Boise State is coming off a huge actual win against Georgia. Toledo is coming off a huge moral win against Ohio State. Storylines abound.
What will Boise State do to handle Eric Page? Can the Toledo defense do anything to stop Kellen Moore? Is the Glass Bowl literally made of glass? I share some answers to these questions and keys to the game after the jump. Feel free to help me out in the comments.
No. 4 Boise State vs. Toledo
- When to watch: Friday, September 16, 6:00 MT kickoff
- Where to watch: Glass Bowl, Toledo, Oh. (Capacity: 26,248)
- How to watch: Live on ESPN with Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore, and Jeannine Edwards
- What to wager: Boise State by 20.5 points, combined score over/under 58.5 points
- What to wear: Partly cloudy, high of 65, zero chance of precipitation
Keys to the game
There has likely been a great deal more weeping and gnashing of teeth in Bronco Nation's pregame preparations this week thanks to Toledo's ambush of Ohio State in the Big Horseshoe. The Rockets' narrow loss to the Buckeyes may have been the greatest thing that could have happened to the Broncos. It makes sure BSU will not overlook Toledo (also doing that job: having Coach Pete as a coach), and it makes for an awfully tough turnaround for the Rockets. Boise State had 12 days to recuperate after a dominating win over Georgia. Toledo will have had five days to catch their breath.
Now I'm not sure how much (if any) impact last week should have or will have on Friday's game. Past results don't always predict future performance. The players on the field and the schemes for those players are what will make the difference. So in that vein, have you seen this Eric Page fella? The Toledo receiver-returner is clearly UT's biggest weapon, a howitzer on a team of mid-range assault rifles. There are a couple schools of thought on Page. School #1: Stop Eric Page, and you stop the Toledo offense. Makes sense. QBs Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens can make some plays, and Adonis Thomas is your token sturdy MAC running back. But Page is the true playmaker.
And now for School #2, as brought to you by OBNUG commenter D_Summit:
Reminds me of my San Antonio Spurs from 2003-2007. They were perennially one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, yet Kobe Bryant would regularly have huge games against the Spurs. Coach Pop's strategy was to never double-team Kobe, instead making him beat the Spurs by himself. Kobe's teammates would be shut down by the Spurs' team defense, Bruce Bowen would make him work hard for his points, and the Lakers would lose, which makes everyone happy.
So in other words, don't be surprised if Eric Page gets 400 all-purpose yards and Toledo loses by a 60-burger.
After the Toledo - Ohio State game, I quizzed OBNUG's ESPN subscribers on what the Broncos might expect with this Rocket team. The short answer: Boise State's defense will have no trouble with the Toledo offense and Kellen Moore is an immortal (I may have paraphrased that last part). So like all games, this one seems like it will come down to a battle at the line of scrimmage, a line that Billy Winn, Shea McClellin, and friends have owned squatter's rights on for quite some time.
Kellen Moore and the Boise State offense will get their points, at least 28 of them and probably more. Can Toledo keep up? I think that will be the question on Friday night, and despite putting the fear of God into the Buckeyes, the Rockets might not come up with an answer they'll like. Boise State is no Ohio State, and I mean that in a good way.
Miscellaneous keys for Boise State
- Score touchdowns instead of field goals. Two reasons: 1) I have yet been able to buy all the Pepto in the world for when Dan Goodale or Michael Frisina start attempting field goals, and 2) Boise State can bury Toledo in a pile of touchdowns and make this game a breeze if they do it in a hurry. If the Broncos let the Rockets hang close by going up 12-0 or 15-0 or some score divisible by three, the Toledo fans will stay in the game, the Toledo offense won't panic, and Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore will have to cancel those 9:00 dinner plans. Do not deny Joe and Rod their Ruth's Chris Steak House.
- Better communication in the secondary. Georgia's two long touchdown passes were obvious blown coverages, the type which usually appear in flag football games when I am moved out to cover corner for some inexplicable reason. Fix it.
- Do not panic. This goes for Bronco fans, too. If the game is close for longer than the team expects it to be (always a possibility when you play on the road), just keep things cool. No worries. The Toledo defense is like a crawfish feed. Once you figure out how to crack it, it's delicious seafood for everyone!
- Limit big plays on special teams. That Eric Page fella is squirrely, and have you ever tried to tackle a squirrel? It's harder than it sounds.
- Win the turnover battle. /obligatory mention
- Win the field position game. This one is not required for winning, but it would sure help. Kellen Moore could go 99 yards all day in his sleep LEFT-HANDED, so if he gets the type of head start he got against Georgia, this one will be one-sided.
- Wrap-up on defense. Particularly, wrap-up Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens when you have a chance.
Miscellaneous keys for Toledo
- Do that QB thing you do. The Rockets rotate two quarterbacks seamlessly, and it appears to work for them. So do you go with the hot hand on Friday night? Will there be any hot hands? You'd have to ask a Toledo expert for the answer to the former (my answer to the latter: No way, Jose), but I say that you should go with what got you here. Too often teams abandon ship on strategies and gameplans when they fall behind against BSU. Even though I am vigorously opposed to a quarterback time share, I think keeping the status quo might be good for UT.
- Win the turnover battle. /obligatory mention
- Make the Boise State offense one-dimensional.
- Convert on 3rd down. At least 60 percent..
- Avoid costly penalties. The Rockets had 14 calls against them versus Ohio State. That's a lot.
- Find a weakness on the Boise State D. And when you do, let me know. I've been looking for one forever.
Other things that may matter
- Toledo has several key players either out or questionable with injuries. Those guys include: CB Taikwon Paige (questionable), LB Robert Bell (out), LB Dan Molls (out).
- The consensus among readers for why I shouldn't lose sleep over Toledo's narrow loss to Ohio State was this: Ohio State sucks wind. OK, I'm convinced! Nap time.
- A match-up to watch: Toledo RB Adnois Thomas (111 receiving yards against Ohio State) versus Boise State's ferris wheel of linebackers. I don't doubt that Boise State can stop the run, but can they keep the running back in check in the passing game?
- Toledo is an experienced, senior-laden team. That's usually good for a couple points.
How do you think Boise State will do against Toledo on Friday? What are your keys to the game? Which school of thought do you fall in with Eric Page? Share your thoughts in the comments.