Boise State and Utah State wrap up the regular season on Saturday (1:00p.m. MT, KTVB) with what could be a very long game for the Aggies. It could get ugly fast, or ugly slow, depending on how the Broncos come out.
That is one of this week's big questions - how the Broncos respond to last week's loss. Not only that, but how many Bronco fans will turn out? These questions and more are brought up after the jump. Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.
Utah State vs. No. 11 Boise State
- When to watch: Saturday, December 4, 1:00 p.m. MT kickoff
- Where to watch: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Ida. (Capacity: 33,500)
- How to watch: Live on the WAC Sports Network (available on KTVB) with Dave Harbison and Joe Glenn
- What to wager: Boise State by 38 points, combined score over/under 62.5 points
- What to wear: Forecast calls for snow showers, 38 degrees
Three storylines to watch
Typically three matchups appear in this space, but life's too short to break down matchups against a Utah State football team. Besides, I think these storylines are of more interest anyway.
How does Boise State respond to last week's loss? i.e., Blowout City or Letdownsville
Last week's loss was the kind of loss that sits with you for awhile, certainly longer than eight days and sometimes as long an entire offseason. That said, losses like that can also inspire great feats of strength. Like beating Utah State by a bajillion points.
I am leaning toward the latter happening on Saturday. Though there isn't much past precedence to go off as far as Boise State regular season losses, I have a hard time seeing this Boise State team come out sluggish. They have plenty to play for like pride, Senior Day, and a WAC championship. If they come out slow, it's because Michael Coughlin is starting at quarterback, but that's nothing a mid-first-quarter QB switch won't fix.
Boise State will never play a WAC game again as long as the WAC lives
I think it goes without saying that it would be appropriate for Boise State to leave the WAC on a winning note. With the Broncos moving to the Mountain West next season, Saturday ends a decade-plus of complete and utter conference dominance the likes of which has never been seen before in college football.
Will Boise State fans show up or pack it in?
Perhaps the most open-ended storyline on Saturday will be how fans react to last week's loss and the supposed loss of any and all BCS hopes. Personally, I would be glad to see fairweather fans go, but at the same time, I really hope that the stadium hasn't been half-full with fairweather fans all along.
For Boise State:
- D.J. Harper out for season (knee)
- Tommy Gallarda out for regular season (foot)
- Byron Hout out for regular season (foot)
- Tyler Shoemaker probable with unknown
- Faraji Wright questionable with unknown
What Utah State can do to win
The Aggies' hopes hinge on two possibilities: Boise State coming out flat and/or Diondre Borel playing lights out. I'd put the odds on the former happening at about absolute zero percent, but that's the homer in me talking. Borel's performance on Saturday is a little more unknown. He had really no success two years ago when he visited Bronco Stadium, but he showed flashes against the Broncos last season and has the athletic ability to make a play at any given moment.
What Utah State can do to lose
If the Aggies cannot get RB Derrvin Speight going, the USU offense will be in trouble. I'll say Speight needs 100 yards or more, which would have seemed impossible against the Boise State defense two weeks ago but is slightly more plausible after last week's Nevada showing. But don't bet on it.
The key to Nevada's defensive success last week was getting Boise State off the field on 3rd down. If the Aggies let the Broncos convert 60 percent of their 3rd downs, they won't stand a chance of keeping BSU from cracking 50 points.
What Boise State can do to win
Show up. Play with passion. Make tackles. Catch passes. Jump out to an early lead, and never look back.
What Boise State can do to lose
As I mentioned above, coming out flat and letting Diondre Borel run around unimpeded are two ways to make this one a lot closer than it needs to be. I'll go ahead and throw in penalties, too. When a team has such a distinct physical and talent advantage over another team, even coming out flat may not be enough to cost them the game. But an emotional letdown could very well show up in discipline and concentration, which would obviously lead to penalties. If they are drive-killing penalties, that could hurt the Broncos.
- Turnovers. I mentioned this in yesterday's BIFFF, but it has been just amazing how little turnovers have mattered in the final outcome of Bronco games this year. Boise State could probably be a -4 on Saturday and still win by four touchdowns.
- Weather. How much fun would a Senior Day snow game be? Well, probably not that much fun for Cali-born-and-bred Austin Pettis.
How do you think the Broncos will react to last week's loss? Will fans show up to the game to show support? Do you see any way that USU pulls this one out? Share your thoughts in the comments.