- Time: Saturday, 5pm MT
- Location: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY
- Weather at kickoff: 60°, partly cloudy
- Odds: Boise State by 13.5
- TV: CBS Sports Network
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM
- Commentators: Rich "Get Richer" Waltz, Adam "Archie" Archuleta, Cassie "I'm drawing a blank" McKinney
1. Bohl has 'em bowling
Craig Bohl had a pretty sweet gig at North Dakota State, where he helped pilot the Bison to back-to-back-to-back national titles between 2011 and 2013. Of course, he left FCS stardom in 2014 to take the reins in Laramie, Wyoming for reasons I can't quite comprehend (he likes cold and windy places?). It's been challenging for Bohl, as you might expect, and he's guided the Cowboys to just 6 wins in his first two years at the helm. However, in year 3 of the Bohl regime, he has things humming a bit Laramie...and his Cowboys are just one win away from bowl eligibility and matching his win total from his first two forgettable seasons. The Cowboys are playing for more than just the division lead and a marquee win this Saturday as you can see...but I'd be content to let them lock up bowl eligibility next week.
2. Rushin' roulette
Who ordered the top-ten running back showdown? Anyone? Well, it's here and you're going to see the nation's second-leading rusher—Wyoming's Brian Hill—versus the nation's 6th leading rusher—Boise State's Jeremy McNichols, this Saturday so get used to the idea. Hill is coming off his finest game of the season—a 289 yard outburst against Nevada, and McNichols is recuperating from a 249 all-purpose yard game against BYU. It should probably be noted that Nevada has the 122nd ranked rush defense in the country while BYU has the nation's 31st best rush defense...but let's not quibble over such intricacies! By the way, did you know the Mountain West has 4 of the top 10 rushers in the country at this very moment? The Air Raid conference we ain't.
3. Turnover time
On paper, this doesn't look like a great matchup for the Cowboys (123rd ranked pass defense, for starters), yet several pundits have picked them to upset the Broncos this Saturday? Why would that be—aside from getting into grandpa's "cough medicine"? Well, one thing is that the Cowboys are tied for 16th in the country in turnovers gained, with 15 through 7 games. The Broncos turnover woes have been well-documented, and a bit of a statistical anomaly for a 7-0 team. We aren't coughing the ball up at an alarming rate (even though many were alarmed last week against BYU), but we aren't generating turnovers either. If turnover margin stays in our opponents' column too many times, it's bound to bite us sooner or later. Oh, and the Cowboys are tied for 2nd in the nation in defensive TDs—another stat that is a bit spooky a week after giving up 2 defensive scores to the Cougars.
4. Cowboy Ken or Cowboy Keg?
Wyoming folk. So like us.
Boise State - Won 9
Wyoming - Won 3
Best name on their roster
I'm going to go with freshman DT Youhanna Ghaifan
Best player picture on their roster
Sophomore guard (and Meridian product) Richard Bettencourt is the mane man.
Players to watch
Another week, another Hill to contend with. Although, I think this Hill is a bit more scary than the knee-ligamentless one we saw last week. The junior RB is definitely a load at 6'1" 219 lbs but he's also got impressive speed. He ran over, around, and through Nevada defenders last weekend and is averaging 7.1 YPC in conference so far this year. Hill will face a stiffer rush D this week, but if our guys miss tackles...he's not looking back. If you'd like a ray of hope here, Hill rushed for 188 yards last season against Nevada and just 76 the following week in Boise. As a freshman, he went for 281 against Fresno State and 2 weeks later mustered just 65 yards against the Broncos. Methinks he'll get some yardage, but he won't be getting ALL the yardage.
The sophomore signal-caller hasn't done anything amazingly well for the Cowboys this year—he's completing about 58% of his passes for 1,339 yards, 10 TDs and 6 INTs...but he does enough things well that he can manage the game well if the Cowboys get the lead. He throws a reasonably pickable ball, but the Broncos haven't been great at capitalizing on such things, so Allen (who can also run a bit) is sort of a wild card. Allen has thrown 8 of his 10 TDs at home this year and none of his INTs.
The senior WR is having himself a fantastic year for the Cowboys, with 612 yards and 5 TDs to his name. For reference, Boise State's Thomas Sperbeck has 810 yards and 7 TDs. Not as big a chasm as you might think (although Sperbeck has reached his total with just 9 more receptions). If the Broncos can shut down Hill and Gentry, it's bound to be a looong night in Laramie. Well, they kinda all are I suspect.
The sophomore free safety was a Freshman All-American last season after leading the conference in solo tackles (6.9 per contest) and also ranking number 2 in the conference in total tackles (122). Again, Wingard is off to a torrid pace, racking up 75 total tackles through 7 games and looks poised to repeat in the accolade category. He has 1 forced fumble and 1 INT on the year, so he's more than just a coin-operated tackling dummy.
Players NOT to watch
DE Carl Granderson was lost for the season to a torn ACL and it's a shame because he was having a very soid true sophomore season. Granderson had 4 sacks and a forced fumble before being injured in Wyoming's win against Air Force. Right Tackle Ryan Cummings also will be a no-go vs Boise State which is welcome news to Boise State's defensive ends.
Keys to victory
- Win the turnover battle. Man alive...we really tested this one last week, didn't we? Let's not do that again on the road against a team that's recently found loads of confidence, mmkay?
- Stop the run. Without Hill (and a smidgen of scrambling by Allen), Wyoming becomes pretty one-dimensional. This is a major key.
- Get the early lead...hold on to it. The Broncos have elected to receive the opening kickoff in every contest this year and showed why last week when they jumped on BYU early before gifting momentum back to the visiting Cougs. When they jump on run-first teams early, it takes them out of their game plan (ala UNM), and since Bohl's squads love to run the ball down opponents' throats, Saturday would be an ideal time to do this.
- Don't lose. We have flirted with doing the inverse of this the last two weeks. Cut it out.
Boise State 42, Wyoming 20