Final pregame thoughts on Boise State versus Toledo

As per my regular gameday ritual, I am deep in the throes of worry and hope and fear and xx about tonight's Boise State game. The comment thread for the Broncos-Rockets will open up at 4:00, and I'll be by afterward for a recap. But until then, nerves. Join me after the jump as I vent my feelings, and feel free to share your last-minute thoughts in the comments.

What tonight's game will tell us ...

We'll learn a lot of things tonight (like how to neuter a spread offense), but what I'm most interested in finding out is this: how good is the 2011 Boise State football team?

Here's a theory I use: To find out whether a team is great or not, watch how they play against lesser competition.

Great teams destroy bad teams. I'm not saying that Toledo is bad, but I do think that Bronco fans feel the Rockets are a far inferior opponent. And for that reason, I believe that tonight will tell us more about how great this year's Bronco team is than the Georgia game told us. If Boise State blows Toledo out of the water, the Broncos are elite. If Boise State wins in a close one, the Broncos are still very good. If Toledo wins, Jesus has come back and you all better get your stuff together.

But don't take my word for it. The experts at Football Outsiders think a Bronco blowout would be a feat of strength, too.

The first two Friday night features have been spectacular games as well, so keep an eye on Boise State's trip to Toledo. The Rockets almost pulled off a major upset in Columbus last week and can keep this one within a couple of scores if they remain disciplined. Boise State won't get much poll credit if they thrash Toledo, but I'll be impressed if it gets completely out of hand in their favor.

Impressed, then bored. That's my kind of football.

I interrupt this column for a breaking news bulletin from former Bronco safety Gerald Alexander

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You may now resume normal reading.

X Factors for tonight's game, or things I have overlooked until now

Looking through the Toledo roster, I have a hard time digging up anyone who can be a difference-maker tonight other than the main characters - Eric Page, Adonis Thomas, Siamese QB twin Austin Terrance Dantin-Owens.

So how about looking at it from a new angle? Are there any players on the Boise State roster who might play the role of anthropomorphic self-destruct buttons? Safety was an option, until the NCAA freed Cedric Febis. I'll let reader FrmrBronco explain :

Toledo would be smart to put Page in the slot and work the deep middle of our D. If that's the case I hope Kwiatkowski and Yates aren't too proud to let Gavins man him up on occasion and put another DB on the outside (covering the X or Y)....Iloka and Ioane are going to have their work cut out for em.

Now this may all be moot since Febis traveled with the team to Ohio and, since he's been practicing all along, should be game-fit to start tonight. Crisis averted. Breathing resumed.

College Gameday asking questions it already knows the answer to

College-gameday-tweet_medium 

Allow me to bogart some comments

OBNUG readers have as good a grasp on the Boise State football team as anyone, and here now are some choice comments from the week in OBNUG commenting.

From howiestheman

I'm in no way, shape or form overlooking Toledo (mostly cuz I watched last week's game), but i'm just not overly concerned. Having 12 days to recover is going to work hugely in our favor. I have all the faith in the world in our coaches and players.

Boise State's 12 days of rest compared to Toledo's six days will definitely be a factor. I imagine that Bronco players take a similar approach to tonight's game: Fully aware of Toledo's talent yet wholly confident in the Broncos' gameplan.

From smurfturfer:

I don't necessarily share the same confidence others share (over at half), but after watching Boise dispatch the Georgia Bulldogs, it is going to take a huge meltdown by Boise and a herculean effort by Toledo for Boise not to win. We will win by 17.

Follow-up by kcam:

"huge meltdown by boise" - Not gonna happen with Kellen. Not gonna happen with the D. I see Toledo getting some yards off their passing game. The running game? Guffaw. Take out the 80 yarder last game and the dawgs total running yardage was 51. Nota bene: Boykin will not be suiting up Fri.

I will give Toledo this: If the Rockets break off an 80-yarder against the Broncos, Toledo coach Tim Beckman will be smart enough to come back to the play over and over again until BSU stops it. 

From BSU Guru:

Yeah Toledo may be better this year, but so is Boise State.

I sure hope Guru's right. I think we'll know our answer by the fourth quarter tonight (and hopefully by halftime). To say that the 2011 team is better than the 2010 team is saying a lot.

From Kelly G.:

Dairy Queen would be the LAST place I would go for "good fast food".

Bulletin board material!

Miscellaneous

  • Coach Pete's favorite stats, according to Tom Scott: Turnover margin, pass efficiency rating, and sack margin. If the Broncos top the Rockets in all three tonight, I see no way that Toledo can win.
  • Here's a stat you will see at least once tonight: Toledo is 4-0 all-time versus Top 25 opponents at home.
  • Here's what the ESPN broadcast won't tell you about the above stat: It doesn't matter. Past performance does not necessarily predict future results. Also, correlation does not equal causation. And, a penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Is the city of Toledo really as stoked for this game as people say they are? The game wasn't even a sellout at mid-week, which is a shock for a well-respected team hosting the highest-ranked opponent in Glass Bowl history. Also, did you guys know there was a Star Wars Blu-Ray?

Toledo-blade_medium 

  • I take comfort knowing that games like these are ones that Boise State usually dominates. We don't know how this year's team will respond in situations like this, but I'd say we have quite a body of evidence to feel confident.
  • Go Broncos!

Your turn

How are you feeling about tonight's game? Nervous? Confident? Think Boise State is a great team and will blow out the Rockets? Think my "great team" theory is bunk? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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