More than a year ago, Colin Kaepernick, Luke Lippincott, and the Nevada Wolf Pack took the Broncos to quadruple overtime in a 69-67 shootout that left the Boise State defense exposed and Bronco fans with the night sweats.
On Saturday, the Utah State Aggies will try to do the same ... only less competitively.
No one would blame you for connecting the dots between 2007 Nevada and 2008 Utah State. Many of the same factors in Nevada's nailbiter against the Broncos are there with Utah State. QB Diondre Borel is a running quarterback in the mold of Colin Kaepernick. Some consider the Aggies a dangerous team, and they're coming in as big underdogs. Taylor Tharp will probably be in attendance. It's like deja vu all over again.
Except this time, the end result should be much different. We came up with 10 reasons why there will be no repeat of the 69-67 outcome from last year's Nevada debacle, although you could pretty much just read number one and ten and know all you need to know.
1. Improvement: The Bronco defense of 2008 is not the Bronco defense of 2007
In so many ways the 2008 Bronco defense is better than last year's. There is more depth, more skill at every position, and they play together as a team better than, perhaps, any Bronco defense in the history of the school. Plus, they have shown again and again that they can stop running quarterbacks. Southern Miss' Austin Davis had five rushing touchdowns last week against UAB. He did nothing against the Broncos. Ditto for Inoke Funaki, Chris Harper, Anthony Turner, and Kyle Reed. Who's to say that Diondre Borel's day will go any differently?
Nevada had over 630 yards of total offense against the Broncos last season. By comparison, this year's Boise State "D" is allowing just over 275 yards per game. Yikes, for the Aggies.
2. Tradition: The last three times they've played, the Broncos have outscored the Aggies 146-31
Boise State owns a lot of teams. But they really own Utah State.The Aggies have never really been close to the Broncos ever since USU joined the WAC. Nevada was at least always somewhat of a threat, but Utah State has always been a joke. When you consistently get blown out by another team, it has to weigh on your psyche, provided Utah State has any psyche left.
3. Brent Guy: Brent Guy
His comments about Kellen Moore earlier in the week show that Brent Guy just simply doesn't get it. If he did, he might not be 8-36 at Utah State.The drop-off from Coach Pete to Guy is at least twice as long as the drop-off from Coach Pete to Nevada coach Chris Ault. The coaching disparity is simply too much to overcome for the Aggies on Saturday. The Brent Guy Sideline Face (think "bewilderment twinged with constipation") will be out in full force.
4. Prominence: Noon on KTVB is slightly less appealing than Sunday on ESPN
It's hard to get geeked up for a game that will be broadcast locally in near public-access quality. Mark Johnson and Tom Scott just do not carry the same weight as Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman. With last year's game being a Sunday night contest on ESPN, the Wolf Pack had extra motivation to get out there and make a name for themselves. All the Aggies have to hope for is that they not look frumpy on the KTVB digital broadcast.
5. Videotape: Diondre Borel is not new to anyone
The Utah State quarterback has been the full-time starter for three games this season, and he has appeared in many more. Last year, Colin Kaepernick was a relative unknown after filling in for injured starter Nick Graziano. The Broncos only had a chance to study Kaepernick the week before against Fresno State before they saw him in person on the blue. At this point, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox probably knows what Borel eats for breakfast (Cap'n Crunch in his underoos?).
6. Completion: Third down conversions not an Aggie specialty
Against the Broncos, Nevada converted on 11 of 17 third down attempts, keeping many of their scoring drives alive. Good luck matching that, Aggies. Utah State ranks dead last in the conference in third down completion percentage. They convert just over 1/4 of their third down attempts, and their average first downs per game puts them second-to-last in the WAC. But those three-yard gains on second down sure are a specialty.
7. Congeniality: Diondre Borel does not hate Boise State the way Colin Kaepernick does
There's something wrong with Colin Kaepernick, like, mentally. He hates Boise State for some reason, and he saves his best games for the Broncos. We're pretty sure that this is not the case for Diondre Borel, simply because it is impossible to hate the Broncos more than Kaepernick does. Too bad for the Aggies, because it seems that personal vendetta might be the most effective skill against Boise State.
8. Singularity: The Aggies are a one-man team
Take away Diondre Borel, and you have the Aggies of old. Borel is the only thing keeping this team from being winless on the season, and without him, Utah State is nothing. Borel leads the team in rushing by a longshot, and none of the skill players on offense instill anything resembling fear in the opposition. Ellis Powers, you know what to do!
9. Bowl eligibility: Nevada was working towards it; Utah State isn't
The Wolf Pack figured that they would probably have a chance at a decent season by the time they faced the Broncos last year. Utah State essentially has been playing spoiler from the get-go. Only driven teams tend to have success against Boise State (see, 2007 Hawaii), and Utah State has never been mistaken for a driven team.
10. Come on. It's Utah State.