what to do with said field position, but a more competent team might. A bright spot on special teams last week was the emergence of Chris Potter as a more-than-capable punt returner and Jeremy Avery not blocking anyone on the back whilst in the field-of-vision of a referee.
What needs to happen for Toledo to restore the MAC's honor against Boise State? Can special teams stop being a liability for the Broncos? Will a #4 Bronco team feature a bigger shoulder-chip than a #3 Bronco team? Isn't Toledo where Klinger from M•A•S•H is from?