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San Diego is not a state: Boise State vs SDSU game preview

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NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Game facts

  • Time: Saturday, October 14, 8:30pm (MT)
  • Location: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
  • Weather at kickoff: 67° clear
  • Odds: SDSU by 7
  • TV: CBS Sports Network
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Carter “Blackeye” Blackburn, Aaron “Mute button” Taylor, and Jenny “From the block” Dell

Other facts

1. Long in the tooth

The 67-year-old Rocky Long thinks Boise State no longer has a mystique and dammit, I think he’s right (although it took a few years for his pronouncement to ring true). Of course, mystiques are a fickle thing and the Broncos could find theirs again with a win over the 18th ranked Aztecs...and then Rocky can find some Aspercreme for his aching bones.

2. In for a Penny, in for a pound

Speaking of mystiques vanishing...the Bronco run game has all but done so this season...an extremely strange occurrence given the Broncos propensities. However, SDSU has no such problem even after losing all-time NCAA rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey. Senior RB Rashaad Penny currently ranks 2nd in the NCAA with 993 rushing yards and wait...Hawaii has the NCAA’s 3rd leading rusher? What is life?

3. Workin’ 3-3-5

The Aztecs will bring Long’s semi-whacky 3-3-5 defense to bear on Saturday night, and historically...it has confounded the Broncos. It’s certainly a “risk-reward” defense, but creates pressure from enough angles that BSU’s offensive line will have to have their best game of the year to keep the pocket clean. Sounds fun.

4. Take it away, Ron

Streaks

Boise State - Won 1

SDSU - Won 6 (8 dating to last season)

Streeps

Best name on their roster

I’m going to go with junior linebacker Ronley Lakalaka

Best player picture on their roster

I have nothing but respect for OL Joe Salcedo’s beard

Players to watch

Rashaad Penny

This is Penny’s first season as starter at San Diego State, but he’s obviously making the most of it with 993 yards and 9 TDS already under his belt. Despite this being Penny’s first season as RB1, this will be his second 1,000 yard season as he accomplished the task last season with only 135 touches (7.4 YPC average). Oh, and he was a 2016 All-MWC first-teamer as a special teams performer. This dude can do it all. Darn.

Christian Chapman

San Diego State is not known for their QBs...but with the running game they’ve had the last few years, no one really cares. They’ve had guys under center that manage the game and don’t turn the ball over, and that’s exactly what Chapman has given them this season with 7 TDs and just 1 INT. If you want to find a small flaw in Chapman’s game—he’s sackable. He was dropped in the backfield 28 times last season and has already been sacked 14 times in 2017.

Mikah Holder

As you might expect, the Aztecs haven’t felt much need to throw with Rashaad Penny running roughshod over defenses...but when they do pass, there’s a better than average chance that Mr. Holder will be targeted...especially since he’s coming off his best performance of the season—a 9 catch, 144 yard outing against UNLV. at 6’0” 195 lbs., the senior wideout isn’t big, but his game has potential to be.

Kameron Kelly

The senior corner is having himself a year, and it would behoove Rypien to not throw the ball to him. Through 6 games, Kelly has 32 tackles, 2 sacks (toldja that pressure came from everywhere, 2 PBUs, 2 INTs, and a forced fumble. He’s no Damontae Kazee, but he’s not far off.

David Wells

The senior tight-end was a 2016 second-team All-MWC pick after amassing 294 receiving yards and four TDs. He was responsible for this season’s game-winner against Stanford and while he doesn’t get a ton of targets, they are meaningful ones—he has 2 TDs in just six receptions this year.

John Baron II

The junior kicker was an All-MWC first-teamer a season ago and a Groza Award Semifinalist to boot (get it, to boot?). He was 56-of-58 on PATs last season and 21-of-23 on FG attempts. This year, he’s off to another good start, hitting 10 of his 12 attempts. If they get moderately close, Baron can usually do the rest.

Players NOT to watch

The Aztecs graduated a boatload of all-conference performers among them Donnel Pumphrey, O-lineman Nico Siragusa, DL Alex Barrett, LB Calvin Munson, and 2016 MWC Defensive Player of the Year Damontae Kazee—yet they may be better this year. Life is strange.

Keys to victory

  • Stop the run. I expect the Broncos will sell out to stop the Aztec ground game and I think they’re up to the task (well, at least limiting a monster game from Penny)...however...
  • Play disciplined football on defense. The last few meetings between the Broncos and Aztecs have seen the Broncos get burned in somewhat unconventional ways...via special teams and specifically tight end play. We know they’re going to try to run...but what are they going to throw at us when we stack the box? Don’t let the TEs run free and keep an eye on guys slipping into the secondary.
  • Win the field position battle. This was big against BYU. If the Broncos can get a lead and make the run-first Aztec offense have to sustain long drives to beat them, it will bode well.
  • Don't lose. When it works, it works.

Score prediction

I never do this (seriously, go check)...but hey, I whiffed big time on UVA, so maybe I’ll have egg on my face for this one as well

San Diego State 27, Boise State 20