As I'm sure you've known for months, Boise State University will be taking on the Georgia Bulldogs September 3rd. The game is arguably the most hyped game of the opening weekend this college football season. So how do the teams match up? Who holds the advantages and where? Lets take a look at the match up after the jump.
WHEN BOISE STATE HAS THE BALL
BOISE STATE RUSH OFFENSE
The Broncos ranked 7th nationally in rush yards per attempt last year, thanks in large part to their stellar O-line... and Doug Martin. Martin rushed for a mind blowing 1,260 yards. That was good for a 6.3 yards per attempt average. He also reached the end zone 12 times. Martin exploded onto to the national scene in a big way in 2010 and was named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List (nations top RB) for this upcoming season. The Broncos should continue to pound the ball between the tackles and set up the play action passing game that Kellen Moore conducts to perfection.
GEORGIA RUSH DEFENSE
The Bulldogs gave up 3.7 yards per rush last season, good for a 39th national ranking. Most of this can be attributed to their massive defensive line. Kwame Geathers measures at 6'6" 320 lbs, and will hold down the middle of the line. The DE's this year will be DeAngelo Tyson, 6'2" 306 and Abry Jones 6'3" 309. With a group as big as this, big things should be expected this year. However, they only ranked 56th nationally in rushing last year, giving up 148 rush yards per game. Also, they struggled to keep opposing running backs out of the end zone, giving up 24 rush TDs. This was an area of concern for the boys from Athens as they finished the year ranked 85th nationally. Their Linebacker corps will be a combination of Cornelius Washington 6'4" 269, USC transfer Jarvis Jones 6'3" 225, the 6'2" 233 lb Christian Robinson, and the 6'3" 236 Alec Ogletree.
ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE
BOISE STATE PASSING OFFENSE
What really needs to be said here? BSU has one of the top 2 quarterbacks in the country, and arguably the best in Moore. Moore compiled video game-like numbers last season for the 2nd year in a row. The Prosser, WA product had a QB rating of 182.6 last year, good for #1 in the nation. He had the #3 completion percentage in the country last year, hitting on 71.3% of his passes. He was #2 in the country in yards per attempt with an even 10. Number 11's 2010 campaign was so good he earned an invite to New York and finished 4th in the Hiesman Trophy voting.
The receiving corps will be breaking in a couple new faces this year with the departures of Titus Young and Austin Pettis. However, the Broncos return Tyler Shoemaker and Geraldo Boldwijn, both of whom have big game starting experience and should seamlessly fill the void left by Young and Pettis. Boldwijn averaged 14.5 yards per catch last year and started in the big games, taking the field at the beginning of the Virginia Tech game in DC. Shoemaker will also be lining up on the outside with Boldwijn and should help continue the great receiving tradition at BSU. The Mountain View High School product (MAVERICK PRIDE!) averaged 18.2 yards per catch last year and hauled in a respectable 5 TDs. Considering who he was sharing time with last year, that'ss not bad. Fiesta Bowl MVP Kyle Efaw also returns for his senior campaign. Efaw finished last year with 299 yards on 24 receptions, good for a 12.5 yards per catch average. He also had 5 touchdowns. Filling out the starting lineup at WR is the 5'9" 158lb Junior, Chris Potter. Potter saw spot duty last season and averaged 15.6 yards per catch, on 8 catches, and finding the end zone just once.
GEORGIA PASSING DEFENSE
The Bulldogs run a 3-4, starting the remaining four players in their secondary. Returning starters include Brandon Boykin at cornerback and Baccari Rambo at Safety. Boykin hauled in 3 interceptions last season in his first year as a starter, and Rambo is known as the big hitter in the backfield. The newcomers of the group are Sanders Commings at cornerback, and Shawn Williams at the other safety position. The Bulldog secondary allowed 180 yards per contest last season, ranking 16th nationally.
Georgia struggled in some sense against opposing QBs in 2010, giving up a 121.5 passer rating, ranking 44th in the country. With the new starters coming in you should expect the group to take a few games to jell. With the tough task of facing arguably the best quarterback in the country right out of the gate, they will probably struggle a bit to start the season.
ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE
BOISE STATE SCORING OFFENSE AND YARDS PER PLAY
Boise State was #2 nationally in scoring offense last year with 45.1 ppg, and #2 in yards per play with 7.5. With all the returning talent you can expect more of the same from the Broncos this year.
GEORGIA SCORING DEFENSE AND TOTAL DEFENSE
Georgia ranked 36th nationally in ppg last season, giving up 22.1. Also, the Bulldogs ranked 23rd in the country in yards per contest, giving up 328 yards on average per game.
ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE
WHEN GEORGIA HAS THE BALL
GEORGIA RUSH OFFENSE
The Dawgs struggled to run the ball last year, only averaging 143 ypg. This was good for a 73rd national ranking. Also, they only found the end zone 21 times in 2010, ranking 51st in the country as well. With the departures and suspensions of their top 3 returning contributers for this game, they will most likely have to rely on true freshman Isaiah Crowell to pound the rock against the outstanding Bronco D-line. While he is not listed as the starter as of now, i expect him to take the field for the first snap on September 3rd, as he is the most talented back the Dawgs have. The Dawgs run thin in terms of depth at this position for the opener, only suiting up 2 upperclassmen for the game, one of whom is a converted linebacker, Junior Richard Samuel. Samuel averaged 4.5 yards per carry last year, found the end zone twice and is listed as the starter right now. Another freshman, Ken Malcome could see some carries in this game.
The already thin depth at running back is looking as if it could become thinner and thinner. All three backs have suffered injuries in practice recently and have missed some time on the practice field. Malcome and Crowell are both suffering from groin injuries, while Samuel has suffered from a strained quad and is listed as day-to-day. The only healthy back the Dawgs have on scholarship is Carlton Thomas, but he is suspended for the game.
