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Every which way but Palouse: Boise State vs Washington State game preview

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Montana State v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Game facts

  • Time: Saturday, September 9, 8:30pm (MT)
  • Location: Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
  • Weather at kickoff: 68° and smoky
  • Odds: WSU by 10
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Mark “Bridget” Jones, Rod “Gilly” Gilmore, and Quint “Seriously, my name is ‘Quint’” Kessenich

Other facts

1. Pac it up, pac it in

Let me begin by saying that WSU should be a stiff challenge for the young Bronco defense. They handled their business against Troy, but the secondary will be tested time and again by Mike Leach’s Air Raid. IF the Broncos pull off the upset, it will be the 4th year in a row that they’ve beaten at least one Pac-12 foe

2. Aliens

WSU head coach Mike Leach—of the Mackinac Leaches—is known for being an interesting dude and a real straight-talker. Sometimes the talk is a little too straight—like last season when he let the world know that Tanner Vallejo had “kicked their asses”. This season, he’s waxing poetic about life on other planets:

“I don’t know that they’re little green men and I don’t know that they’re specifically in our galaxy,” Leach said of his belief in aliens. “Something about lightning strikes mud and it then sparks a beetle and all that other business.”

Sadly, he’s less convinced of the existence of Bigfoot.

3. Boise State QB controversy

There is none. Don’t be daft.

4. I can’t not post this gif

Streaks

Boise State - Won 1

WSU - Won 1

Stoked

Best name on their roster

Freshman linebacker Fa'avae Fa'avae is so nice they named him twice

Best player picture on their roster

Senior Offensive Lineman Cole Madison looks like a new WWE heel “Barbarian Businessman”

Players to watch

Luke Falk

Call this guy a “system quarterback” if it makes you feel better, but the former walk-on can sling it...and seeing as he’s in an Air Raid offense—will. Last season, Falk was a second-team All-Pac-12 pick and probably would’ve been a shoo-in for first-team had Jake Browning not being doing good things just up the road from Pullman. Falk threw for 4,468 yards and 38 TDs (11 INTs) a season ago and as you may recall, threw the ball a ridiculous 71 times against the Broncos last year in Boise. The senior was a finalist for the Manning Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Burlsworth Trophy, and made it to the semifinalist stage for the Maxwell, O'Brien,and Walter Camp Awards. We won't see a better QB this season, so our young secondary needs to be on their best behavior (and yes, I know we play Josh Allen again).

Hercules Mata’afa

The junior defensive end isn't huge (6'2" 252 lbs) but he makes up for it with GRIT. He was an All-Pac-12 second-teamer last season after finishing fifth in the conference with 13.5 tackles-for-loss and a team-high 5 sacks. This season, he's off to a fair start...recording 1.5 sacks amongst 5 tackles in WSU's opener against Montana State.

Cole Madison

The giant (6'5" 315 lbs) tackle was All-Pac-12 honorable mention a season ago and Pro Football Focus named him to its second team All-America lineup for 2016. The homegrown colossus received the "Bone Award" (I'm too afraid to ask) following Pac-12 tilts against UCLA, Arizona, and Cal last season.

Jamal Morrow

The 5’9” 203 lb. senior RB is coming off an honorable mention All-Pac-12 season where he led the team with 1,217 all-purpose yards and 10 TDs. He's as close to a "weapon" type back as the Cougars have as his yardage is split fairly evenly between rushing and receiving. The Broncos shut down his rushing attempts a season ago in Boise, but he scored 2 receiving TDs for the Cougs that night—nearly allowing WSU complete their comeback. Nearly.

Peyton Pelluer

The senior LB was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention last season after starting all 13 games for the Cougars and finishing fourth in the league in tackles with 93. Last season against the Broncos, he made six stops and most importantly, he kind of has one of those top-knot man-bun sort of things going, so he's a tough tackler, but you know he's also a super chill bro.

Players NOT to watch

The Cougs return plenty of pieces from what was a pretty formidable team in 2016, but thankfully Gabe Marks and Shalom Luani aren’t among them. Luani had 2 picks against the Broncos last season and Marks had 75 receiving yards in Boise as well.

Keys to victory

  • Win the turnover battle. The Broncos flirted with losing this battle on Saturday, but at the last-minute decided not to tempt fate. It would be bad to lose this to WSU on Saturday.
  • Mix it up. The Bronco offense was rather vanilla on Saturday and I think they need to be a bit bolder (and a bit trickier) this weekend. Also, after promising to ride the hot hand in the run game...the Broncos switched RBs almost every snap. Look at the numbers and tell me that Ryan Wolpin should be getting as many snaps as Mattison. I’ll wait.
  • Don't lose. It worked last season. Why not in 2017?

Score prediction

Maaan...this is going to be a tough game. If the Broncos offense isn’t better they’ll be hard-pressed to keep pace with a fine offensive football team. The defense should play well, but they can only do so much. We’re a homer site, so I’ll predict a close Bronco win...but you don’t wanna hear what my head thinks.

Boise State 28, Washington State 24