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Spartan Spirit: Boise State vs San José State game preview

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 San Jose State at UNLV Photo by: Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game facts

  • Time: Saturday, Nov. 28, 2:05pm
  • Location: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
  • Weather at kickoff: 40°, mostly sunny
  • Odds: Boise by 11.5
  • TV: FOX (the big guy)
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Tim “Marlon” Brando, Spencer “Gifts” Tillman

Other facts

1. Spartan surge

Last season, the Spartans of San José State finished just 5-7...not a successful season unless you’re...well, the San José State Spartans. The not-quite-over-the-hump Spartans had the MWC Offensive Player of the Year (Josh Love)...a thousand-yard receiver (Tre Walker), beat an SEC team (Arkansas) on the road, knocked off Fresno State to end the season AND made the eventual MWC champion Broncos sweat (like, A LOT). This season, they may not have Josh Love, but they appear to be over the aforementioned hump. The Spartans are 4-0 for the first time since the Eisenhower administration (seriously). Coach Brent Brennan appears to have a well-rounded squad too, as they held Air Force to just 6 points in a win to start their year and knocked off west division stalwart San Diego State a couple of weeks ago. Beaten dogs eventually bite. Do not sleep on this Spartan squad, folks.

2. Unexpected BYE

Not only are the Spartans believing in themselves like a rag-tag bunch of sandlot handball players...they’ll come into Boise well-rested after an unexpected (well, is anything REALLY unexpected this year) BYE week after their tilt against Fresno State was canceled last weekend. Let’s hope that they filled their BYE week with too many carbs and sort of just spaced the whole “getting prepared” thing.

3. Network n00bs

This will be the first Boise State game to air on network TV since the 2014 MWC Championship game (which the Broncos won, btw). I can only assume this is the first San José State game to air on network TV since it served as a fitting prelude to the Howdy Doody Show. BTW, if you had taken the “Boise State vs San José State on NATIONAL FOX” prop-bet at the beginning of the year, please come forward and claim your one million dollars.

4. Pretty, pretty goooood

Streaks

Boise State - Won 2

San José State - Won 5

Leeks

Best name on their roster

I can’t decide between the righteous Isaiah Holiness, the calling card of Rico Tolefree, and the generally SEC vibe of TE Billy Bob Humphreys

Best picture on their roster

Senior linebacker Christian Webb is a BIG Flock of Seagulls fan

Players to watch

Nick Starkel, QB

The former SEC slinger (Texas A&M and Arkansas) has found new life in San José this season, and is so far hitting 70 percent of his passes and flirting with 1,000 yards (despite barely playing against San Diego State). Through just 4 games, Starkel has 9 TDs (UNM game really padded ALL the stats) and just 2 INTs. Maybe more impressive (to me, anyway)...he’s only been sacked twice this season.

Bailey Gaither, WR

The 6’1” senior has been having a mighty fine season and leads all other Spartans with 432 receiving yards and 4 TDs. If you’re keeping track, that means he’s averaging over 100 yards per contest—a respectable average if I do say so.

Tre Walker, WR

Putting a second Spartan wideout on this list because of his glorious past. Thankfully, Walker and Starkel aren’t on the same wavelength as Walker and Love because last season, Walker nearly had 200 receiving yards against the Broncos (that’s bad). This season, Walker has fallen to earth a bit with just 265 yards in 4 games...but we all know what he can do if he gets in a rhythm. I’d suggest not letting him find one.

Cade Hall, DT

Hall is having a big year for the Spartans and leads the entire league in sacks with 5.5 in just 4 games. That puts him just half a sack ahead of Boise State’s Shane Irwin, so CAGE MATCH!

Kyle Harmon, LB

The junior ‘backer has been ACTIVE through 4 games, and leads the team in tackles with 52 tackles on the season (that’s 13/game, folks). The 6’0” 229 lb LB has also forced a fumble and registered half a sack...which isn’t great for hauling potatoes.

Matt Mercurio, PK

Mercurio (who I’m relatively sure is a character in Romeo & Juliet) is perfect this season, having made all 15 extra points he’s attempted and all 4 field goals.

Players NOT to watch

Last year’s MWC offensive player of the year Josh Love is gone. Considering he passed for 438 yards last season against the Broncos, I’m counting this as a good development (for us).

Keys to victory

  • Discipline. Starkel is efficient, stingy with the ball, and doesn’t get sacked. Broncos need to play disciplined football, stay home, and get the Spartan offense off the field.
  • Wrap up. If you stuck around till the 4th quarter of last weekend’s game against Hawaii, you were treated to some of the WORST TACKLING YOU’VE EVER SEEN. The Broncos had the Warrior ball-carriers dead-to-rights time and time again (usually on 3rd and long) and could not seem to get them to the turf. The result? A blowout-turned-squeaker. They cannot afford that kind of two-hand-touch this week against a dangerous Spartan squad.
  • Takeaways. Boise State had one takeaway...uh, taken away last week on a phantom holding call. They’ll need some to stick this week.
  • Run it, gun it. Boise State has a dangerous offense when they are able to open things up, and the key to opening things up remains the run game. Andrew Van Buren rushed for a season high last week. If he can keep that momentum going (or hey, maybe George Holani can come back), it will bode well for Eric Kiesau’s game plan.
  • Don’t lose. Sterling record = intact.

Score prediction

Broncos make it 15 in a row against the Spartans

Boise State 28, San José State 17