BOISE STATE RUSH DEFENSE
The Broncos were #4 in rushing yards per attempt last season, allowing 2.9 yards per carry. Constantly putting 6 and 7 guys in the box can have that effect on opposing running backs. The unit was also #7 in the nation with 103.7 yards per game. With numbers like these, its hard to deny that BSU knows how to shut down teams trying to run the ball. BSU returns 3 of their 4 starting defensive lineman from last season in Billy Winn, Chase Baker, and Shea McClellin. This trio averages 6'2" and 280lbs and finished the 2010 season with 3.7 sacks per game, good for the #1 ranking in the country. The Broncos' two starting linebackers will likely be some combination of Byron Hout, Aaron Tevis or J.C. Percy. Hout is 6'0" 240, Tevis is 6'3" 232 and Percy is 6'0" 217. These three helped produce the stellar numbers put up by the Broncos rush defense last season, and should expect to take a step forward this year.
ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE
GEORGIA PASS OFFENSE
Georgia has one of the best young quarterbacks in the country in Aaron Murray. The sophomore had a QB rating of 154.4 last year, ranking 14th in the country- outstanding considering he was only a freshman. Murray lacked in the accuracy department though, only hitting on 61% of his attempts, ranking 49th. However, he was great in yards per attempt, moving the ball down field an average of 8.9 yards every time he threw the ball, good for a #11 national ranking.
The receiving corps will feature the 6'1" 192 lb Tavarres King, a returning starter, and the 6'5" 222 lb Marion Brown. King averaged 18.7 yards per catch and hauled in 3 TDs last season, while Brown averaged 12.1 yards per catch and caught 1 TD. The TE will be the beastly 6'3" 241 lb Orsen Charles. Charles was an all-SEC freshman team selection last season, and should be a contender for the John Mackey Award, given out annually to the nation's best TE. The TE averaged 16.2 yards per catch last year on 26 receptions, with 2 TD's. Charles will be the Bulldogs biggest offensive weapon and will give the Broncos defense all they can handle in this game.
BOISE STATE PASS DEFENSE
With only 2 linebackers in their base defense, obviously the Broncos start five players in their secondary. Holdovers from last year include CB Jamar Taylor and FS George Iloka. Jerrell Gavins has made multiple starts in his career, and will hold down the sideline opposite Taylor. Newcomers this year have big shoes to fill. Former CB Brandon Thompson is now in the NFL, as is the Broncos leading tackler from the last three seasons, SS Jeron Johnson. Filling the voids left by Thompson and Johnson will be the previously mentioned Gavins at CB and senior Cedric Febis at SS. Filling in for the departed Winston Venable at the Nickel position will be Hunter White. The Broncos secondary allowed 150 yards per game last year, good for the 4th national ranking. Boise State also had the #2 defensive passer rating in the country last season, with a 95.1 clip. Expect more of the same from the shut-down passing attack from the boys in blue.
GEORGIA SCORING OFFENSE AND YARDS PER PLAY
Georgia was #30 nationally in scoring offense last year, allowing 32.1 ppg, and #24 in yards per play allowing 6.1. The passing game will be a huge threat against the young Bronco secondary. However, Georgia may have a hard time setting up the passing game, finding it extremely difficult to establish its running and play action passing attacks.
BOISE STATE SCORING DEFENSE AND TOTAL DEFENSE
Boise State was #2 nationally in scoring defense last year with 12.8 ppg and also #2 in yards per game with 254.7. Similarly to the offensive side of the ball, you can expect to see more of the same this year with all the holdovers coming back.
ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE
WHEN THE BALL IS TRADING HANDS
BOISE STATE KICKING GAME
The Broncos will be breaking in a new PK and P this season with the vacancies left by the infamous Kyle Brotzman. The departed Senior was the star of arguably the best (fake punt-pass against TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl) and worst (missed field goals against Nevada last year) moments in program history.
Filling the voids will be Freshman Dan Goodale at kicker, and Senior Brad Elkin at punter.
GEORGIA KICKING GAME
Doing the place-kicking UGA this year will be fourth year starter Blair Walsh. The Senior hit on %87 of his field goals last year and was 46 for 47 on extra points. Walsh should be a favorite to take home the Lou Groza Award this year, given out annually to the nation's best place kicker.
The Dawgs punter will be Senior and 3rd year starter Drew Butler.
BOISE STATE RETURN GAMES
Chris Potter will handle the punt returns this year, while Doug Martin will take care of the kickoffs. Potter recorded 22 returns in 2010, averaging 13 yards per return and finding the end zone one time. Martin has returned 16 kicks in his career and averaged 25.1 yards per return.
GEORGIA RETURN GAMES
The previously mentioned Brandon Boykin will be returning both punts and kickoffs this year. Boykin averaged 24 yards per return last year and had 1 TD on 34 kickoffs. The CB has not returned a punt yet in his college career.
ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE
CONCLUSION AND GAME PREDICTION
The size and speed issue normally facing a non-BCS against an SEC opponent will vanish with the improved recruiting in the recent year for Boise State. With seven returning starters, expect the Bronco offense to possibly have success moving the ball against the Bulldog defense. Georgia will have a difficult time establishing the run in this match up, and will have to rely heavily on the passing game. The Bronco defense should win this match up, also returning seven starters on the opposite side. If the Bulldog offense has to become one dimensional, and while they do excel through the air, this could create problems for the Dawgs. Only having one efficient way of moving the ball, Georgia could be at a huge disadvantage. This game should be a close for the first three quarters with Boise State pulling away at the end.
BOISE STATE 34 GEORGIA 20